The Ultimate Guide to Trigger-Point Therapy and Muscle Recovery
How trigger-point therapy can enhance muscle recovery, pain relief, and overall strength from the comfort of your home
Put yourself in the shoes of a pirate for a minute – a dirty, swashbuckling pirate.
A pirate, among other things, that’s always in pursuit of buried treasure — And attempting to follow a tattered, dirty map to find it…
So here you are, following the dotted line trail on the map all over the deep blue until you find the exact island you’ve been searching for.
You grab your shovel, and you head on land. You trace your steps (7 to be exact) to the right of this specific palm tree. You think to yourself, “This is it…”
X marks the spot.
Or so you’ve always been told.
Fast forward now to the modern-day. And you are sitting on your couch with a persistent lower back pain that will not go away.
All of the stretching in the world doesn’t help. All of the lower back massaging seems pointless and is far from effective.
And you should know, as we are about to discuss, X doesn’t always mark the spot when it comes to pain…
In the article below, we will go over the ins-and-outs of trigger-point therapy and explain the concept of “referred pain.”
Furthermore, we will go over some places where trigger-point pain is common.And we will introduce some strategies to take your muscle recovery and hydration into your own hands.
Trigger-Points Are “Knot” Funny
To understand trigger-points, think of them as bundles in the muscles and fascia that look like knots in a rope.
Fascia, the connective tissues surrounding your muscles, become wound too tightly and create a pressure point on that muscle.
These points can become inflamed and painful in the local area and affect different places around that muscle.
These zones, when left untreated, will sometimes get worse and grow more painful over time.
Trigger-point therapy is a treatment that can be performed at home by yourself or with a massage therapist’s help.
It involves slowly working around your body to locate these tension points and applying gentle yet firm pressure to the zone.
And you will certainly know if it’s working correctly. When successful, the pain will go away almost immediately, and a wave of relief washes over you…
You might even say it’s euphoric…
But the problem is far from over.
What Causes Trigger-Points to Form?
These “knots” can form for a variety of different reasons:
- Misaligned posture — especially during walking and sitting
- Inactive lifestyle — all work and no play
- Weightlifting — or having a physically intensive job
- Muscular trauma — such as bruise or twisted ankle
- General stress in our day-to-day life
- And so much more…
As you can see, the roots of these nasty little pain centers can be quite diverse.
And it’s hard to find many people in today’s day and age that aren’t dealing with at least one or two of these potential factors.
So we are here to tell you — You are not alone.
Trigger-point therapy is one of the more commonly sought-after services provided by massage therapists in the United States.
Keep reading and we will discuss breakthrough techniques to work on muscle recovery and pain management from the comfort of your living room.
But first, let’s talk about what makes trigger-point therapy and pain management so tricky.
“X” Marks the Start
Remember back when you were a pirate? How much work did you put into finding that spot underneath the palm tree?
Let’s hope for the pirate’s sake that the map they were reading wasn’t this one, right here.
In the world of trigger-point therapy, the area in which you are experiencing pain is seldom the area that needs the treatment and attention.
When one of these little knots pops up, it will often put stress and tension on the entire muscle . And that tension will sometimes cause pain that creeps up in the surrounding areas or even a seemingly unrelated part of your body.
The X on your neck represented by the pain is merely telling you where to start the search. The referral pain pattern is where you must venture into as the underlying problem may be somewhere on your traps, for example.
That crippling lower back pain you thought was chronic may be caused by these pressure zones in the upper back or the muscles around your hips or even in your feet.
This concept, known as “referred pain”, is what makes many people give up on getting the pain to go away.
They spend hours upon hours using every tool they can get their hands on to massage the pain away. Every motion they find online. And every trick in the book.
And all of this failure forces them to break down and spend hundreds of dollars for professional trigger-point therapy.
At IQBody, our mission is to provide you with the tools necessary to take matters into your own hands.
With the right information and equipment, you can handle a large majority of trigger-point and myofascial treatments comfortably at your house.
Common Places for Trigger-Point Related Pain
Trigger-point induced pain can occur all over the body, both in the front and back.
Check out this full and comprehensive trigger-point therapy map that you can use to help get to the bottom of some of the more stubborn aches and pains.
Common locations to experience this pain are the neck and head, upper back and shoulders, lower back pain, and the feet.
The feet and hands are said to have hundreds of potential trigger-point locations crammed into them.
And this information isn’t anything new. Reflexology, an entire artform of studying and mastering the connective muscles in the hands and feet, dates back to Ancient China.
Let’s break down two of the most significant pain locations that proper trigger-point therapy can address. These are head and neck pain, as well as lower back pain.
A Literal Pain in the Neck
Due to the widespread change in our habits and usage of technology, the American lifestyle has become much more sedentary and ergonomically unfriendly.
As a result, mental, physical and emotional health have been affected more than we realize.
Myofascial Pain Syndrome (or MPS for short) is a disease that leads to the increased development in these knotted muscles and the resulting pain.
And the nickname for this illness — “The Sitting Disease.”
