Releasing trigger points with accessories: what are they and what are they for?

24 de abril de 2019

Up to 75% of the patients’ pains are due to trigger points. Everyone has inactive trigger points throughout their bodies that, when activated, become tensioned knots. Getting rid of those painful knots is not that difficult: trigger points can be treated by myofascial release techniques and potentialized by its special accessories.

But, before getting into the subject itself, let’s talk a little about two important matters: the problem (trigger points) and the technique (which is not new, but still deserves to be more deeply studied). The technique has been fascinating those who had the opportunity to experience its benefits.

What are trigger points and how are they formed?

As we already said, trigger points are tensioned knots that cause pain. These knots can occur in various body tissues: muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, etc. These are just the most common ones.
Active trigger points are very perceptible, the patient can simply touch them since they form lumps. Yet it turns out that not all painful trigger points are active. Also, some of them are not completely inactive, but remain latent, which means that they are only perceptible by pressuring the exact point. Direct pressure on the location of a latent trigger point triggers the pain mechanism.
There are also the satellite trigger points. They are generated by the pain irradiation of an already irritated trigger point. The affected tissues tighten, creating new trigger points.
However, in any of the cases, all the related tissues get affected, not just the trigger point itself. The consequence of it is the so-called referred pain, which has many explanations, being one of them based on the neurological system.
The neurological system is formed by a complex network of nerves and cells that send messages to various parts of our body. These messages can go wrong at some moment, and a trigger point may cause pain elsewhere and not just in the affected knot.
This is why its treatment gets so difficult: many diagnoses are inappropriate, which results in inadequate treatment. Most of these trigger points, anyway, can be easily managed and treated by myofascial release technique.

trigger point release
Imagem: Shutterstock

Causes

The possible causes of excessive tensioning that results in a trigger point can be many:

  • Exercising without professional help, which leads to excessive effort and wrong postures;
  • Lack of exercise also affects the formation of trigger points. The human body was not made to stand still for long periods. Just as muscles, tendons, fascia, and ligaments are harmed by excessive stress, they get harmed when there is no effort at all as well;
  • Sometimes a trigger point can be activated by the way patients use a computer, watch tv, sleep, etc. Inadequate and uncomfortable positions are also harmful;
  • Sudden movements, falling, hitting, and other factors besides training cause muscle trauma and generate trigger points;
  • Stress-related muscle contractions can create trigger points as well. In situations of psychological tension, our body releases hormones like cortisol that, in high concentrations for a prolonged period, are prejudicial to our muscles.

Habit changes after releasing trigger points prevent them from coming back. So, it is important to discuss with patients their history (both genetic and individual), as well as habits and recent events that may have caused the pain.

Releasing trigger points with the myofascial release: what is the technique all about?

Myofascial Release is a type of hands-on therapy according to which the physical therapist applies pressure on the patient’s body. It has a lot of uses and is effective in many different treatments, including disabling trigger points.

trigger point release
Imagem: Shutterstock

Releasing trigger points with an accessory

Myofascial release is an old technique that has been evolving along with technology. It can be performed with bare hands, as we saw, or with the aid of accessories!
There are two essential differences between manual and instrumental manipulation: the reached depth and the effort applied by the therapist. Superficial tissues are not a problem and can be easily reached manually. Anyhow, while it brings some relief, the treatment will not be enough to release deeper trigger points. With instrument assistance, patients will experience deeper tissue reach and better application accuracy.
In addition, in order to achieve the required pressure, therapists need to use some strength. The strength employed is, however, limited, what makes the practice of myofascial release also limited. Daily sessions have to be reduced to avoid overload and injury in the physiotherapists themselves.
Therefore, we have to work with technology that helps us to achieve greater results, for both patients’ and therapists’ sake. So let’s now properly approach the trigger point release special tool that we talked about before!

trigger point release
Imagem: Shutterstock

Thumb Saver

The Gatilhex Thumb is a tool developed specially to reach and release all trigger points, whatever their cause and depth are.
It is literally a thumb made of steel that reproduces the shape of the physiotherapists’ thumb while increasing its reach capacity. And because it is made of stainless steel, it requires about a third of the force specialists would apply during manual therapy.
Loved among many physical therapists, Gatilhex Thumb replaces the need for using the thumb to release trigger points and, also, to perform punctual slidings. Besides, the material makes it virtually lifelong because it does not get rusted. Because of it, the accessory is a lifelong investment!
Gatilhex Thumb is just one of various instruments that aid the performance of myofascial release. Know more on our facebook page!

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