If you've ever had a professional massage, you may have experienced a sore, tight and tender spot in a muscle that you had no idea was there...until the massage therapist found it (thanks, right?!). As she applied pressure to this point, you may have jumped or winced a little because not only was it a painful surprise, but the discomfort radiated to another area of your body. This is called a trigger point. Some trigger points you may already be aware of, you feel that specific point on your body that is tight and achy, you can point to exactly where it is. Some trigger points hide out in the body until activated by physical or emotional stress, or direct pressure is applied to the muscle.
These concealed points often reveal more than just physical discomfort, it's very common for their to be an emotional connection or a memory attached to them as well. I see them as one way that the body communicates with us about what needs attention, whether it's physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. It's very common for me to be working with a client and as I discover this tender area on the body, they make a connection with something going on in their lives, but not always.
Treating a trigger point involves holding pressure on the muscle for about 10-15 seconds. It may feel more intense at first, but eventually the ache will decrease. Focused breathing into the sensation supports the release of the trigger point by encouraging circulation and relaxation. This treatment is comparable to some mindfulness practices that bring awareness to our mental and emotional tension through the breath.
For example, this passage from How to Relax by Thich Nhat Hanh called Releasing Tension:
"The way to release all the tension is with our mindful breath. So we always start with mindfulness. Mindfulness brings the mind to the present moment and we see and experience things more deeply. Going back to the present moment, you can see if your body is tense. We look deeply and see that, 'Ah, I am tense because I am carried away by my worry, anxiety and plans.' Then we can make the determination not to be carried away like that."
Understanding how to release the tension physically, mentally and emotionally helps to explain how we develop these trigger points and mysterious chronic pain. We have so much potential to heal ourselves when we bring our loving attention to all aspects of our being.
If you're curious about ways to nourish all aspects of yourself for optimum health and vitality, please check out my Whole Self Nourishment Program starting April 21st or my Holistic Integration Program.
I offer Holistic Health Coaching programs as well for those of you outside the Seattle area as well.
Enjoy the blossoming of Spring!
Certified Holistic Health Coach. Certified Food & Spirit Practitioner. Bodyworker