The best seller, “Getting To Yes,” explores the idea of principled negotiations. The idea is that you should not negotiate against the other person but toward a principle. It promotes that you should come to understand what the other person is trying to accomplish. Your better understanding of their goals turns the negotiation toward helping both of you to get what you want.
I’ve written a couple of manuals and thousands of papers on trigger points and related subjects. My friend Richard would say, “I can’t explain his therapy because he usually starts working somewhere that is nowhere near the pain that I describe but when the session is finished, I’m out of pain.” Richard, I’m trying to figure out what the trigger point wants so that I can help it.
The Trigger Point is clear that it will do three things; restrict contraction, restrict stretch and create referral (usually pain). If you’re a therapist, you can read more details about that here. Okay, it is telling me that I can try to use that section of muscle but it would really like me plan around that. What made it decide to do that? How can I convince it to let me use that muscle without re-activating the trigger point?
I was standing there one day thinking about how MDs dispense meds to relieve symptoms but don’t really treat the cause. I was standing there beside the table, actually. I had one hand over the arch of someone’s foot and the other hand was fiddling with the fibular head. The fibular head shifted and I noticed that the big, tender, trigger point just disappeared in the arch of the foot. Later, I smiled at the irony of the moment. The trigger point was protecting the joint that it crossed and when the joint freed up, the trigger point returned the muscle to full, painless power.
Trigger points are just trying to protect us from tearing up stuff that isn’t lined up right. It is like the way that hinges squeak and doors bind when my old house settles. It is just a message that I need to do more than just work on the door, I need to go in the basement, find what settled and give it some support. If I just work on the hinge, more serious things will be tearing up soon, like cracks in the walls.
Trigger points are good guys. Actually, the Goodfellas of Organized Pain. If I try to understand their purpose, it turns out that I have a similar purpose; protect the fragile things in the system so that performance improves. Integrative Bodywork says that I should be helping the system to become self-correcting. This is one of the first steps. There are things that make that fibular head go out of place but they’re a little higher in the Pain Organization. I’ll talk about that in another post. I’ve already put too many words in this post.
If you’re a therapist here’s a more detailed paper on Trigger point concepts.
Tony Preston has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points and cranial therapies since the mid-90s. He has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients.