Eliminate Muscle Pain

Do you have muscle pain or discomfort at times throughout your day? "All the time!', you say. Are you by chance like I was in saying "I take such good care of myself, so why do I hurt much ot the time? Do you feel you are personally responsible for the stock price of the aspirin or anti-inflammatory drug manufacturers?
 Well, you've come to the right spot! Based on my experience in dealing with acute muscle pain after a shoulder operation in 2006, I learned to eliminate that pain, not just sometimes but all the time! During that period I learned:

That taking anti-inflammatories actually raises the pro-inflammatory/anti-inflammatory homeostasis!

That "omega 3s" supply you with the raw materials with which you can make your own anti-inflammatories!

Most, if not all, of muscle issues are due to muscle "trigger points"

That you can, by self-massage for about 10 - 20 minutes every day, eliminate said trigger points.

A surprising number of "Joint" issues are also due to muscle "trigger points". This includes wrist pain (often blamed on things like "Carpal Tunnel Syndrome") and knee issues - "Trick Knee", "Weak Knee", and the like - (often blamed on ligament problems).
Indeed, the "Self-Applied Massage" page (link is below) has two separate sections describing my success in eliminating wrist joint and knee joint issues by releasing taut, contracted muscles - that is, trigger points - associated with both joints.

Three Steps

So, where do we start? Your course in eliminating muscle pain involves three steps:
 Step 1: Learn how to release "trigger points" (contracted muscles), likely by visiting a professional body work person a few times, to see how they do it.
 Step 2: Add omega 3s to your diet. For most folks, this simply involves taking fish oil tablets, or eating cold water fish two or three times a week.
 Step 3: Learn how to do your daily "muscle work", which is a 10 - 20 minute self-massage, in part using the Theracane tool.
 I will cover these three steps in greater detail below. And, of course, it wouldn't be the Wracklineblog without a "Going Deeper" section at the end!

I wish to leave you, my readers, with the confidence that you can:

Eliminate, or at least drastically reduce, muscle pain from your life.

Solve your own muscle issues with simple muscle work. So, when your "back goes out" or when you "pull a muscle", you can self-treat the affected muscles rather than reach for anti-inflammatories and pain pills.
P.S. Backs don't "go out". Instead one or more muscles form a "trigger point" and tense up, and simply need to be released.
P.P.S. Joints don't "go out". At least not all the time. Often some muscles near the joint tense up and simply need to be released.

Your commitment, in order to achieve these goals, is to be willing to do about 10-20 minutes of muscle work each day. This is the self-applied massage, with one or two stretches afterwords.
 Well, there might be another commitment: dietary change. This is actually a two-part approach to eliminating muscle pain. The first part is the muscle work and the second part is to avoid the types of foods that cause inflammation.

Another reason to eliminate muscle pain is that muscle pain is the best argument that we use to convince ourselves that we are getting old! It's very important to eliminate the "O" word from our vocabulary!

So how does this dietary part work?

Dr Weil book

In 2006 I had a shoulder arthoscopy, to repair muscle that was torn by a bone spur. After that procedure, I experienced big-time inflammation - not in the shoulder where the operation was done, but in some of the other muscles! Apparently they didn't like the extra work due to my right arm being immobilized in the sling. My back was on fire, and sleep was very difficult. I actually had to buy a reclining chair because I couldn't sleep on a flat bed!
 After a week on the typical anti-inflammatories that did not seem to be doing any good, I decided to check out some nutritional books to see if there might be any alternative to the constant intake of drugs. At the bookstore I was fortunate (or guided) to have picked up the right book at the right time. The book was "8 Weeks to Optimum Health", by Dr Andrew Weil.
It was this book that gave me the first hint that we can EAT our way to pain relief rather than MEDICATE our way to pain relief!
 I glanced at the fourth chapter, in which Dr Weil spoke about working with a woman in her early sixties who had osteoarthritis and was taking various NSAID drugs. He described his list of suggestions for her, intended to reduce her inflammation. He noted that her food intake, so typical of our American diet, actually promoted inflammation. He then offered many dietary suggestions, among them to change her diet to include olive oil rather than partially hydrogenated oils like margarine. Further, she was to reduce the anti-inflammatories and start eating more fish, and to take a fish oil supplement.
 So what's wrong with taking anti-inflammatories? Dr Weil explained that your physical form always strives for homeostasis. There is an elaborate system of prostaglandin production that creates a balance between pro-inflammatory actions and anti-inflammatory actions. When you take an anti-inflammatory drug, the natural reaction is that your physicality, in order to restore the homeostatic balance, begins to produce more of the inflammation-promoting prostaglandins!
So my intake of the anti-inflammatories was causing me to maintain an inflamed state!
 It is better to eat the foods or supplements that provide the building blocks with which your physical form will make its own anti-inflammatories, as they are needed. By taking omega 3s, you soon have a buffer of raw materials with which you can make your own anti-inflammatory prostaglandins! (Note that the effect is not immediate, but starts to take effect a month or two after starting the omega 3 supplementation.)

