The best trigger point tool I’ve ever used
Jennifer Fitzharris-Funk reviewed TolaPoint for a competition on Minneapolis Running.
I’ll cut to the chase – TolaPoint is simply amazing and hands down the best trigger point tool I’ve ever used. It’s a unique system that includes assembly options that are nearly endless.
What is a trigger point?
The true nature of trigger points is uncertain. One theory is that a trigger point is a patch of excessively contracted sarcomeres, characterized by a reduced supply of blood and consequently elevated levels of metabolic waste. (Sarcomeres are the overlapping protein threads that make up muscle.) The pooled metabolic waste is the source of the irritation and pain, and would usually be removed from the site by the normal flow of blood through the area. To the extent that the intense contraction has reduced blood flow to the trigger point, the body’s natural ‘flushing mechanism’ fails, the tissue is irritated further and – in a viscous cycle – the contraction is maintained. See here.
Why do trigger points matter?
Trigger points are believed to cause muscle weakness and be a factor in many common and debilitating aches and pains, including headaches, neck pain and low back pain. See here.
How do I know I have a trigger point?
There is no 100%-reliable way to identify a trigger point. This means, unfortunately, that not even a therapist can be depended on to find your trigger points. Some things to look out for:
- Particularly sensitive spots in your muscle tissue.
- Muscles that feel weak, stiff or tight.
- Erratic symptoms that can appear ‘out of the blue’.
- A twitch in the affected muscle when you press on a tender spot.
- The presence of referred pain; you press on the sensitive spot and experience pain there and elsewhere.
Paul Ingraham has some good advice: ‘the best way to diagnose a trigger point is simply to kill it: if you treat a muscle as if there’s a trigger point in it, and if the symptoms go away, there’s your diagnosis.’
How can I deal with my trigger points myself?
Basic self-massage can be an effective way to relieve the symptoms associated with trigger points. Some rules of thumb:
- Get comfortable, relax, start slow. Less pressure applied more often is likely to be the best way to start.
- Don’t work through excessive pain. ‘Good pain’, however, is an indicator you are on the right track.
- Press on the trigger point and hold, or apply kneading pressure in short or circular strokes.
- Relief can be almost instantaneous, but don’t be fooled into thinking your problem is solved. Most likely your trigger point will be back.
- Be aware that small changes in position, angle, and amount of pressure can have disproportionate results.
- But, don’t get hung up on precision. Foam rolls and heat pads can be used to successfully target large areas.
- Don’t be disheartened if progress appears slow.Keep at it!
Take a look at our resources page for more ideas on how to tackle your trigger points.
Hands down the best trigger point tool I’ve ever used
Read Jennifer’s full review here.