In my last post we looked at trigger points; what they are, how they form and how massage can help alleviate them. This time we’re looking at aftercare between massages and for everyday life that can help prevent the formation of these tight and painful areas in muscles.
What is Aftercare?
In the massage world we refer to the advice massage therapists give their client at the end of a treatment as ‘aftercare’, this varies from practitioner to practitioner but with the common aim giving you self help tips to help alleviate the symptoms you’ve come in with.
For me, aftercare starts at the initial consultation. I find out about your lifestyle, what you do on a daily basis, what hobbies and exercise you do and combine this with what you tell me about injuries, problem areas or symptoms you’re experiencing e.g. tiredness, aches, stress. Whilst I’m massaging you, I’m noticing patterns in the body, differences between the left and right sides or any imbalances that are present. All this comes together to provide aftercare which you can do to help you between sessions.
Usually there are obvious things which are causing problems, such as sitting at a desk all day which can cause lower back pain, looking at a screen that’s the wrong height and too bright which can cause tightness in your neck, having your mouse in the wrong place which can cause arm and shoulder tightness or consistently exercising and consistently not warming down and stretching. Sometimes it needs more unpicking such as constantly running on an uneven surface in the same direction cause tightness in one leg, walking the dog everyday which causes tightness in the arm and shoulder you hold the lead or an old injury which has created adhesions in the fascia and is preventing muscles from working efficiently. Once you have an idea of what may be causing the trigger point then you can make a change to reduce it.
Following the massage I use my knowledge as a personal trainer and experience of having been through several injuries and physical rehabilitations to provide advice tailored to your specific situation.
There is no one size fits all with aftercare as everyone is so different, I can only give very specific advice when we have spoken and through massage been able to identify what might be going on for you. That said, there are many things we can all do everyday that will help prevent the build up of tension in our muscles and helps prevent the aches and pains we live with.
Top Five Ways to Reduce Trigger Point Formation
One of my main aims with aftercare is to create physical and mental awareness. If you’re able to notice patterns and habits in your everyday activities then you are able to make a conscious choice to change them. Sometimes you may need some help in resetting the pattern or finding another alternative but ultimately, if you are aware that you’re doing something you can change it.
There are so many benefits to keeping our bodies moving! Specifically with regards to reducing trigger point formation it increases blood flow to muscles which keeps the removal of waste products more efficient.
Little and often is better than none at all so building tiny things into your routine all helps. Balance on one leg whilst brushing your teeth or washing up, always take the stairs, park the car further away in the car park, do incline press ups every time you walk up the stairs, hang your feet off a step and stretch your calves each time you go up the stairs. If you’re sat at a desk all day make sure you take regular breaks and always take a lunchtime walk, no matter what the weather is doing.
Yoga is great for body and mind. Find a local class and go at least once a week to work your muscles, improve strength and flexibility and also de-stress.
I took up yoga many years ago when I was struggling with a number of injuries and the difference it made to my recovery was enormous. I improved my core strength and was more aware of how my body moved but most of all it allowed me to focus my mind on breathing and moving, rather than worrying about my injuries so I was less stressed as well!
Trigger point balls and foam rolling
If you’re experiencing pain from a trigger point then trigger point balls or foam rolling are brilliant ways to help yourself. The first few times you do it you may be surprised by how much it hurts, but stick with it as it gets much easier. Roll the ball or roller along your body until you feel a sensitive area then apply pressure until the pain subsides. There are lots of resources on YouTube that can help you do this.
I have a trigger point ball on my desk and I use it all the time. I roll the soles of my feet to keep them supple as I’m on my feet a lot, I sit on it and trigger point the gluteus muscles which I use when I cycle, I also roll put it against a wall and roll the back of my neck which gets stiff from looking at a screen. Definitely one to have around if you work at a desk a lot!
Have regular massage
The list wouldn’t be complete without including a regular massage as a way to reduce trigger point formation. Sometimes, your aftercare might simply be to come back for another massage at shorter intervals until you’re able to use self care. Find a local practitioner (make sure they’re qualified and insured) or if you’re in the Weston Super Mare area book in now.
I hope this has been a useful article for you and you’re able to incorporate some of the tips, let me know how you keep trigger points at bay in the comments below.