This is a repost from The Utopian Life, but I found it to be so fitting that I wanted to include it in my hacks section. The short version is that you have control your body responds to your environment. If you've ever wished for life to go your way, or just to feel better about life on a given day, consider implementing some of the tips below.
I am asked this question frequently, and it is a great question. By definition a trigger point is a palpable nodule in a taut band of contracted muscle tissue which refers pain upon palpation to a specific charted pain region of the body. You knew that right? Yeah because you googled it. Here's a video which does a great job explaining the anatomy of a trigger point, what you can do about it, and why it's important. Enjoy!
A Temporary Tripod Dog
Last week our 8 year old dog Milo, who has no notion of slowing down, was full of energy from being outside and jumped up onto the couch as she always does. 99.5 times out of 100 this is not a problem, but today this simple ordinary behavior caused her to yelp in agony and suddenly lose the ability to bear weight on one leg.
For any of you who have pets or even kids who are in your charge, you know that when they get hurt you feel terrible as the one who is looking out for them. Others still can empathize with Milo's injury by remembering that time that you tweaked your back picking up a suitcase, or perhaps the injury was a crick in your neck from "sleeping wrong". The point is that none of us get through our life without having to cope with insult and injury.
The Quick FIX
Of course as a soft tissue therapist my dog's injury became very interesting to me. I researched the specific canine anatomy and created a treatment plan for getting her back on four legs again. This really wasn't a difficult thing, much of the anatomy is similar enough to the human frame that it was just a matter of applying the proper pressure to the appropriate place combined with a general PRICE protocol. That is Protect Rest Ice Compression and Elevation. In 32 hours she was running around like a pup again with no limp in sight!
So what made her treatment a success while we as the "higher species" so frequently go through weeks, months, and even years of agony after injury or upset? While there are many variables to be sure, a couple of ideas hit me foremost.
Frequency of Treatment
Milo was lucky to be able to receive multiple treatment sessions a day. To be sure, this wasn't spa therapy. There was wimpering at times when working with the sensitive and inflamed soft tissues. She let me know she had enough treatment for one session by her willingness to participate. But importantly we kept at it until the pain was gone, and we are still working the area to stimulate healing even though there are no current symptoms.
The moral of the story is that if you are trying to affect positive change to an injury or sore area, a once a month massage as blissful as it might be is not the answer. Below you will find a simple graphic which depicts the benefit of frequency of care. Soft tissue work is cumulative in nature. With frequency and a solid treatment plan, a medical massage therapist can keep the progress of the last treatment and build on that to give you the results you are looking for. The same quality of therapy however, delivered over a more protracted time frame likely does not deliver the same result.
Another area where dogs prevail over humans is having enough time to rest and recover. In fact for some lucky dogs, that's the majority of their day. Milo wasn't able to fully heal until we went back to work and she went back to her regularly scheduled day nap schedule. We can all take cues from this most anytime, but especially when the body is in a repair process. Rest is arguably just as important as the therapy.
Anyone who has ever received massage will tell you something similar. It's common to hear how a therapist has magic golden hands, or a calm relaxing spirit. Many people just really need the break from life and come out of the therapy room full of life energy and new ideas. The truth is that each of us approach life from a different angle, and your experience will likely be different from that of anyone else. Today I'm going to tell you about the time I felt like I had run a marathon after my massage.
Definitely NOT a back rub
If you've never received massage, you might have visions of a dim room full of flickering candles and new-agey music. The reality may be very different, and really depends on what you communicate to the therapist that you'd like to receive, but difinitively what it is not is just a rub down. There are specific movements that a therapist should take to help you move towards healing and homeostasis. Some of the given purposes of massage include:
To the issue of Massage Induced Soreness
You may not come into the clinic with specific areas of ouchness, but if the therapist finds a muscle that is not doing the job that it is supposed to be doing and starts to work on it you will quickly notice the soreness from the new action. Massaging the muscles stretches them and encourages blood flow to areas which might not have had adequate movement or circulation in some time. It's similar to going to the gym and forcing your body to do new things, or carrying boxes while moving from house to house. These actions are not performed by your body every day, and they often shed light on our weaker areas and those most in need of work.
Talk to Your Therapist
Trust me when I say that as a therapist I know exactly how it feels to have a good, specific, therapeutic massage. I have spent hours on the table, both in training and in self care deliberately learning the client's experience for the techniques that I employ. I have even had some therapists work too deeply for my tissue's flexibility and experienced resultant bruising and soreness that lasted for days. This is never the desired outcome, which is why it is crucial for the therapist to maintain good verbal communication with the client. Consent is yours to give and may be revoked at any time. If your therapist can't describe what they are doing and why it is hurting, you may be seeing the wrong person.
Managing Effects of Soreness
So the tightrope that we walk while performing a custom deep tissue sports and or medical massage is to be effective towards the benefit of the client without causing undue stress either during the work or after the massage. The truth is...you should feel different, you should know that someone has manipulated your muscles, and you should treat yourself well for recovery. Here are some things that you can do:
Additionaly, you should share your thoughts with your therapist. There are many things which can be employed to make your session as comfortable and as productive as possible. You might explore different techniques, alter the intensity or lenght of your session, the therapist can use a different strategy to work with your trouble spots. All you have to do is ask.
I have been asked many times why I choose to use kinesio tape in session and the reasons are clear: it just works. It is a simple measure that has a huge impact. With the proper knowledge of muscle and systems anatomy and after analyzing movement patterns and range of motion, your therapist can use this powerful tool to more quickly and effectively move you into a state of balance. The great folks over at www.kinesiotaping.com
(inventors of this life changing modality) really have encapsulated well the description of what it does and how in this brief excerpt from their site, and we'd love to show you how it works.
The Kinesio Taping® Method is a definitive rehabilitative taping technique that is designed to facilitate the body’s natural healing process while providing support and stability to muscles and joints without restricting the body’s range of motion as well as providing extended soft tissue manipulation to prolong the benefits of manual therapy administered within the clinical setting. Latex-free and wearable for days at a time, Kinesio® Tex Tape is safe for populations ranging from pediatric to geriatric, and successfully treats a variety of orthopedic, neuromuscular, neurological and other medical conditions. The Kinesio® Taping Method is a therapeutic taping technique not only offering your patient the support they are looking for, but also rehabilitating the affected condition as well. By targeting different receptors within the somatosensory system, Kinesio® Tex Tape alleviates pain and facilitates lymphatic drainage by microscopically lifting the skin. This lifting affect forms convolutions in the skin thus increasing interstitial space and allowing for a decrease in inflammation of the affected areas.
Roughly 55% of your body is comprised of water in some form or another. In fact, every cellular function requires adequate supply of water. If you're not taking in enough.....you're literally inviting cellular dysfunction and inevitably pain. One of the easiest and most obvious pain hacks is to simply enjoy proper hydration. My rule of thumb? Let your thirst be your guide. If you're experiencing thirst signals like a foggy mind or dry mouth, and sometimes even if you're yearning for something sweet, that's probably your body telling you that it needs water. So do yourself a favor and have a glass now.