You say Knots, I say Trigger Points
Fibrotic tissue masses or trigger points, more commonly referred to as knots, are the worst. These bundles of damaged muscle tissue refer pain throughout the body.
Depending on your past massage experiences, you may think that hammering away on those knots with lots of pressure and high levels of pain is the solution. Not at Studio Q 360. My approach to trigger points is different, mainly because I wouldn’t pay someone to hurt me, also because of science.
Our bodies are made up of millions of tiny nerve receptors that help us identify the world around us. The nervous system lets us know what is hot or cold, sharp or dull, soft or harsh. We experience pain as a protection mechanism- if something is causing us pain we typically stop that activity.
Consider the automatic response of the Fight, Flight, or Freeze concept. First I perceive a threat or feel pain: I can either fight (and possibly encounter more pain), run away (hoping to reach safety), or stand stunned until the threat is so severe I end up reacting (or dying.)
Consider the Cheetah
During this time of Fight, Flight, or Freeze the body takes precautions to survive. Certain systems shut down to redirect available energy- digesting food isn’t as important as the stamina to run away from a cheetah. Other systems jump into high gear- breathing is heavier, the heart pumps faster, and larger muscles receive more of the oxygenated blood to ready for combat or the long sprint away from the cheetah.
The problem comes when there is no cheetah. I experience pain, my body readies for an attack, and yet there is nothing to fight or run away from. My muscles remain tense, my adrenal glands keep releasing stress hormones, the body continues to redirect my energy and this, my friends, is why the knots are there in the first place.
Remember- this is an automatic response. It is the same whether we’re still talking about the cheetah, I stub my toe on the coffee table, or a massage therapist has their elbow in the small of my back trying to work out a knot. Our bodies are not designed to interpret one kind of pain as therapeutic and another as a threat. To your body, its all the same.
Numb is not the same as Healed
What actually happens when you experience lots of pain during a massage? Your body starts to shut down- you go numb. While your mind may have tricked you into feeling nothing so you could survive for the moment, the root of the problem has been compounded and once that numbness wears off, the true problem will likely strike back with vengeance.
Relaxation and Safety are Key
My approach to knots starts with deep relaxation techniques to slow the heart and breathing which will reduce the flow of stress hormones. The goal is to help the mind relax and begin to realize it is safe-this moment is not life or death. Once a trigger point is found I direct slight pressure into the knot while encouraging my clients to breath as I count backwards from 12. This allows clients to regain a sense of control, identify the root of the pain, and direct their body to release. My clients find this gentle approach to be more effective and reassuring, resulting in longer lasting benefits.