This article is about pain. Trust me, I have had my fair share of it.
I’ve bulged discs, broken bones, torn tendons off the bone, and had more muscle and joint tweaks than I even want to remember. I’ve read dozens of books about pain management, often in desperation. I’ve popped all kinds of over the counter medications for relief, but those days are over. Now, I never take ibuprofen, tylenol, or any other NSAID for pain management. The risks are becoming more clear as new research is being done on the long term effects of these and other pain relieving drugs. But you will likely never see or hear about any of this research because there is a multi-billion dollar industry that would really prefer that you stay in the dark. My job is to get you out of the dark.
If you want to stop using NSAIDS, then it’s time to educate yourself.
Pain sucks. It’s depressing and often overwhelming. It stops us from training, having fun, and even working. We aren’t all physical therapists. We often don’t know where to start with assessing our own problems. We need a roadmap. I’ve been searching for such a roadmap for many years. Of all the books I have read on this subject, there are two that tower above all others. Read on for the reasons I keep both of these books by my bedside table.
Trigger Points: the little bastards inside your muscles.
When I wake up with a pain in the neck (or the butt for that matter), I open this book: The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, by Mr. Clair Davies. Usually within about 5 minutes, I have found a trigger point that’s causing the problem. Earlier pioneers in trigger point research, Medical Doctors Travell and Simons, (here’s their book) define a trigger point as “a highly irritable localized spot of exquisite tenderness in a nodule in the palpable taut band of muscle tissue.” What most people don’t realize is that these little nodules wreak havoc on our bodies, sending mixed signals to the surrounding muscle tissue and causing tremendous dysfunction. A true master of his craft, Davies provides detailed instruction in releasing trigger points by self massage. He died in 2006, before I got a chance to thank him for changing my life.
Why you should learn to treat yourself for pain
Not sure if you have trigger points? If you don’t regularly see a highly skilled massage therapist, rest assured you have a body full of them. Even the best massage therapist could never release all of your trigger points in one session, another reason it behooves you to learn to fix your own problems. Oh, and by the way, regular medical doctors don’t like talking about trigger points because they really can’t be resolved with any type of medical procedure or prescription drug. Don’t get me wrong, trigger points create plenty of revenue for the medical industry. Doctors prefer to use terms like “chronic pain”, “overuse injury”, “cartilage damage”, “arthritis”, and “fibromyalgia”. Doctors love to treat the symptoms of trigger points because patients will keep coming back for more billable office visits. Big medicine wins.
Book 2: Meet Dr. Kelly Starrett
The second of my top two books is Becoming A Supple Leopard, by Kelly Starrett. Here’s a youtube trailer for the book:
Starrett’s approach to dealing with muscle and joint problems is twofold. First he breaks down movement patterns into archetypes that are easy to understand. This allows the reader to understand how to make corrections to the poor body mechanics that cause pain. Second, Starrett prescribes some eye watering self massage techniques as well as some complex stretches that are actually horribly painful when done correctly. I’m not going to lie. This shit hurts. It hurts like a mofo. BUT it’s the closest thing to magic I have found for fixing my own body.
A natural alternative to NSAIDS
Instead of popping an ibuprofen next time you hurt, try this instead. Meriva by Thorne. In numerous human based trials, this product has been shown to produce the same anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects. Study, Study, Study
I take 2 of these capsules per day as a standard practice. I train 6 to 7 days a week at high intensity and I sustain injuries often in my tumbling and gymnastics practice. I feel that this product is an important part of my pain management plan. I endorse it with the same vigor with which I despise NSAIDS.
You have a choice
Fixing your own trigger points and mobility problems is not fun. It hurts like a son of a bitch and it’s time consuming. Most Americans say they are too busy for self massage or stretching. Our culture values the medical and pharmaceutical industry over self care. It’s easy to pop a few cheap ibuprofen and forget about the pain for a few hours so we can get back to watching TV.
Don’t believe the commercials. Big Pharma spends millions of dollars to convince you that you need drugs to feel good. Maybe it’s time to consider taking your painful matters into your own hands.
Do you have pain right now? Read on.