Weight lifting: without knowledge or proper techniques, I over worked some muscle groups, strained others, and pulled several muscles, all of which caused a lot of muscular imbalance,knots(trigger points).
Hand balancing: At the height of my hand balancing days, I could walk a 1/4 mile on my hands, climb stairs, and do 7 stationary inverted hand balancing push ups touching my nose on each push up. To get to that level of the sport, I fell down stairs,and thoroughly bashed my whole upper body. All of those injuries have generated muscle tension and trigger points.
Bike crashes, fights, falls.
I was in good shape so the injuries healed, and the trigger points and stress faded into the background, and did not cause any issues accept for shoulder tightness until I was about 35. At that point I was a TV repairman, a pretty physically and mentally high stress job.
On a weekend, I lifted a 5 lb stone while walking, and threw it to the side. I heard a loud snap, and got a severe pain in my lower back. The pain was so severe that I fell to my knees and had to slowly crawl back to the house. It took countless bottles of Motrin and weeks of pain until I could function again, and even when I could work, the pain was always there.
Doctors were not much help, as they wanted to feed me more pills, or operate to fuse the suspect vertebrae.Physical therapist preached rest and stretching, both of which did not help.
My Wife is Japanese, and we went back to Japan to visit her family several years after the back incident ~ 1988.
My back was really acting up from the long plane ride and sitting and sleeping on the floor was not helping. Sue's eldest sister was married to a blind shiatsu master. Japanese Shiatsu Tsunetaro offered to take a shot at fixing my back with his centurys old techniques. He had me sit on the floor, and he stood behind me and pressed with his thumbs right where my tension was the highest. He lifted his 130 lbs off the floor and bounced to increase the force. I was holding back my tears and screams (Grown men don't cry. Yikes it hurt!). After working the whole shoulder/ neck area in this fashion for ten minutes or so, he was done with session 1. I stood up, and could not believe that my back pain that had always been in the background for the past 3 years was totally gone,I could touch my toes again. The tension started coming back a little later that evening, so he did another session. One final session in the morning, and we were back on the road to visit more relatives. There was no back pain for the remainder of the trip, and the pain did not return for 5-6 months, until I triggered it by lifting a big TV.
I was amazed that this simple technique could do what drugs and doctors here could not do, so I bought several books on Shiatsu, and started treating my self. Being a curious engineering type, I treated the aches and pains in my body as a technical problem to solve, I studied anatomy books and ran into several books on trigger point therapy. Through experimentation, I learned that balls of different sizes and densities between me and the wall or floor allowed me to target trigger points on most of my body, including the all important upper back and neck areas. Shiatsu and trigger point therapy are simply variations on the same technique, which goes back into ancient Chinese healing techniques. In the past 30 years of using this technique,I have developed the ability to locate and release trigger points in my body,and relieve pain quickly when stress and tension get out of control.
The old adage that you are only as old as you feel, rings true for me. At 65, I can still go windsurfing, rake leaves and shovel snow with no back pain, and continue to get freer in the neck and shoulder area as I release the trigger points that have been there since I was 18.
This amazing technique is only touched on in medical and massage schools,and only recently has it started to become more widely recognized as the people that are helped spread the word.If you research the subject, you will see some really amazing stories of people that have suffered for 20 years or more completely erasing all pain in a few weeks of self treatment. It has been found that all of us carry multiple trigger points in our muscles.
My theory on how it works:
The muscles are controlled by electrical pulses from nerves. The Muscles and nerves are sheeted in a white membrane called fascia. This material has a piezoelectric effect, so as it flexes it generates electricity. This is probably the position feedback sensor for the muscle. The amount of muscle contraction of the joints can be determined by the brain from this feedback and the limb or muscle is controlled like a position feedback servo. A sharp blow to a muscle is also a sharp blow to the surrounding fascia/feedback system. This blow causes injury, and a shorting of the muscle nerve and fascia materials, and the muscle goes into a knot/trigger point (Positive feedback oscillation. Think microphones and speakers).As the muscle heals, the fascia and nerves get locked into this oscillation/trigger point, and will stay there for life, gradually the soreness fades,and the injury heals, but the cross wired/shorted muscle,fascia, and nerves form a trigger point that can stay there waiting to flare up at the first provocation.(snow shoveling, raking, digging, lifting, another bruise). The difference between an active muscle spasm/cramp and a trigger point is only a measure of degree, a cramp is severe pain, with the whole muscle involved, a trigger point is smaller and only involves the trauma point and only hurts when you press on it, but can flare back up into a full muscle cramp if aggravated. Trigger point therapy applies pressure and movement right on the trigger point/knot, and this force and movement changes the blood circulation and moves and stretches the damaged nerve,muscle and fascial connections,this allows the muscle to relax,thus breaking the feedback loop. No muscle acts alone, so a kind of muscle memory in the area will bias the now relaxed muscle towards the oscillation direction, but not as strongly as before as we make the area begin to forget the trigger point through repeated release, eventually the trauma is forgotten and the trigger points do not return.
Test have shown that up to 75% of all chronic pain can be lessened or cured with trigger point therapy. Carpal tunnel, frozen shoulder, lower-back and knee pain, the list is long and familiar.
IMHO most of the aches and pains of old age are simply our bodies reacting to the hundreds of trigger points we all have acquired throughout life.
The best part of this technique is that you are the best person to administer trigger point therapy to yourself. You can feel when you are on the trigger point and how hard to press better than the masseuse can.
As part of my ongoing fascination with this technique,recently got a book that is a great DIY manual for using trigger point therapy. DIY trigger point therapy It is available on line from many sources including a direct download. The most amazing thing for me was to see how the writer came to exactly the same conclusions that I have as to the best techniques to apply the therapy to your self through the use of balls. If you master these techniques, you will be able to control or eliminate many of the causes for chronic pain in your body,relax and balance your whole posture,and have more energy and less pain than you have had for years. All it takes is this book,a few balls and a commitment to learn how to control your own pain without drugs or operations, while developing an increasing awareness in how your body stores stress and tension, and how to keep that tension at a minimal level. If we had been exposed to this technique in high school or before,we would have learned to be self sufficient in dealing with most of the bumps and bruises in life,rather than going to doctors for every pain that comes along.The cost of health care would not be the big problem it is today. Reverse the aging process, become involved in your bodies repair, I highly recommend this to all. More information: trigger point therapy