A treatment with Bryan Cobb RMT.

Session Description

A treatment with Bryan is very user friendly. And, no, you don’t have to remove any clothing. However, bringing a t-shirt and a pair of shorts or sweats is recommended.

The first time you come for a treatment you will be asked to fill out a Client History form. Bryan will go over the information you provide, asking for more detail and discussing the type of pain you are having and its location.

The treatment itself involves locating the Trigger Points in the muscle or soft tissue and applying a deep focused pressure to the Point. This will reproduce the pain and the referral pattern that is characteristic of that pain.

The treatment will be uncomfortable at first, but as the Trigger Points release, the pain will decrease. The pressure will always be adjusted to your tolerance level. If, at any time, you feel too uncomfortable you can ask Bryan to ease off a bit.

Depending on your specific problem, Bryan may also use some stretching and / or range-of-motion techniques, as needed.

After treatment, it is usually recommended that the client apply moist heat to the area treated.

 

What the Heck Is a Trigger Point?

By Bryan Cobb, Advanced Remedial Massage Therapist

What is a Trigger Point?

Trigger Points (TP’s) are defined as a “hyper-irritable spot within a taut band of skeletal muscle. The spot is painful on compression and can evoke characteristic referred pain and autonomic phenomena.”1

Put into plain language, a TP is a painful knot in muscle tissue that can refer pain to other areas of the body. You have probably felt the characteristic achy pain and stiffness that TP’s produce, at some time in your life.

TP’s were first brought to the attention of the medical world by Dr. Janet G. Travell. Dr. Travell, physician to President John F. Kennedy, is the acknowledged Mother of Myofascial Trigger Points.  In fact, “Trigger Point massage, the most effective modality used by massage therapists for the relief of pain, is based almost entirely on Dr. Travell’s insights.”2  Dr. Travell’s partner in her research was Dr. David G. Simons, a research scientist and aerospace physician.

Trigger Points are very common. In fact, Travell and Simons state that TP’s are responsible for, or associated with, 75% of pain complaints or conditions.1 With this kind of prevalence, it’s no wonder that TP’s are often referred to as the “scourge of mankind”.

Trigger Points can produce a wide variety of pain complaints. Some of the most common are migraine headaches, back pain, and pain and tingling into the extremities. They are usually responsible for most cases of achy deep pain that is hard to localize.

A TP will refer pain in a predictable pattern, based on its location in a given muscle. Also, since these spots are bundles of contracted muscle fibres, they can cause stiffness and a decreased range of motion.  Chronic conditions with many TP’s can also cause general fatigue and malaise, as well as muscle weakness.

Trigger Points are remarkably easy to get, but the most common causes are

TP’s (black dots) can refer pain to other areas (red)

Sudden overload of a muscle

• Poor posture

• Chronic frozen posture (e.g., from a desk job),  and

• Repetitive strain

Once in place, a TP can remain there for the remainder of your life unless an intervention takes place.

Trigger Points Not Well Known

With thousands of people dealing with chronic pain, and with TP’s being responsible for — or associated with — a high percentage of chronic pain, it is very disappointing to find that a large portion of doctors and other health care practitioners don’t know about TP’s and their symptoms.

Scientific research on TP’s dates back to the 1700’s.  There are numerous medical texts and papers written on the subject.

But, it still has been largely overlooked by the health care field.  This has led to needless frustration and suffering, as well as thousands of lost work hours and a poorer quality of life.

How Are Trigger Points Treated?

As nasty and troublesome as TP’s are, the treatment for them is surely straight-forward.  A skilled practitioner will assess the individual’s pain complaint to determine the most likely location of the TP’s and then apply one of several therapeutic modalities, the most effective of which is a massage technique called “ischemic compression”.

Basically, the therapist will apply a firm, steady pressure to the TP, strong enough to reproduce the symptoms.  The pressure will remain until the tissue softens and then the pressure will increase appropriately until the next barrier is felt.  This pressure is continued until the referral pain has subsided and the TP is released. (Note:  a full release of TP’s could take several sessions.) 

Other effective modalities include dry needling (needle placed into the belly of the TP) or wet needling (injection into the TP).  The use of moist heat and stretching prove effective, as well. The best practitioners for TP release are Massage Therapists, Physiotherapists, and Athletic Therapists.  An educated individual can also apply ischemic compression to themselves, but should start out seeing one of the above therapists to become familiar with

the modality and how to apply pressure safely.

1 Simons, D.G., Travell, D.G., & Simons, L.S. Travell and Simons’ Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual.

Vol. 1.  2nd ed. Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins, 1999.

