This is Part 1 of a multi-part series.
If you wonder why a big portion of this Blog is dedicated to recovery and regeneration, it is because I believe it is the next important element next to training, especially for Masters athletes. Sure, nutrition and supplements are also important, but overtraining without proper rest and recovery will result in injuries. I know from experience. And we all know how well you perform with an injury.
But first, a little history lesson.
American President John F. Kennedy’s chronic back pain has been well documented from his World War II injury. The doctor who treated him was Dr. Janet Travell who co-wrote the books Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual; Vol. 1. The Upper Half of Body and Vol. 2., The Lower Extremities along with Dr. David Simons.
Before you click on the above links, or peek at the Amazon ad on the left, I have to warn you these books are very EXPENSIVE, and the page counts are over 1000 and 600 pages respectively! Not for the casual reader! Makes you want to get the latest 6 inch Kindle, doesn’t it?
If this is beyond your budget, then I highly recommend The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief, Second Edition which you can get for under $15 used and “only” 323 pages.
What are Trigger Points?
The research of Dr. Janet Travell and Dr. David Simons showed tiny contraction knots in your muscles and tissues known as “trigger points”. They quote trigger points are the primary cause of pain 75% of the time and a factor in almost every painful condition.
In short, Trigger Points develop when an area of the body is injured or “over used and abused”.
For instance, a single event can initiate a trigger point, such as a sports injury or even a car accident. Trigger points can also develop over time through muscle and tendon strain from repetitive movements at work.
On a long term basis, you can even get trigger points from postural strain from standing or sitting improperly for long periods at the computer or even in your car. I know my right shoulder is stiffer from using my computer mouse, as I am right handed. As well, my neck is a bit stiffer which makes checking the blind spot (or reversing) in my car a bit more tedious. What do you expect? I’ve been bogging for over 3 years!
At an emotion level, you can even say trigger points are caused by emotion stress and anxiety. Some even go as far as nutritional deficiencies and toxins, but I’ll save that for Raymond Francis’s theory.
How Bad are Trigger Points?
Trigger points cause muscles and tissues to tighten and shorten. These hyper-irritated hardened masses cause so much pain and tenderness that you alter the way you move, sit or stand to instinctively protect yourself. By limiting the use of the painful muscle, the surrounding muscle begins to weaken.
Your altered patterns of movement puts abnormal stress on your muscles, ligaments and joints. This leads to strength and flexibility imbalances in your muscles as well as postural dysfunctions throughout your body.
This "use and abuse and disuse" scenario creates more trigger points in other areas and a vicious cycle begins.
Before you know it, you’ve developed clusters of active and latent trigger points. You’ve also given up doing the things you love to do because it simply hurts too much.
And that could mean retiring from Track and Field. Or Blogging.
But I wouldn’t want you to do that. The next series will focus on myofascial release and in particular SELF-myofascial release since we all don’t have a huge physiotherapy budget.
- The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief, Second Edition
- Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual; Vol. 1. The Upper Half of Body
- Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual; Vol. 2., The Lower Extremities