#1 Trigger Point Therapy
Directions: Trigger point therapy is stretching for muscle adhesion’s, knots, or micro-trauma at the tissues. The mechanical pressure and stretching of the tissue mobilizes muscle adhesion’s for the removal by the circulatory system. Knots are inflexible areas of muscle caused by a combination of factors, such as lack of oxygen and nutrients (calcium and protein) to the specific area and scar tissue buildup from micro-trauma associated with heavy-loads or repetitive, overuse-type work. If untreated, the cumulative effect of consistent micro-trauma can result in muscle strain. Treating knots requires 5 to 10 sessions of deep, cross-friction message lasting 5-10 minutes.
The systematic manipulation of soft body tissues assists in removing toxic by-products of energy metabolism and residual fluid buildup resulting from structural damage of muscle tissue(waste by products). By squeezing the muscle bellies with simple mechanical pressure blood circulation is increased helping empty the veins in the direction of the applied pressure. This results in an increased availability of fresh blood to the messaged area, making possible greater interchange of substances between capillaries and tissue cells. Lymphatic circulation – lymphatic circulation assists venous circulation sites in returning fluids from the tissues. Trigger point therapy specific sites of the body is the most effective external means of moving excess vascular fluid into the lymph vessels, then into the circulatory system. We describe this as a clearing out.
Benefits: Trigger point therapy can brighten your mood; reduce tension, anger, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and confusion.
#2 Heat Therapy
Benefits: Heat therapy such as saunas, steam rooms, showers, hot packs and baths are great to facilitate recovery! Heat therapy stimulates the release of growth hormone, improves sleep, normalized metabolic processes, aids in excretion of toxins (cadmium, lead, zinc, nickel, sodium, sulfic acid, and cholesterol) through the sweat glands. By removing these toxins from the body, fatigue is relieved leading to CNS regeneration. Heat also warms the central nervous system, easing nervous transmission within the muscle and facilitating more efficient communication between the muscle and the brain. Warming-up increases the activity and force production of muscles. Heat therapy has a positive effect on muscles before a workout.
Directions: Direct heat or hot showers or baths for 8-10 minutes relaxes the muscles and improves local and general blood circulation. Usually 5 to 20 minutes is sufficient starting with the extremities, then the core. The total time using heat can vary from 15 to 20 minutes, in intervals of 5 minutes, interspersed with 1- to 2-minute cold showers.
Warning: Do not use heat therapy immediately after a workout or injury. Use heat for injuries 3 or 4 days after by which time the swelling will have subsided. Use cold therapy with in the first 3 days of an injury. Wait 6 to 8 hours to use heat to recover from a workout. Do not use heat therapy immediately following a workout. Heat therapy after a workout can cause catabolism (muscle breakdown) in muscle tissue!
#3 Cold Therapy
Benefits: Reduces pain without the use of drugs due to its effect on nerve fiber conduction responding to pain, increases blood flow, raises the level of oxygen, increases metabolism, and significantly reduces muscle spasms.
Directions: Apply cold therapy immediately following training and no longer than 2 hours after for 25 to 20 minutes, depending on the desired tissue depth. In case of micro-trauma, use contrast baths to facilitate a capillary response. The initial exposure should be cold, then you can use contrast baths for 1-2 hours after the initial cold treatment. The best areas for cold therapy are those requiring the longest time to regenerate, such as weak muscles, muscles with predominantly fast-twitch (FT) fibers, and tendinous units. Ice massages using cups, cold packs, a bag with crushed ice contoured around the injured limb, and cold whirlpools. One to two minute cold showers after a workout can significantly reduce the time it takes you to regenerate after a workout!
#4 Contrast Baths
Benefits: Contrast baths are effective in treating localized muscle spasm and relief from aches and pains. Contrast baths induce a pumping action within the muscle which clear the muscle from waste by products of the muscle.
Directions: Contrast baths are best suited for the sub-acute phase of an injury. It is not the treatment of choice by many therapists during the acute phase of an injury because of the heat, despite it being coupled with cold. The treatment should last 20-30 minutes, with the longer the treatment resulting in a better conclusion. Temperatures between 50°-60° F for the cold phase and 95-110 for the hot phase of the contrast bath are recommended for best results. The longer the treatment the better, the recommended ratio of the two modalities: heat three to four times longer than cold. It is also recommended that the treatment begin and end with cold, especially after a workout.