This is the place to talk about trigger points, and I’m going to share something here I haven’t seen talked about many other places.
For those who don’t already know – trigger points are small micro-spasms in your muscles which create pain and stiffness not just where the triggers are, but in other places as well.
Treating them can be a revelation – creating instant pain relief as well as new strength and flexibility in your body. However, there’s a catch.
When people find and treat their triggers, one of two things happens. The first scenario is you treat your triggers, get marvelous pain relief, and the problem is solved. Every now and then when you’ve done a lot of exercise you may need to revisit and switch off your triggers. But by and large, you’re good to go.
The second scenario is this: you treat your triggers and get great pain relief. But…after a few days, the trigger points are back – as tender and active as before. This is the question on trigger points I get asked the most: how do I stop my triggers from coming back?
If you’re in chronic pain, the most common reason why your triggers keep reappearing is that your pain system is on red alert.
What we talked about in the last article – pain amplification – is also what can drive trigger points.
Trigger points are a protective reflex in your body. The reflex exists primarily to tense your muscles and save you when you need to move faster than you can consciously think – for instance when you trip and fall.
However, suppose you’re in the situation where your pain system is constantly trying to warn you of a danger that isn’t there? In this case, the area in your spinal cord where nerve messages are received and relayed up to your brain is sensitised. And this will also affect messages coming to and from your muscles.
Both your pain system and the trigger point reflex are protective mechanisms designed to keep you safe. But when your pain system is malfunctioning it will also turn on trigger points – and keep turning them on even after you go in and switch them off.
Some people tell me they’re so loaded with trigger points they don’t know where to begin. This happens when your central nervous system has gone into overdrive.
Picture a dial which represents your pain system sensitivity. And then imagine someone has turned it right up. This is the effect which produces active trigger points everywhere.
What can you do in this situation? Again, we’re going to circle back to knowledge and understanding. Once you know the problem is in your pain system, you can start to change the way your react to your habitual pain.
And now you have two tools to treat it – you can start releasing the trigger points on one side, while on the other you can begin turning down the reaction of your pain system. Except now you understand the triggers are a part of a larger picture, so you’ll be able to treat them at the same time as altering the underlying cause.
Ready to take the next step on the journey back to active living? If you’re ready to do this, I recommend you join the Life After Pain Club. It’s a community where you get a library of resources on getting out of chronic pain, plus access to a group where myself and other members will answer your questions to help you move forward and create a pain free life.