Effectiveness of a Home Program of Self-Myofascial Release Followed by Stretching for Trigger Points and Pain.
Much of what I do involves treating myofascial trigger points for pain, sports injuries and performance enhancement.
Almost all of my patients are given home instructions on how to perform self-myofascial release, an extremely effective rehabilitation technique. Those who perform these exercises generally rave about their effectiveness.
What are Myofascial Trigger Points?
A myofascial trigger point (TP) is an area of hyperirritability located in a tight band of muscle, resembling a rope-like nodular area within the muscle that is painful upon palpation and can refer pain and tenderness to a remote area.
TPs have been found to cause musculoskeletal pain throughout the body. They cannot be diagnosed by imaging or blood work; rather, they are revealed through functional examinations involving range of motion, strength, length and palpation assessments.
This type of pain in often chronic and may be relieved by chiropractic, physical therapy or massage.
Other effective therapeutic techniques that are commonly advocated for decreasing TP pain include dry needling, injections, fascial release and active release.
In my opinion, patients should be actively involved in their treatment, acting as their own primary pain managers with the guidance of a healthcare provider knowledgeable in identifying and treating this type of pain.
With the right instruction, many chronic musculoskeletal conditions can be managed at home by performing myofascial compression techniques. These techniques can also be used as a warm-up and warm-down for an exercise session or sporting event and have been shown to be effective for performance enhancement.
In a study published in Physical Therapy (Volume 80, No. 10, October 2000), results indicated that clinicians can manage pain associated with TPs through prescribing and monitoring a home program of ischemic pressure and stretching.
Myofascial Compression Technique
Compression is done using specifically designed tools (my preference being those designed by Trigger Point Performance – www.tptherapy.com) and using cross-friction (side to side movement), flexion/extension, pivots, pulls, traction and limb movement.
The goal is to increase tissue elasticity, enhance fluidity and restore function. This is done reflexively through pressure as well as mechanically by breaking up adhesions that are formed by faulty biomechanics and inflammation.
Proper breathing is essential as upper chest respiration involves using accessory muscles and can create stress in the body. Stress tightens up muscles.
Hydration is also important as it aids in temperature regulation, lubrication and transporting of nutrients, oxygen and waste products.
Where to Compress
With the right tools, any area can be addressed. The key is to identify those areas having the greatest influence on your specific condition.
Cassidy Phillips, founder of Trigger Point Performance, has identified six muscles/areas that significantly influence biomechanics. These include:
6. Thoracic spine
By manipulating these areas, one can achieve structural integrity and injury prevention.
Muscular adhesions can restrict range of motion, resulting in faulty movement patterns, altered coordination of movements by the nervous system, and inefficiency of movements. All of these increase the likelihood of developing and injury, or impairing athletic performance.
There is substantial evidence that performing myofascial compression techniques regularly (minimum of every other day) can reduce muscular adhesions, improve tissue elasticity, decrease pain and enhance athletic performance.
For more information on learning how to reduce pain or enhance performance using self-myofascial release techniques, please contact my office at 425-999-4484.