The publication of the first edition of The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook in 2001 sparked a surge of self-massage tools for, and books and websites about, trigger point therapy. The word was out: You don’t have to just accept living with pain. It’s not inevitable. It’s not just arthritis. You’re not just getting old. It’s muscle pain.
People everywhere are hurting and frustrated with the current options for treating muscle pain. All over the world, folks are interested in an inexpensive, effective treatment that they can control. That explains why this book has been popular—so popular, in fact, that it has been translated into over a dozen languages. This therapy works. This book presents an easy-to-use, inexpensive, self-treatment approach that you can use anytime, anywhere to fix your own pain. Relief can be yours without pills, bills, or appointments.
This book presents an easy-to-use inexpensive, self-treatment approach that you can use anytime, anywhere to fix your own pain.
When my father, Clair Davies, set out to write The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, he had a simple goal, to bring the work of Janet Travell, MD, and David Simons, MD, to regular people just like him. He did not do the research on referred pain patterns or trigger point locations—Travell, Simons, and many others did that. Clair Davies was simply a megaphone. I am continuing that outreach with this newly revised third edition.
If you have read the first or second editions, you will be familiar with my father’s story and a little bit of mine. We both suffered from chronic pain. He had a frozen shoulder and I had a “bad back.” Together we developed many of the self-treatment ideas detailed in these pages. Dad was the primary author and illustrator, accompanied by me as his assistant, apprentice, first editor, photographer, and sounding board. Dad was a true do-it-yourselfer and lone wolf. All of the drawings in the first two editions were done by him. He redrew the entire series of illustrations three times because his skills improved so much through the process. The only reason I have the opportunity to do the third edition myself is that he has gone on to bigger and better things. Dad’s life journey ended way too soon on December 29, 2006, at age 69, after a battle with colon cancer. My family’s grief is tempered somewhat by the profound effect his books have had on the lives of other people. Nothing feels better than knowing our efforts have helped others. I am proud to continue my father’s work exploring myofascial pain and spreading the word about trigger points. I hope I can do his work justice.
This third edition contains many changes. Previously, the first-person perspective was my father’s. I’ve changed that now to my own, except in chapter 12, Muscle Tension and Chronic Pain. The original first chapter and introduction have been combined and his story abridged. However, we have preserved Dad’s original narrative on our website (www.TriggerPointBook.com), if you are interested in reading his story in his own words.
This edition presents many improvements that have developed over the past nine years. More emphasis has been placed on helping you to figure out which trigger points to treat. The treatment sections are more detailed and treatment tips are sprinkled throughout to help you find the points. Numerous resources illustrate trigger points, but this is the only one that tells you how to find these sneaky little knots. Not every bump and lump is a trigger point. Several existing drawings have been improved to help you locate trigger points. Dozens of drawings have been added to illustrate various self-treatment options. Many of the new self-treatment ideas originated with my own massage clients and other trigger point self-treatment enthusiasts. From other publications, I have gathered “golden nuggets” to share with you, notably how to self-treat a minor muscle strain with massage. For the most part, you don’t need expensive tools and devices. In this book, I tell you about the ones I think are worth your money, and I also tell you when an inexpensive tool like the tennis or rubber ball will do just fine.
The research into the science and treatment of myofascial trigger points also continues to develop. To date, Travell and Simons’s Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manuals still serve as the primary resource in the medical and manual therapy fields. Most, if not all, published works base their ideas on that foundation, as we have here. Having said that, Travell and Simons do not have the final word on myofascial pain, as there are many skeletal muscles yet to be documented with trigger points. I feel it is important to acknowledge that there are many researchers fundamental to the current understanding of myofascial trigger points. I cite some of them in the References section of this book. Medical journals continue to regularly publish new research studies on trigger points and muscle pain. Dozens of professional trigger point therapy courses now exist for physical, massage, and myofascial trigger point therapists. Massage schools are becoming more proficient in teaching advanced therapy techniques, such as trigger point therapy, neuromuscular therapy, medical massage, structural integration, orthopedic massage therapy, and other outcome-based massage modalities.
As a long time user of self-applied trigger point massage, I can attest that there is no one right way to do the massage. The goal is to find the easy way—the way that is most effective without causing further problems. For some people, stretching is useful right away; for others, like my father, stretching too soon makes the pain worse. Many authors and instructors debate various ideas and methods. Reducing pain so full movement can be restored is the common thread among all treatment approaches. The thing to do, as Travell indicated, is to get in there and do something directly to the trigger point. You can do that for yourself. It is possible for you to massage every muscle a therapist can massage on you. Granted it is not the same relaxing experience, but if you get good at this technique, you just may find it even more satisfying for pain relief. I think self-treatment is a life skill. So did Dr. Simons. At age 81, he said, “The better you are able to self-treat your own trigger points, the more functional and pleasant your life will be.”
“The better you are able to self-treat your own trigger points, the more functional and pleasant your life will be.”
I hope your results will be as profound as ours.
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