Muscle Strain Or Trigger Point, How To Know The Difference
Runners are notorious for running through pain. The problem with our stamina is that we often end up injuring ourselves or creating a scenario whereby we are in constant pain. If you are feeling a muscle pull that simply won’t go away no matter how long you have rested it, it may be something other than a strain.
When you overwork a muscle or use it repetitively, it can result in something called myofascial pain syndrome. A fancy name for a trigger point, it can bench even the toughest runner out there.
A myofascial trigger point is a hypersensitive spot embedded in the fascia that surrounds the skeletal muscle. Fascia is just a fancy word for connective tissue or the muscle tissue that surrounds bones. It is the primary layer of collagen beneath the skin’s surface that attaches, separates, encloses, and stabilizes the muscles and other organs within the body. When it becomes weak or is overused, it shortens and becomes tight. Over time, it can create knots in the muscles that either can be felt or are completely indistinguishable. The biggest problem with a trigger the point is that they can keep you on the bench indefinitely if you don’t take steps to work them out.
What is a trigger point
A trigger point is a bundle of nerve fibers that continue to fire and cause pain to the sufferer. They not only cause severe pain, but they can also limit blood flow. There are points in the body where trigger points are more prominent, but they can happen anywhere. If you don’t address them, however, they are not likely just to disappear. In fact, if you don’t work them out, they can wreak havoc and cause your body to react in ways that cause malalignment leading to back pain or other injuries.
How to know if it is a muscle strain or trigger point
Trigger points are places that, when touched, produce severe amounts of pain. If you have a strain, it is likely going to produce swelling and respond to putting weight on it. A trigger point doesn’t change by positioning yourself in different ways or when weight bearing. Different from a sprain, it isn’t as accurate and doesn’t result from any particular injury. Like when you wake up with a crick in your neck, a trigger point can pop up anywhere and at any time. When you find the right point, you will know.
The way to work out a trigger point
The biggest problem with a trigger point is that one leads to two and so forth and before you know it, it can pull your spine out of balance. That can leave your body compensating in ways that can cause injury. The only way to take care of a trigger point is through deep tissue massage. Beware, it is not a painless process. Working out trigger points can be very painful, but the only way to get them to quit firing is by holding the nerve down until it stops contracting. A very arduous process, once you get it to release, you will get instant relief.
The way to prevent trigger points
The best way to get rid of a trigger point is to stop it from developing to begin with. Trigger points are the result of weak muscles that are overused. If your body is telling you that it needs a break, sometimes it is best not to push on through. Take a couple of days to recover and allow the muscle fibers to heal and recoup. Other ways to prevent trigger points is by weight training those vulnerable areas of the body that are most prone to injury. Building up your muscles to keep them strong will ensure that they remain elongated and don’t shorten and become tight. It is also important to start and finish each run with stretching exercises to keep your muscles elongated and in good shape.
Trigger points can be extremely frustrating for runners. Often not diagnosed correctly, they can take you out of the running indefinitely. If you are prone to get one, you will likely get more than one. That can have you chasing them from point to point, never finding relief. The best cure is prevention, weight training, and learning to listen to what your body is telling you. If you think it is a sprain, consider trying some massage for relief. It may be a combination of the two. After all, massage is an excellent way to get blood flow to heal a sprain and if it is a trigger point instead then you are covering all your basis to get back out on the road.