What are Trigger Points?
Trigger points are found in the muscle tissue of our bodies. These are described as –
- A knot in the muscle tissue.
- A small patch of tightly contracted muscle
- An isolated spasm affecting just a tiny patch of muscle tissue
- A grumpy little spot in your muscle tissue
Picture a straight piece of stretchy band, exercise bands. The band is stretchy. When it is healthy and relaxed, its stretching ability is fairly high. Now tie a knot in the middle of it, or bunch a section of it up in your fist. The band shortens. When you stretch the rest of the band, it now doesn’t reach as far.
In your body, the stretchy band is your muscle. The opposite ends of the band are attached to your bones and joints. As we go through life, we develop trigger points. When left untreated these continue to accumulate and pull the muscles even tighter. It is no wonder that our joints get achy as we get older.
What causes trigger points?
STRESS!! Stress can be caused by several different things.
- Repetitive and unaware overuse (using the same body parts in the same way hundreds of times on a daily basis) from activities such as typing/mousing, handheld electronics, gardening, house work, work environments, etc.
- Heavy lifting, carrying babies, briefcases, purses, boxes.
- Habitually poor posture, sedentary lifestyles and poorly designed furniture
- Direct injury – car accidents, sports injuries, falling.
- Muscle clenching and tensing due to mental/emotional stress.
Many times, the trigger points go unnoticed. We don’t even know they exist. The only way we would even notice them is if someone happened to push right on one. But like I said, they are small areas. We notice pain in our joints so we focus there. But we aren’t aware of the trigger points, and these are likely to be at least one of the causes of the pain, if not the cause. If they don’t get attention, they will eventually rear their ugly little heads.
For more on trigger point therapy, check out this awesome book by Clair and Amber Davies – The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook. Here’s a link –
The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief (A New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook)
With self-applied methods, trigger points can be treated successfully and you can find an amazing amount of relief. As they release, blood flow increases and the muscle fibers stretch back out again. It is like your muscle can breathe again!!
Emotional Trigger Points
I believe that emotional trigger points work the same way. We all have heart stings. Like our muscles, they come in many shapes and sizes.
Some of them are contained completely within ourselves. These allow us to connect with our own feelings. They empower us with abilities such as to love ourselves, to feel peace and contentment, and to be caught up in awe-inspiring beauty.
Some have one end attached in our heart and the other end attached in someone else’s heart. These connect us to our loved ones. They allow us to feel the love that is shared between people. We cry with them and laugh with them because of the heart strings that connect us. Some are strong ties with thick heart strings, while others are thinner.
Some of our heart strings connect us to our Creator. This can be a particular strong one when it is cared for and nurtured.
The Role of Heart Strings
Heart strings can grow in thickness or shrink. They are similar to muscles. When they are exercised and fed, they grow and when they are starved, they shrink. They are fed by opening both ends and allowing emotions to flow through in both directions, similar to the blood in our muscles. If blood is only allowed to flow in one direction, the muscle will not be healthy. This same is true for heart strings. They need to be a two-way path. If one end is clamped off, the path will not be healthy.
When heart strings exist between two people, if one is closed off to the connection, that heart string will be strained and die. Both if both ends are open, the emotions can flow safely in both directions and the heart string will gain strength.
Heart strings that are self-contained also need to open on both ends. For example –
You can learn to express your feelings, but close yourself off to accepting them.
This person is quite vocal in expressing their own feelings, but then is covered up with guilt, regret, self-focused anger, worry over what they said….
You can learn to accept your feelings, but never learn to express them.
This person knows how to feel everything from anger to happiness, but is afraid to show those feelings for whatever reason. They often remain wrapped up in self-judgment and how others perceive them.
Trigger points on the heart strings
Heart strings can get trigger points. They become clamped up or blocked off and a grumpy little spot when pressed on.
How do they form? The same way – by STRESS!
Ongoing emotional stress – relationship issues, poverty, raising children, caring for elderly, depression, health problems, stressful job, being too busy
Internal stress – negative thinking, rigid thinking, negative self-talk, perfectionism
Stress due to injury – a painful emotional experience – harsh words, gossip, breakups, public humiliation, abuse, witnessing abuse
How to rid the self of trigger points?
To get rid of physical trigger points, you must begin with awareness and knowledge. You have to learn where they are, which means learning how to find them. This requires learning about your body and its many parts. Once you locate your trigger points, self-massage and some tender loving care works wonders.
To rid yourself of emotional trigger points you also need to start with awareness and knowledge. You have to learn where they are. Which of your heart strings are knotted up? Relationships? Spiritual? Within yourself? Then you have to give them some self-massage and tender loving care.
Even if these trigger point have been there since childhood, this tender loving care can provide some immediate long overdue relief.
Chain Reaction of Trigger Points
In the body, trigger points affect each other. One trigger point in one muscle will bring tension to that muscle. This tension pulls on the joints, which pulls then on the muscles on the other side of the joint. This in turn causes the formation of more trigger points. Each and every one of our parts is connected. Tension in one part domino effects to the other parts. Fortunately, the same thing happens with the release of the trigger points. The release of one begins a chain reaction, allowing others to release.
The same is true for emotional trigger points. They also create a chain reaction, both for negative and positive change. Opening one is all it takes to start yourself on a very healthy path.
Trigger points are incredibly unhealthy, both physically and emotionally. Doing nothing about them is absolutely the wrong answer! You can treat your own trigger points, and the best news is that you will find relief very quickly.
What is necessary to tackle emotional trigger points?
A desire to get heatlhy – you have to want it. Everyone else can want it for you, but it won’t matter. It only matters if you want it.
A willingness to be vulnerable and experience pain – treating a trigger point is painful, extremely painful. When you are treating a physical trigger point, there is one way to know that you are massaging the right place – PAIN! Squeezing the healthy part of the muscle may feel good. It may even feel a little bit of that good sort of pain. You know the pain that feels productive. Not so with a trigger point – those are the spots that make you want to scream. Those are the parts that need attention the most.
This is true with emotional trigger points too. Dancing around the issues may feel good and may even feel a little painfully good and productive. But when you hit that spot that makes you want to scream, then you have found the part that needs attention the most. Don’t run from it! Allow yourself to experience the pain. I promise it won’t last forever. The knots will go away and love will flow once again.
A massage plan – If you have a massage plan to only rub your muscles in a way that feels good at the time, you won’t get much long-term improvement. On the other side, if you spend all your time digging into trigger points, you may lose your mind and find yourself screaming and running out the door. You have to balance the two. You need to focus on the trigger points because without getting rid of them you will never get complete relief. But as you work on them, you also need to spend some time helping the rest of the muscle to relax and feel good – gentle massage, hot bath, etc.
In Emotional Trigger Point Therapy, focus on the trigger points. These may be things such as painful childhood, abuse, lonliness, insecurity, broken relationships, those painful experiences that you have tried to bury deep inside. Bring them to the surface, give them some massage – talking with someone, journaling about it, crying, screaming. Whatever you need to do, but don’t run from it. Then follow this with some tender loving care for the rest of you. Gentle massage, hot bath, weekend retreat, lunch with a good friend, etc.
Keep treating any trigger points until they just aren’t so painful anymore. You won’t forget the experiences, but the crumped up heart strings will stretch out once again and fill up with love and happiness.