PHOTOS BY Hillary Ehlen
Got pesky pains and aches? Let’s be honest, who doesn’t? And while sometimes these most definitely need professional help and assistance to eliminate, some can be minimized or worked out just by spending a little time digging into certain spots called trigger and acupuncture points.
Trigger points can help alleviate an array of things from headaches to digestive issues to those annoying aches and pains. The trick is knowing where these specific points are and how to use pressure to aid in those unpleasant twinges. Licensed massage therapist, reflexologist and certified craniosacral therapist, Katie Karn, shares how to find these points, how to efficiently apply pressure and essentially how to help minimize or relieve the pressure causing issues within the body.
Read on to find out how to find some relief from headaches, digestive issues, hip pain, “runners knee” and heel pain.
According to Karn, these are some important tips to adhere to for successful trigger point application:
- Find the trigger/acupressure point.
- Hold pressure at 5/10 on the pain scale. Note that sometimes with these acupressure points, you must start at even lighter on the pain scale.
- Wait for the tissue to release. You can feel it soften under your skin or you’ll begin to feel a decrease in the pain referral pattern.
- Once the tissue releases and the referral starts to dissipate, either go deeper into the tissue or move on and look for other trigger points in the area.
- Once the trigger points have been deactivated and “order has been restored to the muscle,” you can go ahead and roll the muscle out to promote some blood flow to the area, stretch the tissue (if it’s a muscle that needs stretching) and strengthen the tissue if necessary.
Note that using tools such as golf balls, tennis balls, a foam roller or lacrosse balls are great to use when massaging these trigger points.
1. Thumb/LI4 (Large Intestine 4)-On
This point is great for aiding in headache relief and digestive issues. Press on the “meaty” part of your hand between the thumb and pointer finger. According to Karn, this point should be avoided if pregnant, as it has been known to induce early labor.
Another word for the muscles in the back of the head, these guys will often cause irritable pain up toward the eyes and brow line. If you find this to be tight, Karn suggests placing two tennis balls into the bottom of a sock, tying it, placing the tool at the base of the skull and then relaxing on top of the homemade tool for relief.
3. Stomach 25
Suffering from constipation, diarrhea or any other intestinal discomfort? “Place two to three fingers parallel and alongside the center of the belly button. The point is at the edge of the last finger, three fingers away from the center of the belly button,” explained Karn. She goes on to mention, “Stimulating ST-25 also moves abdominal blood and can alleviate menstrual irregularities.”
4. Quadratus Plantae
Often the culprit for heel pain, this trigger point can be found on the bottom of the foot, directly above the heel. When it’s tight, it often causes uncomfortable heel pain. Karn says that it’s easy to find and work on in the morning or evening.
5. Glute Medius
This trigger point is located on the outer, upper area of the hip. Using a lacrosse ball or foam roller is especially effective in alleviating lower back pain or pain associated with the knee.
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