A few words about the "Inflammatory Diet" business:
 The best way to change your diet from pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory is to switch to Plant Based Diet, at least in part. Try to eliminate beef, pork, and chicken from your diet. Why?

Meat supplies some protein and some B vitamins, but that's about it. But fruits and vegetables supply all the really powerful stuff - the "phytonutrients" - allicin, anthocyanidins, beta carotenes, lutein, sulforaphanes. These compounds are antioxidants; they greatly improve immune function; they are strong anti-cancer agents. And, you can actually get all the protein you need from beans, lentils, nuts and the like.

You will have significantly higher energy levels - it takes a lot of energy to digest meat.

Your food circulates freely, and does not stagnate in the digestive system. This also helps eliminate cancers, especially in the bowels.

So now I experience this "buffer effect" on a fairly regular basis. For example, I might feel a slight headache coming up, due perhaps to a bit too much yardwork (and not enough water to dilute the excess toxins). I think about taking an aspirin like I used to, but soon I forget about it because the headache just goes away. Or perhaps I piss off a muscle doing the same yardwork. I find that - rather than reach for the aspirin - I just go work the affected muscle with the Theracane, and soon the pain simply subsides.
 (What's a "Theracane"?, you ask. I'll explain soon.)
Important note (I learned the hard way!):
 In switching to "natural" compounds, don't stop taking the NSAIDs suddenly! Why? Because of the reason described above: the constant intake of anti-inflammatories has raised the homeostatic level higher. Your physicality is cranking out more inflammatories to counteract the powerful anti-inflammatories. If the anti-inflammatories stop, there is temporarily an abnormally high level of inflammation. I really hurt when I made this mistake!

Trigger Points

The key to all of this is learning about muscle trigger points and their treatment. In the Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, by Clair and Amber Davies, we find that a trigger point is a "highly irritable localized spot of exquisite tenderness" involving a taut band of muscle tissue.
 Put simply, trigger points are small regions of tension and contraction where your muscles have "knotted up on ya". In some cases, you can feel these regions, either as a small knot or - less commonly - as a taut rope. Trigger points sound simple, but their effects can be devastating - you can't bend over to pick up things, can't reach up to the top shelf, can't sit comfortably, can't sleep well, and you hurt. This is mainly because, although the "trigger point" may be a small spot, the entire muscle is tightly contracted.
 Medical science might claim that you have arthritis, tendinitis, bursitis, joint or ligament injury, or bad spinal disks, and its solutions range from pain pills, muscle "relaxants", and even operations.
But the solution might be as simple as correctly applied pressure and massage.

