Saturday, May 13, 2006

Beyond Stretching

Stretching your muscles won't really help if your muscles have trigger points. Trigger points are areas in muscles that are stuck in a contracted position, which reduces a muscle's ability to contract and stretch. Trigger points can pull on other nearby muscles causing something called referred pain.

Trigger points are created when muscles get stressed, either by an injury, overexertion or a pattern of stressful behavior that keeps a muscle constantly contracted.

The constant contraction of your muscles is stress. And stress causes cortisol to be released, which puts you into a heightened state of alert and increases your blood pressure and blood suger levels. Cortisol helps you cope with a stressful environment, but when the stress is in your body, its not doing you any good to react to your environment. It's detrimental to your health in so many respects if it persists. It can cause weight gain, diabetes and cardiovascular issues. It can also make you defensive and grumpy.

If you're into working out, cortisol can also interfere with your progress, making your workouts more tiring. Cortisol levels can soar during a workout, increasing cravings for carbohydrates. Your muscles aren't able to stretch or contract fully, which limits how much they can grow. Cortisol is actually catabolic, rather than anabolic, which means it helps break muscle down rather than helping muscle grow.

You can prevent the trigger points by warming up properly, building up your muscle strength, stretching, good work habits and avoiding positions that stress your body.

There's a great book about trigger point massage that helps you learn all about them and how to massage them away. You can learn about this book at There's also a link to amazon there that will let you buy the book for $13.


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