Massage therapists need to be aware of their body mechanics while performing massage sessions, and should employ self-care techniques in between sessions to ensure career longevity. Here are some ways to work smarter, not harder, when tackling trigger points.
- Part of the reason for using ischemic compression on trigger points is to suffuse the area with blood to help restore a biochemical balance in the tissues. Ensure an adequate supply of blood in the area by warming the tissues with moist heat before you work on trigger points, and releasing any adhesions that may restrict circulation.
- Use a hand tool instead of your fingers or thumbs whenever appropriate.
- Don’t hold pressure for long periods of time. Some trigger points might be more effectively treated with a series of short strokes rather than sustained pressure. If the trigger point does not begin to react after a few seconds, you may not be directly on it (some trigger points are very small and hard to locate). It may also be a tender point that is better treated with techniques like strain-counterstrain or positional release. Reposition your pressure, or try a different technique.
- If an area has a series of trigger points, work on the most tender one first. If all are similar in tenderness, work on the most proximal or medial one first. These points are more likely to be the original trigger points, while the others in the area may be secondary or satellite trigger points. Treating the primary point may make the secondary points release by themselves.
- Use passive and active stretching of the muscles you have treated to help your clients integrate the work you have done.
- Limit the number of primary trigger points you treat in one session to avoid overworking your clients.
Reproduced with permission from Save Your Hands! The Complete Guide to Injury Prevention and Ergonomics for Manual Therapists, Second Edition, , C.E.A.S., and Richard W. Goggins, C.P.E., L.M.P., © 2008 Gilded Age Press. For more information, visit www.saveyourhands.com. Read their blog here.