Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Trigger Point Success! - Kevin Dye

Mid-year I suffered a debilitating injury, indirectly associated with weight training.It resulted from repeatedly hoisting a heavy bar on and off my bench from laziness of removing the plates from the bar. With time I left more and more weight loaded, which I would upright row from the floor to the bench uprights every workout. I was angry with myself, as it was something that could have been easily avoided had I just been more careful and taken the effort to remove a couple more plates from the bar. But I hadn't and now I was paying the price.
The pain was a sharp, shooting strike, in my right elbow, near the bottom of the triceps tendon, in the groove of the forearm muscle. It became so painful that simple tasks such as straightening my arm were excruciating, and simple tasks such as driving and turning door handles, even sleeping, caused immense pain. It was unlike any pain that i have ever felt, as it involved almost every action I did with my right arm, even small lifting, twisting actions like washing up dishes caused so much discomfort that I'd avoid using my arm at all whenever possible.

Initially I tried to ignore in, in the hope that like other injuries in the past (though not as severe) it would take care of itself. But a couple of months passed and it became obvious that it wasn't going to just "go away," so I went looking for ways to heal it myself. I considered visiting my doctor but I knew he'd give me the standard advice of resting my arm, and while this might be sound advice (on occasions), it is the last thing a hardcore trainee wants to hear. 

That left avoiding movements that caused me pain, and finding ways to train around the injury. Being an elbow issue made it extremely hard, but I did my best to keep training without causing any more pain than necessary, and hopefully without getting any worse. So the first exercise I had to modify was Seated BB Presses. I noticed that the bottom stretched position caused a shooting pain through the area, so I shortened it to chin height in a power rack, which immediately stopped all discomfort. That still left the pain curls caused me to contend with, so like the presses I chose to shorten the distance and avoid the stretch so I settled on Seated BB Curls, which again eliminated all elbow pain.

While these short-term adjustments helped, they didn't directly contribute to healing my elbow, so I was left with the same dilemma; I just became wiser about ways to keep training. In search for a solution to fix my elbows instead of just avoiding pain. I read about "leg only" training in John McCallum's 'Keys to Progress'. ["Leg Specialization for Bulk" -  link below: 

After a couple of weeks of heavily debating whether I should, and could, drop all upper body work I finally decided it was the action I required to allow my elbow the time it needed to repair itself. 

The first couple of weeks of squatting and calf raising my elbow seemed to ease up, but by the third  week it was worse than ever, so my experiment wasn't working. That left me a little bewildered, as I had dropped all upper body work, and that wasn't helping so I didn't know what direction I had left. Deep in my subconscious I feared that I'd have to undergo an operation; the pain had come back with a vengeance and I was open to anything that would stop it once and for all. 

That is when I decided to discuss it with Stuart McRobert . . . 

I was aware of of the success he had had with trigger point therapy with his numerous injuries, but wasn't so sure it was applicable in my case. I felt my injury was different, as it seemed to be a strained tendon, where Stuart's were the result of years of abuse, so his seemed to have no similarity to mine. I was a little taken aback when he suggested trigger point therapy, but with nothing to lose I didn't hesitate starting it straight away.

At that point I would have done anything to help my cause so what did I have to lose applying thumb pressure into the painful area a couple of times a day? I must admit that I couldn't help feeling skeptical that something so simple and brief would do anything to help me, but I kept with it and quickly found the pain eased. What would a simple procedure such as thumb pressure for a total of 15 seconds (3 x 5-second holds" do to repair an obviously very damaged tendon? 

It only took a handful of sessions before I noticed the pain wasn't as severe, and I was delighted that I could straighten my arm for the first time (pain free) in months! I could perform daily tasks pain free, so I knew it was only a matter of time before my weight training could resume void of discomfort. To be on the safe side I didn't risk going back to the exercises and range of motion that caused my problems earlier, but kept with my therapy content to remain with it till I was completely pain free. I even found a trigger point on my rear shoulder while playing with my son, which I promptly fixed with one session of trigger point therapy.

Two months later I barely have the slightest pain, and so use trigger point therapy every other day as I feel I need it. Having always used perfect form, I still train as now I'm not doing any harm. And finally, "Yes," I leave only a couple of plates on the bar while lifting it on or off the bench uprights. So while neither Stuart or I are doctors, if you have any pains I would strongly suggest you try trigger point therapy, as it's completely changed my outlook on what pressure points can do, and maybe you can benefit from the same finding? 

Enjoy Your Lifting! 


  1. Great read, well done on the content I will be revisiting.
    Haven Painrelief

    1. That is one great name for a chiropractic clinic!


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