This book can change your life. I am NOT kidding. If you have any pain, especially chronic, nagging pain, ranging from annoying to disabling, the information in this book, applied by you, can seriously diminish your pain, and probably get rid of it entirely. As a yoga person, trying to avoid injuries, this book is essential. I have spoken.
I sound like I’m selling something, don’t I? I’m not, I promise. Just this: every time I have had aches and pains, I have used information in this book to fix it. Poof. Well, actually, first I suffer for a while before I remember the book. Then I do the V-8 maneuver [palm/forehead] and look up my owie.
What book? This book:
Some quick history: In 1992 Dr. Janet Travel published her opus Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction. In it she showed how a muscular phenomena she called trigger points created referred pain (meaning the pain shows up in places other than the trigger point itself. She also described, in detail, how these trigger points, left to fester in the backwaters of your myofascial tissues, could band together to create complex chronic pain syndromes.
Then she described how to deactivate the trigger points, for, Lo!, once they are deactivated, the referred pain goes away. As in, GONE.
But you don’t have to read 1000 pages of her two volume work to figure this all out. Clair Davies, in The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, has, essentially, taken Dr. Travell’s work and made it totally accessible and easy to do on yourself.
Go Clair! All hail Clair Davies!
Basically, you (1) get a tennis ball or one of those super-bounce balls, (2) with the help of the book you find the magic trigger point (you know you’ve got the right spot because it Hurts So Good and lights up the chronic pain area when you press on it), and (3) apply pressure to the point by leaning again the ball, against a wall, or the floor, for a few seconds, a few times a day. You do this until you forget to do it because your pain is gone.
Here’s an example.
I’ve been doing a lot of touchpad editing/scrolling/cursor work the last few weeks, editing a manuscript. I noticed that my wrist was hurting, then I noticed that the pinky side was seizing up. Then it started screaming at me when I twisted it wrong, like, pain enough to make me drop whatever I was holding and curse.
Oh, no, I’m injured what do I do…duh…drool…oh yeah, what about that book? So I got out my dog-eared copy, looked up ” outer wrist and hand pain.”
Option #1 : stick needles in the trigger points. Yikes! This was Dr. Travell’s preferred method, and, I think, that is unfortunate, because it sounds so…icky. On the other hand, acupuncturist Mark Seem has done some cool stuff combining acupuncture technique with trigger point theory with remarkable results. So needling trigger points is option one. But what if you don’t like needles, or don’t know an acupunturist who is doing Seem’s work?
Option #2: get someone to mash ’em. That’s right, you can put pressure on the trigger points and they scream for a few seconds lighting up the referred pain areas in this exquisite pain/pleasure weirdness, and then the pain goes away. It’s like a freaking miracle. You can pay a massage therapist, trained in trigger points to do this for you, and if you can afford this, I HIGHLY recommend it.
But massage therapy can be expensive. And even if you can go regularly, real benefits come from daily work. Which leads me to…
Option #3: mash ’em yourself. You can totally do this! It’s awesome. About my wrist troubles, five minutes after flipping through the book I found the trigger point and gave it a little mini-treatment and the pain was 50% better. Five minutes! That includes reading! A few more treatments over the next couple of days, problem gone. Same thing for the lower back pain I had after my last pregnancy. Same thing for the shoulder and neck pain I get when I spend too much time at the computer (or doing puzzles with Luc). Etc.
In fact, I posted that post on Asana Envy and avoiding injury the other day—Yoga Hubris! Beware!—and the next day after my practice I realized I had tweaked my right hamstring attachment. Ouch. Yoga-butt. I’ve been feeling something going on there for a while, but it finally broke through to my consciousness that it was an actual hurt. Oops. Did some ice, rested, then got out the book. My understanding is that if the hamstring attachment is hurting, that means the tendon is getting over-stretched, taking the hit instead of the muscle-belly. I flipped through the book looking at the pictures until I found a few that showed refered pain on the sit-bone, noted the associated trigger points, and got out my high-bounce ball. Bingo, I found some exquisitely tender trigger points in my hamstring, right where the book said they would be, rolling the high-bounce ball under my thigh while sitting on my piano bench. Wowie kazowie they hurt. But when I stood up, no pain at the attachment site. And when I folded over in Uttanansa, the Hamstring Tendon Killer, no sharp ouch, instead a…twinge. Obviously still some healing/strengthening to do for the tendon. But the hurt was at least 50% less by deactivating those trigger points in the muscle. Holy cow! It took ten minutes to diminish the pain by 50%!
I say again, All Hail Clair Davies! He’s got a cure for what ails you!
He’s written a book on rotator cuff injuries that I really must read, but haven’t yet.
Trigger Point Therapy Workbook—Highly recommended.
(And if you’ve got yoga butt, look at this great article by Roger Cole, an Iyengar guy and anatomist—I did this fabulous workshop with him on Restorative Yoga a million years ago—and definitely don’t miss this article by Tim Miller, one of the Big Names in ashtanga. Very informative.)