So . . .how do you "work" a trigger point?
 The best way to learn how to do this is to go get a trigger point massage from a professional. (This may be also be referred to as a "neuromuscular massage", "deep tissue massage", or even "accupressure massage".) This way you can get valuable information about where trigger points are, and you can observe firsthand how to apply pressure to release them. Another benefit of having such a massage is that they work. During my time of severe muscle pain, the trigger point massage gave me my first big relief, and the first night of decent sleep.
 Note: Trigger point massages can be "uncomfortable", especially if it is your first one. Reasons for this: Remember the definition of a trigger point - "a highly irritable localized spot of exquisite tenderness". The masseuse will be finding all these tender locations, and pressing fairly firmly on each one of them. The masseuse will also be uncovering lots of old dormant triggers in other areas. So an aspirin might be in order before you start!

So, before we start with the self-applied massage pictures, here are the two "Tools of the Trade":

Tools of the Trade: The Theracane and The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook

The Theracane
 The Theracane is used to work anything you can't reach, such as the upper and lower back, the glutes, the hamstrings, and the like. It is also used to apply more concentrated pressure to a given area. The author likes to pad the tip of the curved area with a kid's ankle sock, secured with some twine.

The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook
 If you want a book that describes how to perform this self-treatment of your own trigger points, that would be The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, by Clair and Amber Davies. This is your body work manual. It's priceless. You will consistently find just about everything you need to know how to eliminate pain in all the troublesome spots, including the upper and lower back, the shoulders, the hamstrings, the calves, and so on.

Theracane Trigger Points

The Self-applied Massage

Here's our fully illustrated lesson for you. It shows how to do your daily "self-applied body work",
with pictures and descriptions showing all the specific areas,  along with tips detailing which ones
are likely to be more sensitive due to pre-existing trigger points.  For ease of reference, we show
this on a separate page. Just click the image on the right.


Got Acute Trigs? Need More Tips?

Does it seem like you're just making it worse?   Do you feel like  "I'm nothing but an ambulating  
Trigger Point"? Then click this image for more detail on working the trigs.

trigger points

So, let's take this a little deeper...
Turning a negative into a positive:
All this business of self-applied massage and muscle work can be seen as turning a negative into a positive. The negative was the constant low grade inflammation and recurring muscle pain. The positive is the ability to be free of muscle pain and especially to effortlessly release muscle pain that comes up, using a bit of massage and/or Theracane work.
 There are other examples of this as well:

For example, somewhere in my mid-40s I began to notice that it was becoming more and more difficult to go up stairs. "Well, It's started: I'm finally getting older", I said at first. Fortunately I had already learned that this is the sort of language by which we DO grow old, and that our words - spoken with the authority of the Universal Consciousness - can create things like "age". So I countered that by beginning to adopt a habit of going up stairs on purpose, two at a time no less. Soon I became a regular fixture on the less-traveled staircase at my place of work.
 The effect is that ever since then, stairs are no longer a problem. Indeed, I use stairs as a form of cardio exercise!

As another example, I experienced several extremely discomforting vertigo episodes somewhere in my late 30s. I would look with envy and isolation at other drivers thinking, "I wish I could take balance for granted again."
 But after some research, I began to do daily balance exercises (after the morning muscle work). After a while the continual fear of dizziness episodes passed, and now I experience better balance than I did when younger! I have an article on Vertigo in the "Health and Nutrition" section of my blog.
 Please forgive the sudden barrage of the pronoun "I"! But the intention is to give some examples of turning negatives into positives.
 Suppose for example you find that getting up from a squat is becoming more and more difficult, more and more likely to be accompanied with an "Uh!" Or, you find that you are reaching for something to help yourself get up most of the time.
 Well, you can use your trusty ol' stairs to fix this! Simply go down the stairs slowly! Place one foot near the next stair down, but hold yourself with your knee bent and the foot suspended just above that stair. Hold for a second or two and then put your weight on the foot. Go down the stairs this way. Repeat this by going up and down the stairs a few times. Try it sometimes while holding 8 or 10 lb weights.
 After a few weeks of doing this several times a day, it'll be "What problem getting up from a squat?" Note also that going down some stairs slowly, suspending yourself with one foot, helps improves your balance too.

And finally, one last thought:
 Try to do your muscle work with a little "mindfulness". No daydreaming about what you are going to do later in the day. At least: NO work-related musings!

Copyright © 2018 J.A.