As your massage therapist I want to see improvements. As a deep tissue massage specialist I want to see them quickly!
You may have heard me say on occasion that "no matter what is going on there is always a trigger point making it worse" but quite often trigger point pain and discomfort can become chronic issues.
You get your regular massage or other therapy to reduce pain by addressing spasms and trigger points but there is an ongoing undercurrent that is undermining your efforts to live comfortably and it is.... your life. The massages are good, they are helping you stay at a certain level but I'm hearing the same complaints every week, or month, for a year.
Day to day, hour to hour and week to week life. How you work, play, stand, sit, dress, eat, breath can be, and probably are contributing and perpetuating your pain. These are "Perpetuating Factors" These are the daily, unnoticeable factors that can be changed or managed to further reduce pain and discomfort in your life. Let's say your 1 hour bi-weekly massage reduces pain for a week when you're back to see me at the plateau we've reached. It's time to start investigating the smaller culprits that are perpetuating symptoms. The following is a list of such perpetuating factors as found in the book by Devin Starlanyl and Mary Ellen Copeland "Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain". A worthy read. I organized the factors into 4 categories and it's a bit more than 12 in total.
Number one : Improper Breathing :
This factor affects us all. Short chest breathing hinders major muscle groups, our nervous system and pain perception. This military style breathing is shallow chest breathing that hardly engages our abdomen and diaphragm which open the lower lung. This style of breathing also activates our stress response, or enhances an already initiated state of anxiety.
Taking the time to learn to breath with the abdomen will help relax the pattern of holding tension in our chest, neck and head which are major contributing factors perpetuating your pain. It will also have a big impact on your experience of stress and anxiety, thus releasing even more tension.
Not to mention that a restricted diaphragm will cause hinderances with your esophagus, causing acid reflux.
Two: Environmental Factors:
Allergies: high histamine levels can internally set off trigger points. Finding ways to control your allergies will also improve body pain.
Seasonal: cold and damp weather affects our pain level as well as barometric pressure. Good to have at home therapies to combat this including heat packs and a stretching regimen. Check ahead for the weather to be prepared mentally as well as practically.
Make sure your feet stay dry in winter.
Furniture: Every piece of furniture you own may be working against you; chairs, desks, sinks, cabinets, car as well as public accommodations (airplanes, restaurants, public transport etc...)
Addressing these issues means taking time to see if certain pieces of furniture leave you stiff or in pain. This may mean replacing certain pieces and investing in better supportive seating, lumbar supports to modify your furniture, step stools and make sure you are taking frequent stretch breaks when at work or traveling. It may benefit you to set up a 10 minute massage at a nail salon when you reach your destination after long travel.
Number 3: Just stuff we do
Prolonged Sitting: The best or worst furniture wont make a difference if you are sitting for too long intervals. Often we get focused on our work that you don't notice the discomfort in your arms, shoulders or jaw. That's why you need to make the habit of getting up and out of the position entirely every 20 to 30 minutes. Take at least 10 seconds to walk a few feet, roll your shoulders and head then start again in a new totally new position (you have to stand up and get out of your chair! Set an alarm if you have to! I just did this 5 minutes ago...)
Long Fingernails on the Keyboard: never thought about this right, but it puts strain on the wrist, arms shoulder and face.
Improper Lighting: causes strain. You may have to supplement with some sort of clip light.
Flat Reading Material: I'm doing this one right now but because I don't write on the computer that often I do not have a proper solution to set the notebook I'm typing from in a good position besides my lap. Is this a poor excuse. Yes.
Crossing Your Legs: I'm also doing this one right now, balancing my notebook on thigh that's crossing over the other one. I need one of those like music stands. Correct the crossing of legs by resting your feet on a large binder on the floor with the heels on the high end, toes down. Hmmm this actually works!
Wrong Shoes: find the right shoes.
Heavy Bags/Suitcase: Ladies, you can downsize. Believe me, you can. Also wheels. If you haven't yet,,, wheels.
Tight Collar/Necktie: also bras, belts, socks, tight clothing, obesity.
Not Pacing Yourself.
There you go; a dozen or so little ways to improve your life. Even a small modification of any of these factors will benefit you.
When it comes to certain work attire there might not be too much we can do but you can remove what you can, when you can as soon as you can (in the car, at home, bathroom on train)
You might not be able to afford all new seating at home or work but see how much a pillow on your lower back helps.
Number 4: Co-existing Conditions
Now that I have gone over the perpetuating factors of pain and discomfort in your life that is prolonging and agitating the effects of trigger points and stress in your life let me quickly address another perpetuating factor that may help clarify a situation when the all else has been addressed and that's co-existing conditions. These are physical conditions that act has perpetuating factors. While there may be a limit on what you can do to manage the impact of these symptoms I'm here to tell you that often just knowing it is half the hassle. It can make a difference mentally and emotionally to at least know and understand where some of your discomfort comes from. Here are some co-existing conditions:::
Arthritis, ADD, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue, Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Depression, Esophageal Reflux, HIV, Hypermobility Syndrome, Thyroid Disorders, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Lupus, Lymes Disease, Migraine Headaches, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Multiple Sclerosis, PTSD, Seasonal Affected Disorder, Tempromandibular Dysfunction, Yeast Infection
These are the most common, certainly not the only perpetuating conditions.
Do you have any of these sneaky perpetuating factors in your life that haven't been addressed that can now be brought to light? Do any surprise you? (the long fingernails on the keyboard was unexpected) I hope this list helps you uncover many little ways to improve your LIFE day to day, hour to hour and week to week!