2http://www.muscletherapyworks.com/MTW%20Biography%20T%20&%20S%2001.htm 

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Trigger points and fibromyalgia

Myofascial pain syndrome (trigger points) and fibromyalgia are often confused to be the same condition and while there is a lot of interrelatedness between the two they are not quite identical. The clinical definition of a trigger point is “a hyper irritable spot associated within a taut band of skeletal muscle that is painful on compression or muscle contraction, and usually responds with a referred pain pattern distant from the spot”. Trigger points form from an overload trauma to the muscle tissue. This is contrasted with fibromyalgia which is defined as “a medical condition characterized by chronic widespread pain and a heightened pain response to pressure. Other symptoms include tiredness to a degree that normal activities are affected, sleep problems and troubles with memory. Some people also report restless leg syndrome, bowel and bladder problems, numbness and tingling and sensitivity to noise, lights and temperature. It is also associated with depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder”. Fibromyalgia will also present with localized tender points which are often mistaken for trigger points. Where these two conditions become somewhat interrelated is via the nervous system. Fibromyalgia patients suffer from a super-sensitization of the nervous system causing hyperirritability and pain. Myofascial trigger points can be caused by,or be the cause of, super sensitization. An active trigger point will irritate the sensory nerves around it eventually leading to super-sensitization. Trigger points have also been showed to form of become active due to super-sensitization. Both of these conditions can perpetuate the other, leading to layers of pain and symptoms. This being the case, trigger point therapy can have a very positive effect on decreasing the severity of pain and symptoms in patients suffering from fibromyalgia.

Is there an actual cure all?

Exercise Tip

No; but exercise seems to be as close as we will ever get! 

Some of you may have heard about how a modified form of boxing is helping patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). If you haven’t, it’s been observed that people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) who engage in this boxing-like exercise routine can enhance their quality of life and even build impressive gains in posture, strength, flexibility, and speed. Proponents of the program report that regardless the degree of severity of PD, participants have a happier, healthier, and higher quality of life.

But must it be boxing? Maybe not. A report presented at the International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders in San Diego in June 2015 found that patients with Parkinson’s disease who began regular exercise early into the PD process had a much slower decline in their quality of life when compared with those who started exercising later. The researchers found just 2.5 hours per week of exercise is needed to improve quality of life scores. According to the report, it didn’t matter what exercise the participants did — simply getting up and moving for a total of 2.5 hours/week was reportedly enough (that’s only 20-25 minutes / day)!

Looking beyond Parkinson’s, other chronic conditions also benefit from adding exercise into a person’s lifestyle. Studies show that regular exercise as simple as walking helps reduce one’s risk for memory loss, and it slows down functional decline in the elderly. Incorporating aerobic exercise into one’s lifestyle can also improve reaction time in people at ALL AGES. Exercise has also been shown to improve both physical and emotional well-being in those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease with as little as 60 minutes/week of moderate exercise! Patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) have also reported less stiffness and less muscle wasting when using exercise machines, aquatic exercise, and/or walking.

Research has shown just 30 minutes of brisk exercise three times a week can help reduce depressive symptoms in patients with mild-to-moderate depression. In a study involving teenagers, those who engaged in sports reported a greater level of well-being than their sedentary peers, and the more vigorous the exercise, the better their emotion health! In kids 8-12 years old, physical inactivity is strongly linked to depression.

Even anxiety, stress, and depression associated with menopause are less severe in those who exercise! So LET’S ALL GET OUT THERE AND EXERCISE!!!

Diagnosis of trigger points.

Diagnosis of trigger points typically takes into account symptoms, pain patterns, and manual palpation. When palpating the therapist will feel for a taut band of muscle with a hard nodule within it. Often a local twitch response will be elicited by running a finger perpendicular to the muscle fibres direction. Pressure applied to the trigger point will often reproduce the pain complaint of the patient and the referral pattern of the trigger point. Often there is a heat differential in the local area of the trigger point.

Home Gym Essentials

So you want to build your own home gym but you have no idea what kind of equipment to buy. There are two main limiting factors in outfitting a workout area in your house or apartment—space and budget—but with proper planning, you can design an exercise studio perfectly tailored to your needs. Simply start with the essentials, and then branch out to more specialized equipment as you need it. Below are a few of the essentials that can get your started on your home gym journey.

Quality Mats

No matter what your plans are for your home gym a good quality floor mat is key. You can opt for the single mat for stretching and floor work or go shoe hog with an entire flooring system but be sure to go with a high quality, durable product. Rogue Canada has some great products in this (and most) category from floor mats to olympic lifting platforms, as do spots from Fitness Experience to Home Depot.

Fitness Experience Flooring

Rogue Mats

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Suspension Trainer

Maximizing use of space and finding tools with multiple uses are keys when designing your home gym. One of the best pieces of equipment for both those concerns are suspension trainers. The TRX Home2 System is one of the best purchases you can make for your home gym. It includes the latest TRX Suspension Trainer for homes, as well access to the TRX app. (With more than 80 workouts designed by world-class trainers, the app will keep you busy.) While the Home2 System costs less than $200, it is one of the bigger purchases on this list. What makes it worthwhile is that Suspension Training offers a full-body workout that can be modified for any fitness level.

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Resistance Bands

Easy to store, easy to use, easy to afford and easy to scale. Resistance bands are a great addition to any home gym. From stands of tubing to elastic loops and heavy resistance with handles, resistance bands come in many shapes and sizes and can be used to add to any fitness routine. Depending on your fitness goals, resistance tubing can be your main source of muscle building or an add oil that enhances lifts. They are a rehab essential as well when working through those nagging injuries that we all get from time to time and a key part of training for pliability as shown in the TB12 method. Every major fitness retailer has dozens of options for you and can help you decide on what you need based on your goals.

Fitness Experience Tubing

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TB12 Workout Gear

This list is a great start for your home fitness journey but isn’t all inclusive by any means. Everyone’s goals are different, require different levels of equipment and different levels of motivation. The key with any of them is to get committed, get started and get moving!