On Saturday, I happened to be in the same city as my favorite massage therapist and she had time for me! YAY! Since she moved, I haven’t had a standing appointment for massage, so my body was delighted that it was going to get some attention of the PROPER kind, rather another day of running and working out (Ok, it likes that stuff, too, but it’s been kinda hoping for a massage recently!)
As she worked on my legs, she found spots where there are lesions in my muscles (results of some problems I’ve been happening lately). And when she found them, she dug in and worked them. And relaxation wasn’t happening! She’d found a trigger point. I expected it. I knew my legs were hurting and that there was “stuff” going on that would hurt. But, it didn’t help to be prepared. My body reacted. I had no choice. I flinched. If she hadn’t had firm grip on my leg, I would have pulled it away, retreating from the pain.
At the same time, a friend was describing an event she had attended. While a fantastic event, it seemed personally designed to elicit a response in my friend that would mimic my reaction to those thumbs digging into that muscle. She flinched. Even though she’s done the work. Even though she thought she’d worked out the knots in her psyche. It was a trigger point. If she hadn’t had a firm grip on herself, she’d have pulled away, retreating from the pain.
Trigger points – we all have them. Whether they are physical or emotional, we have tender spots, strategically located so that we’ll hit them way too frequently. Or maybe just when we really need to be running on all cylinders – smooth and relaxed. Most, whether physical or emotional, are the results of old injuries that we carry around with us for way too long. And like a hair trigger on a firearm, when they’re hit, we react!
The interesting thing about physical trigger points is that while they are hypersensitive or hyper-irritable, they also can create ongoing low-level pain that impacts your performance and comfort level on an almost constant basis. The trigger points in my lower legs manifest in tightness in my Achilles tendon and aching in my ankle and have been impacting my running for a while now. So working with these trigger points and releasing the pain is critical for my ongoing fitness program (and since I’m a running coach, my livelihood!) So, I’m using trigger point therapy to poke and prod at them and, yes, it can be painful. But the result (pain-free workouts) will be worth it.
The same can be said for our emotional trigger points. The pain can be “referred” – felt someplace other than where you’d expect. It can manifest as a constant low-level energy drag or depression. And it can flare into acute, disabling pain at a moment’s notice. When that reaction occurs, there’s a tremendous opportunity and it exists only because you are in pain. NOW is the time that you can identify and begin to remove the knot, the lesion in your emotional muscle that’s getting in your way.
Just as I gasped when my massage therapist reached the spot in my leg that is causing so much pain, my friend was left metaphorically gasping when the speaker found HER trigger point. As my leg begins to heal (with more self massage and stretching and manipulation), so she begins to heal as she completes uncovering and repairing the wound in her psyche.
Trigger points – we all have them. They get in the way. They need to be healed. But you can only started healing when you know where the problem lies. So, when your trigger is hit, don’t just ignore it. Work to find the source, banish the pain and start to heal! Get it out of your way!