Trigger Point Therapy

Five Tips For Releasing Trigger Points

Author: Julie Donnelly

Neck PainHave you ever had a pain in one area, rubbed another place on your body, and felt the pain melt away?  If so, you’ve experienced the result of “trigger point therapy.”

A trigger point is technically an area of hyperirritability in a muscle that may refer pain &/or numbness to another area.  In other words, it is a “knot” in the muscle fibers and it prevents muscle fibers from lengthening to their longest length.  The shortened fibers are therefore pulling on the insertion, limiting range of motion, and weakening the entire muscle because these fibers are basically out of commission.

Trigger Points and Stretching

A muscle originates on a bone, crosses over a joint, and inserts onto a bone that will move when the muscle contracts.  This is the way the body moves, and it functions perfectly until a trigger point forms in the muscle.  As the muscle shortens it is pulling on the insertion point and you feel stiff, inflexible.

You may decide to stretch, however, people sometimes complain about feeling worse after stretching than they did before doing the stretch.  To stretch a muscle, while it still has an active trigger point, could cause tiny tears to occur in the fibers, and could cause even more pain.

Consider this analogy.  If you tied a rope onto a strong tree and then went straight across and tied the other end of the rope onto a flexible tree, the smaller tree would continue to stand straight.  If you then tugged on the rope the flexible tree would bend.  However, if you tied a knot, or two, or three, into the rope, the flexible tree would be leaning over.  If you then pushed the bent tree so it was again standing up straight, you would only cause the knot in the rope to tighten, and you would be overstretching the fibers on either side of the knot.

This is exactly what happens when you try to stretch a muscle that is shortened by knots in the fibers, without first releasing the trigger points.

Five Tips For Releasing Trigger Points

As the trigger points caused knots to form in the muscle, the shortening of the fibers put a strain on the insertion point on the other side of the joint.  You can reverse this situation by doing the following steps:

  1. Treat. Hold the pressure on each trigger point.  In order to effectively stretch a muscle you need to first press on each trigger point, holding the pressure for 30-60 seconds.
  1. Understand the Muscle Movement.  Look at the muscle that you will be treating.  To best treat and stretch a trigger point, you need to know what movement the muscle makes.  For example, the muscles in the back of your neck will pull your head back so you can look up at the ceiling, and the muscle on your shoulder blade raises your arm.  To stretch, you need to go in exactly the opposite direction as the movement of the muscle.
  1. Stretch.  Move so the muscle needs to stretch. For example, the trapezius muscle will raise your shoulder, so to stretch it you want to move your head away from your shoulder.  You can accomplish this by dropping your head in the opposite direction while pulling your shoulder down toward the floor.
  1. Press and Stretch for Optimal Benefit.  To optimize the treatment, whenever possible, continue the pressure on the deactivated trigger point and then move your body so the muscle is forced to lengthen.
  1. Slowly Move the Joint in a Smooth Circle.  Slowly rotate your shoulder in a circle, move your leg so your hip joint loosens, curl and open your fingers fully, circle your neck, and arch your back like a cat.  Finally, stop pressing on the trigger points but continue the slow, relaxed movement of your joints.

The more often you limber up your joints, the more flexible you will feel.  Always go only to the point of “this feels great,” never trying to overstretch or make a movement that is beyond your comfort level.  Stretching feels great when you have untied the knots that have held you bound!

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

How Can You Relieve Chronic Hip Pain?

Making Hip Pain Go Away

Author: Julie Donnelly

Hip PainDo you have joint pain or stiffness?  Does it hurt when you’ve been sitting and you try to get up and walk? Have you tried to stretch and either it feels good for a few minutes and then you’re back to square one, or maybe even worse, it hurts more than it did before? Do you sometimes feel like your joints are just tied down and you’re no longer flexible? Do you maybe even blame it on “old age?”  The odds are extremely high that all that’s happening is your muscles are in spasm.

If any of these statements fit you, you’ll really love today’s message.  As a bonus, at the end of this blog you’ll learn a self-treatment that you’ll love if you ever have hip pain.

I’ve mentioned many times that a tight muscle pulling on a tendon will cause joint pain, just like pulling on your hair will cause your scalp to hurt.  And, just like the only way to stop the pain in your head is to let go of your hair, the only way to stop the pain in your joint is to release the tight muscle.

Another analogy that I use frequently has to do with stretching and why you may feel worse AFTER you stretch than you did before you stretched. If you took a 12” line and tied enough knots in it so it is now 11”, and then you try to stretch it back to 12” without first untying the knots, you can see what would happen.  The knots would become tighter and the fibers on either side of the knot would be overstretched and could possibly even tear.  If the line was attached to a fixed point on either side you can imagine the strain that is happening to the attachment points.  This is exactly what is happening to you when you when you stretch a muscle that is tied up in knots (spasms).  You can see how important it is to first release the spasms before stretching.

Today I’d like to share with you how to do one of the Julstro self-treatments that we teach on the Julstro self-treatment DVD.  So many people have hip pain that I’d like to explain how to treat the tensor fascia lata muscle which is located on the outside of your hip, between your hip bone and the top of your thigh bone:

Hip_Pain_Self_TreatmentUsing a tennis ball (hollow in the center so it is a bit less intense) or a Perfect Ball (solid in the center so it gets in deeper) place the ball right where the side-seam of your pants is located – between the two bones.  If you are in a lot of pain, start by leaning into a wall. If you want to go deeper into the muscle, lie on the floor on top of the ball.  You may need to move an inch or so to find the “epicenter” of the spasm, but you’ll know immediately when you locate it.  Always make sure you keep your pressure to a “hurts so good” level, you’re in control so don’t over-do.

Once you find the spasm, which is also called a “trigger point,” just stay still on it for 30-60 seconds. Lift your weight off the ball for a few breaths and then press into the ball again. This second time you’ll find that it won’t be as painful as the first time because you have already pressed out some of the H+ ions that are causing the spasm (and the pain).

Keep repeating this for a few minutes and then slightly move your body so you can find other trigger points that are around your hips. You’ll probably find points that are a little bit toward the front of your hip, so make sure you rotate your body so you’re facing more toward the wall or the floor, and then rotate your body so you’re back is more toward the wall or the floor.

This one simple technique has saved several of my clients from thinking they needed hip surgery! It will help you move easier and with less discomfort – and often it will totally eliminate the pain from your hip completely.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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