Healing Benefits of Pressure Point Massage
Pressure Point Massage
If you have ever had a sore shoulder, an achy knee, or other physical ailment, then you may benefit from pressure point or trigger point massage.
When the myofascia, or the soft tissue that covers the muscles, is overused or traumatized, it can tear and/or adhere. These injuries in the soft tissue are trigger points, and trigger points can cause pain and prevent muscles from working well.
Often these trigger points refer or send pain to a different part of the body. For example, an inflamed trigger point in the back can send shooting pain into the shoulder, causing sever pain. This pain is often mistaken as bursitis, when it is actually the firing of trigger points located in the back.
Trigger points are spots in the fascia that are hyper-irritable. They are easily irritated and cause pain in various areas of the body. Unexplained pain radiates from these points to broader areas in the body, sometimes located far from the original trigger point.
Pressure point massage is the technique of locating the trigger points on the body, then gently pressing or stimulating them, to cause them to relax. The gentle pressure of trigger point massage allows the muscle to stop its spasm and release, thus relieving the pain.
Often, when applying gentle pressure to a trigger point, a spasm will occur within the myofascia, indicating a release. It is imperative, however, not to overstimulate the point, because this may cause a new, more intense series of spasm.
Common trigger points and referral pain
Benefits of Accupressure
As a massage therapist, I have experienced the benefits of using acupressure on clients. The healing of trigger point therapy can have a profound effect on people suffering from a variety of ailments.
Some of the pain you can overcome using acupressure, or trigger point therapy include fibromyalgia, chronic myofascial pain, lower back pain, carpal tunnel and tennis elbow, arthritis, headaches, sore knees and feet, and sports and repetitive strain injuries. These are but a few conditions which can be effectively treated by an experienced massage therapist.
In addition to receiving massage to treat these symptoms, one can also learn to treat oneself. I will provide a few examples of how to perform acupressure on your painful areas. I will describe how to locate some common trigger points and how to manipulate them to relieve pain.
While it is good to get a professional massage, it may be time or cost prohibitive to do this on a regular basis. By learning to manage your own pain, and to relieve trigger points, you can help your body feel better, in between getting professional massages.
Understanding trigger points
Most people suffer from occasional headaches, due to stress, tension or exhaustion. This is a great place to learn this type of therapy. When suffering from a headache, begin by gently putting steady pressure on your temples, on both sides. After about one minute, rub the temple gently but firmly in a circular motion. Next, gently squeeze the bridge of your nose. Don't pinch it hard, but apply moderate pressure, again for about one minute. From the bridge of the nose, work the fingertips of both hands across the brow, out toward your hairline. Next, press your index fingers firmly on either side of your nose, gently pressing down and out, slightly opening the nostrils. Hold for about one minute, breathing deeply. Gently grasp each earlobe and pull down gently, then grasp the outer edge of the ear and pull out. There are a lot of nerves in the ear, and this relieves tension. After tugging the ears, reach your hands toward the back of your neck. Find the spot on your neck where your neck meets your skull, on either side of your spine. Gently rub this spot. By now, hopefully, your headache will be less, if not gone completely.
Another great pressure point for headache relief is located on the hand, on the web of skin between the thumb and index finger. Apply firm pressure in a circular motion for about a minute to each hand. This relieves headache pain as well as other referred pain in the hands and wrists.
In addition to these techniques, using a tennis ball to gently apply pressure to the trigger points on the neck will also help relieve headaches. The following video details the exact technique to use for headache relief.
Trigger point massage for headaches
Easing Foot Pain
A second area of pain, which is easily relieved through trigger point therapy is the feet. Pain in the feet may affect many other areas in the body. For the feet, gently roll each toe between your fingers. Next, apply gentle pressure to the area between each toe. Finally, rub you thumb firmly across the bottom of your foot, then down the length of each foot.
If you suffer from plantar fasciitis, a good remedy is to roll a tennis ball under the ball of your feet in the evening. A frozen water bottle rolled along the ball of the foot and along the length of the arch, to the heel, also relieves the pain.
In addition, gentle stretching will help relieve plantar fasciitis. This is done by pulling the toes toward the body, and flexing the foot, stretching the plantar ligament which runs under the length of the foot. Inflammation of this ligament is what causes pain when you get up in the morning, or when you stand after sitting for a couple of hours.
There are many trigger points located in the foot, which refer pain to a variety of locations in the body. Reflexologists know that the foot is the doorway to the body. The following chart shows some of those connections.
By firmly applying pressure to various pressure points in the foot, a variety of ailments can be alleviated.
Pressure points in the feet
Self foot massage
Benefits of Learning Self Massage
There are several benefits to learning a few simple massage techniques.
First, you will save time and money, and you will learn to help yourself. For those times when you've exercised too hard, have a sudden headache, or your neck is killing you, performing massage on yourself will give instant relief. You won't have to wait for the next available appointment, or to save up for a massage, you can do it yourself.
In addition, you will learn how your body works together and what feels best for your given condition. As you work on yourself, you will also become with what triggers those spasms and which pressure relieves them.
When you learn basic massage techniques, not only can you help yourself, but you may also relieve pain for your partner, your children, or other friends or family members.
A few minutes of learning, followed by practice will help you develop the skills you need to help yourself and your loved ones feel better in an instant.