Sports Medicine Topic/in Depth Product Review: Trigger Point Therapy
After using Trigger Point Therapy for over a couple months now, I am hooked, a huge fan for life. I want everyone else to know about the wonders this care can do on your body. (Important note: Trigger Point Therapy is NOT strictly for athletes, EVERYONE can and should use this treatment, just make sure it’s in the right context)
What the heck’s a Trigger Point?! A Trigger Point is a band of muscle fibers that form together, almost to create a knot type feel in one’s body. This is a natural occurrence with the body, and happens on a daily basis with everyone, some to greater levels than others for various reasons (genetics, walking or running form/biomechanics, or just plain training more, more stress on body).
When these trigger points build up pain starts to creep into the body. There’s no telling when it will come, how long it will last, and how much it will hurt. But without proper treatment, this pain or having to turn back early (possibly for not even pain, just simple muscle fatigue/soreness!) is going to be a constant occurrence for the rest of your life, unless your willing to be proactive.
This is the way I heard it from the founder of TP Therapy and it’s true when you think about the analogy: “Many people want to wear a Ferrari ON THEIR FOOT, but they have the suspension of a Pinto.” – Cassidy Phillips
Another great quote by Cassidy: “What you tolerate, you accept.” – Cassidy Phillips
I think the most amazing thing about the body is the ability for it to adapt. It’s called the SAID principle (Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands)…I think it’s pretty self explanatory. It describes how we can train our lungs to be able to take in and use more oxygen efficiency, or in this case we can increase the muscle elasticity and tissue strength by performing massage techniques that will create nutrient rich blood flow to the area. What it does on a microscopic level, is allows actin and myosin to form greater cross bridges in able to create a greater power stroke, and more of the power strokes, as well.
The muscles in our body are like a bungee jump cord. The tissues can stretch out and we can optimize our full elasticity of each individual muscle fiber, or consider the alternative of continuing along the same path of suffering injuries, time wasting, and under-achieving, the choice is up to you!
Let’s learn how the biomechanics of the body works from your toes to your traps:
Here’s how it goes wrong…
If you don’t have the proper ankle/foot dorsiflexion (most people don’t unless genetically gifted, stretching fanatics, or get massages on a regular basis) your foot will get stiff and rigid in a very short time and lose it’s range of motion. When it loses it’s range of motion the knee is forced more forward and this puts stress on the quadriceps and the IT band. The quadriceps and IT band are forced to work harder than they need to which creates a pelvic tilt, causing you to compromise your core muscles for stabilization. The psoas muscle is compromised for stabilization; its function is to connect your groin to the T12 vertebrae in the back. The added pelvic tilt/stress on the psoas muscle will cause it to overcompensate for the abdomen muscles by pulling harder on the L4-5 vertebrae in your back. The piriformis muscle (just north of the gluteus maximus) is also compromised for core strength stabilization. The last but note least is the pectoralis major muscle. The body naturally leans over when the pelvic tilt occurs, and the thrusting of the knees more forward causes this as well.
There are six areas of the body that are vital in regards to maintaining optimal daily life and peak athletic performance: the posterior tibialis (calf muscle), the quadriceps, iliotibial band (IT Band), the psoas, the piriformis, and the pectoralis major.
The foot is the first and last thing that comes in contact with the ground, so you need to be sound and efficient when it comes to the striking of your foot on the ground. Naturally the foot loses its dorsiflexion (flexing the toes towards the ground) by the stress we put on our feet everyday, JUST BY WALKING ALONE! So we need to massage the calf muscles: the posterior tibialis, the soleus, the gastrocnemius, and the achilles tendon, all of which have insertion points in the center of bottom of the foot. The massage will help break up the scar tissue and realign the muscle fibers to enable the foot to have it’s max range of motion (ROM). This foot will be able to strike the ground naturally like it was meant to by decreasing the amount of time it comes in contact with the ground and increasing the overall efficiency of the movement. That is why we start out massaging the calf, it’s the starting point which begins/ends with the foot.
Now if we don’t massage the calf to create the foot elasticity and ROM, we are going to tend to thrust our quadriceps forward more, causing a great force on our knee. This is why we need to manipulate the quadriceps second. It’s important to ease into massage on the quadriceps, this can be and usually is the most tender part of the body to massage; it also feels the best afterwards, when done correctly.
The IT band is also manipulated after the quadriceps are done at 45 and 90 degrees. IT band issues are a culmination of muscular challenges in the entire quad/hip region. You might feel aches and pains up and down the side of your leg and a sharp pain on the outside of your knee. To eliminate the underlying problem, you really need to address the muscular imbalance that causes the pelvic tilt. Once the pelvis tilts, it pushes your butt out. This puts stress on your IT bands and surrounding muscles causing them to lengthen beyond their natural capacity. This can trigger irritation in the insertion point just to the outside of the knee (not to be confused with pain felt in the insertion of the anterior tibialis in the lower leg).
You know how everybody is always trying to have a strong core to a better athlete, stronger, or more fit, etc. Well that where these next two muscle groups come in, the Psoas and Piriformis. The psoas connects in the groin and at T12 in the middle of the back. It unites the front to the back.
The Piriformis is a muscle set deep within the glut region. A tight piriformis is a by-product of the pelvic tilt, but more importantly the piriformis can be challenged by the way that you sit.
The sciatic nerve runs directly through the piriformis muscle. When the piriformis goes into spasm or tightens it can impinge the siatic nerve. If the piriformis and glut region is not managed regularly with massage, a build up of scar tissue and adhesions surrounding the sciatic nerve can compromise the neurological feed to the lower extremities.
The last muscle group to cover are the Pectorals. They seemed sort of insignificant to me when I first thought about the use of them during biking or running. I figured they would be pretty integral in swimming, but not much else. Well I was wrong, and here’s a detailed explanation why:
A triathlete has three disciplines that includes swimming, biking, and running. When fatigue sets in due to long periods of swimming, form can diminish. Once you become tired, the shoulders take the responsibility for most of the stroke and start losing power. At this point the pectorals begin taking the slack for the exhausted shoulder and once engaged, tight pectorals force the shoulders to rotate forward.
They are very integral while cycling/running as well.
When cycling the shoulders and pectorals take on additional weight because they are supporting the entire upper body with elbows that are positioned close together. Once you use your hands as leverage, the pectorals respond with even greater activation.
When running, overactive pectorals tend to rotate the shoulders forward, therefore cutting off oxygen to the lungs. The arms start to swing across the body rather than along the sides of the hips. At this point the biomechanics of the upper body are compromised and flexibility and strength are limited