Fitness experts agree that the "miracle drug" for practically everything in "exercise"! It reduces the coronary artery disease, blood pressure, helps maintain body weight within normal limits, helps prevent or alleviate low back pain, and improves the immune system and increases energy. Exercise heads the list of techniques for dealing with life's inevitable tensions, stresses and strains healthfully (and without drugs).
Unfortunately for people with trigger points there is a problem. Exercising muscles with trigger points only seems to irritate them and cause even more pain. Since this is one of the muscle health topics not normally taught in physical therapy this is often a complaint patients have with their therapists. The exercise program their therapist put them on made it worse.
The fault lies in not recognizing TPs effect on muscles. It's important to exercise and strengthen muscles to recover from trauma and to regain a healthy lifestyle. However, exercise irritates TPs and causes them to flare up into pain. If it's done too much or too fast (a normal exercise program) it actually makes things worse.
The trick is to do exercise in moderation (very moderate) in the beginning. If TPs are active which means they are noticeable as pain, discomfort or strong stiffness after rest and non-movement for an hour or more then exercise should not be prescribed until the TPs have been reduced somewhat. When a person can feel the symptoms only when being active but at rest for an hour or more they seem to subside to minimal or nothing an exercise program can begin.
It's important to continue with the TP therapy to try to eliminate them while you're strengthening at the same time. In a sense you are trying to do two totally opposite things at the same time - get some muscle cells to stop contracting in spasm (the TPs) and get other muscle cells to become stronger in their ability to contract.
Initial exercise should be without any weights and somewhat slow in speed. With TPs it's far better to do minimal or no weight with more repetitions then have weight and fewer reps. For an example - back exercise should start by standing upright and bending down to reach for the toes and then back up to a quick count of ten. Do this for 10 reps then rest for a few moments then do it again. Do 3 sets for a total of 30 reps. If you've done it properly you will feel a little stiffness but no pain in the back. Do this twice a day. Keep at this level for one week. The next week do 15 reps time 3 sets for a total of 45 reps twice a day. Increase by 5 to 10 each week until you get to doing 50 reps per set. Then go back to 10 reps but hold about 3 to 5 pounds in each hand as you do them. Do this until you reach 50 reps per set again. Now you should be able to go into a full exercise program for the back.
If you are doing this program properly it will take longer than you might expect (a few months) but you will gain the strength, eliminate the TPs and do so without the pain normally associated with such exercise therapy. If at any time you begin to feel the TPs building up again or it hurts stop and wait a day or two and begin again at ½ of where you left off.
There are no special exercises for TPs. The key is to develop the exercise program slowly without irritation.
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