Doing Trigger Point Treatment:
A How-To Guide

You can learn about trigger point treatment now that you know what muscle trigger points are. There are a variety of choices out there to help you get rid of your pain.

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The one common thread among all the methods is that some kind of physical intervention is used. Meditation, positive thinking, etc., don't have that much of an effect on trigger points.[1]

Deep massage is an excellent method of trigger point treatment.

So the first step in trigger point treatment is to try not to get them in the first place. But once you've got them, use the methods below to get rid of them.

I personally think that massage is the best because of its convenience - but take your pick of the ones below.

- Trigger Point Injection -

Injection is designed to be done by a doctor. The doctor will locate the trigger point causing you pain and then stick it with a needle and inject procaine into it.

The therapy part (as far as curing the trigger point) is from the needle puncturing the trigger point, and the procaine keeps it from hurting.[2]

The good part of this is that it is the most refined way or targeting muscle trigger points and destroying them. However, it must be administered by your doctor (which can cost something, and be inconvenient).

Also, it's difficult to locate the trigger points with enough precision and you can't inject too many at a time. And your body now has to flush procaine out of your system.

- Dry Needling -

This is similar to injection and acupuncture. Sometimes called Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS), a specialist inserts a needle, usually an acupuncture needle, into your trigger point(s) to break them up & get rid of them.

This is exactly the same as the injection, but without the procaine as a painkiller. Which, as you might imagine, can be more painful than an injection.

Dry needling is not widely practiced and is promising, but has all of the shortcomings of the trigger point injections examined above, with the exception of not giving your body the procaine.

- Spray and Stretch -

This is another method principally designed for application by a doctor or specialist on a patient. Using either ice or refrigerant spray, your doctor will chill the skin over the muscle that is causing you pain. Once the skin is chilled you will stretch the muscle causing you pain. Finally, your skin is re-warmed (usually with a heating pack).[3]

Normally stretching trigger points doesn't work. However, using cold first seems to distract the nervous system and give you a change to stretch the muscle back to its original (non-contracted-and-in-pain) length.

An important point to make is that it is only the skin that is chilled. The stretching should be done shortly after your skin is chilled, so that your muscle is not chilled as well.

Also, stretch your muscles nicely. You're just stretching to take up the slack, not forcing the muscle to stretch to new lengths.

For this one you need; (1) to identify which muscle is causing your pain, (2) to know how to stretch that muscle, and ideally (3) to have a doctor or specialist oversee the whole procedure. But for those complications, this is one of the less invasive methods of trigger point treatment.

- Massage -

Even less complicated and offering great results is deep stroking massage. It's probably the best method of trigger point treatment for most people.

You can do it yourself, you don't need any tools (though some can help), you can work on yourself anywhere and everywhere, it's safer than the more invasive methods, you can keep massaging till you get the right muscle at the right angle, etc.[4]

Can you tell that I like this one? ;-)

All you need is knowledge of the location of the muscle that's causing you pain. Then, massage it deeply. You'll know when you hit the trigger point because it'll REALLY hurt.

By doing deep, stroking massage you can work the trigger point out. Short sessions of massage throughout the day (1-2 min. long) can work wonders for trigger point treatment.

Of course, if you massage too hard you can bruise yourself. When I had just found out about muscle trigger points I massaged my triceps and shoulders very, very hard to get rid of a painful and aggravating tennis elbow. My pain went up for a few days after the massage (since it was so deep and harsh), but my muscles felt amazingly better immediately afterward.

You don't need to massage that hard or that deep to get results. And ideally you can get a friend or even a masseuse or masseur to work on you.

All you need to do is locate your trigger points and attack them!

Oh, and be sure to sign up for the e-zine Starting Strong to get monthly strength training, exercise, and diet tips e-mailed to you - and access to the free e-book Train Smart, Eat Smart: Exercise Nutrition Hacks!

• Click here to learn more about Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, Finding Trigger Points, and Treating Muscle Aches & Pains!


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Doing Trigger Point Treatment: A How-To Guide

1. Davies, Clair. 2004. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide For Pain Relief. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications. Pp. 31.
2. Ibid. Pp. 32.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid. Pp. 33.

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