What are you reading these words on right now? Is it a laptop or desktop? Or is it a phone or handheld tablet? Chances are high it’s on some sort of portable device.
The incredible leap in popularity that cell phones have made in recent years have had some very harmful effects on our posture and health.
We get it, and we love our phones too. But the head down posture when checking or reading something on the phone has led to a world of neck pain and tension headaches.
“Wait, are you telling me that my posture can lead to me having headaches?”
Yes, we are.
Our necks are a massive connection of all types of muscles. Imagine what it looks like when you pop open a computer.
Can you picture that massive bundle of wires and cables?
That’s what the muscles in our neck look like. And when a trigger-point forms in those fibers, it can have some painful effects. And tension headaches can be just another symptom.
With a constant forward tilt an active trigger-point will most of the time lie along with the traps (the muscle that contracts above the shoulder when you make a shrugging motion).
Using a steady but firm pressure on this point will release that tension, and within a few moments, you should feel that pain in your neck starts to go away.
It’s like magic but without the wands or weird old guys with long white beards.
How can I Fix My Lower Back Pain?
According to a study done at Georgetown University, more than 65 million Americans reported having back pain currently or within the past few days. That’s a massive percent of us…
And according to that same study, back pain is also the leading cause of missed workdays.
Pain in the Lumbar region can be completely debilitating and make our everyday life miserable.
But just hang tight because a world without pain isn’t as far off as you may think.
Here’s a quick anatomy lesson to put this into context — Much of the lower back pain you experience can be tied directly or indirectly to the hip flexors and iliopsoas muscle.
This muscle is composed of the iliacus muscle, inside the pelvis, and the psoas muscle near the lumbar spine base. These two muscles come together to run across the pelvis and are the connection point between the upper and lower body.
(If you are interested in more description and some pictures to help you understand this area of your body, we have gathered some extra resources for you to take a deeper dive.)
These muscle groups are integral, especially if you lead an active lifestyle with lots of activity and exercise.
These also happen to be very common areas for trigger-points to surface, and in turn, refer pain to the lower back.
But we have a solution…
Our WAVE5 muscle recovery system has a tool “CURL” that fits perfectly into these hard to reach iliopsoas muscles.
And when utilizing our Pulse technique, you will experience what “feel-good” pressure feels like without aggravating the muscle further.
Lower back pain is also a result of the previously discussed problems, such as bad posture and trauma.
Remember, many of the problems we face are a direct result of our lifestyle choices.
Your body’s job is to send you the message. And that’s what pain is.
And your job is to listen and act.
A Few Quick Trigger Point Therapy Do’s and Don’ts
Here are a couple of quick items to be mindful of when it comes to trigger-points and your muscle recovery process.
- Emphasize your posture, and practice maintaining a good posture whenever it’s possible
- Avoid placing excess stress on muscle groups without preparing them for the workload (this includes in the gym as well)
- To the best of your ability, maintaining an active lifestyle (a few minutes of walking inserted into long sitting sessions can do wonders for preventing fascial tension)
- Relax the muscle you’re targeting and breathe easy.
- Assume stretching will substitute for proper trigger-point therapy (what happens when you pull both ends of a knotted rope? It gets tighter, harder to fix and increases your chances of injury)
- Over rub or knead a muscle trying to find a trigger-point (this can lead to swelling and inflammation)
- Lose your patience (some points can take some calm, slow searching to find. But don’t give up, as the benefit far outweighs the time it may take to locate them)
- Push until it hurts (often times leaving a bruise or you feel as if you’ve been punched)
What Can the WAVE5 Recovery System Do for You?
Having covered all of this information surrounding trigger-points and trigger-point therapy, it can feel a little overwhelming.
At IQBody, we believe education is an essential first step on your journey to full muscle recovery which is why we’ve created a mobile library that walks you through how to target your entire body.
We believe pain should never stand in the way of you trying to reach your dreams and goals.
And with this mindset, we worked with leading physical therapists to proudly bring the WAVE5 muscle recovery and hydration system to life.
With five different settings and a number of functions, we designed WAVE5 to be your one-stop-shop for at-home (or anywhere you go) muscle recovery.
Hard to hit trigger-points that a foam roller can’t reach are no match for WAVE5’s diversity and resourcefulness!
And we encourage you to learn more about the life-changing results of muscular hydration and its proven benefits for your physical performance, flexibility, and muscle recovery.
Our WAVE5 recovery system can help with the problems outlined today, as well as many more. Check out our blog for more informative material regarding health, wellness and pain-relief.
If You Take One Thing Away from This, Make Sure It’s This
The art of being a pirate like the ones we see in the movies died out a long time ago. And why was that? They couldn’t adapt!
We all can take a lesson away from that.
Sometimes X isn’t what we’re looking for. The real problem lies hidden underneath the surface.
The recurring headaches, the continuous discomfort of lower back pain, and the unhappiness that they result in…
Those are your clues.
It’s our mission with WAVE5 to help you find that treasure— And you will end up as one happy, pain-free pirate!