Organized Pain can create different types of enforcement with muscles. It is for your protection. Really. We usually think of our muscles, connective tissues and bones as these things that gives us shape and move us around but they also protect us in many ways.
Padding. Our muscles offer a layer of gelatinous padding that can be hardened to protect us from an expected blow. If you hit the muscle hard enough to damage it, the Disrespected Hitman steps into action. When that happens, he fires trigger points to stop you from using the offended muscle until it is repaired.
Warmth. Our muscles shiver when we are really cold. When we are chilled, they fire less dramatically but still contract to generate warmth. During autumn, when the temperature is dropping, massage and bodywork practices see an increase in cases of hip pain as abdomens and hips involuntarily contract more to warm internal organs. Trigger points generate more pain when the muscle tries to contract, even when that is contraction is to generate heat.
Bracing. The Informants keep track of the muscle’s movement. Organized Pain protects fragile or injured areas. The Informants tell our nervous system about problems like injured muscle or displaced joints so that The Obedient Hitman can be put in play. Sometimes, it is gentle pain like that “good stretch feeling” that we get when we slowly lengthen a less active trigger point. Sometimes, it is sharp pain when we try to lengthen a muscle that has a very active trigger point. Sometimes it is the achy pain that we get from steady contraction, like when the hip pain we get from driving for long periods.
This concept is key in providing lasting relief. If you’re a therapist and would like to read more about his, look at this paper on myofascial protection.
If you’re a client, pay attention to how and when your pain occurs. The activities that cause certain trigger points to fire are well documented. Your therapist can use this in neuromuscular assessment to pinpoint the trigger point.