We worked on seven different partners for that workshop and all of them were experienced massage therapists. They were used to doing ‘Deep Tissue Massage,’ where they used their elbows or a lot of thumb pressure to work out Trigger Points. Amber’s method was much less heavy handed than they were used to, and it relied on rolling lightly many times over a trigger point, rather than one heavy shot that left their client’s bruised for three days.
That was the method I’d been taught in massage school three weeks before, and all of us had decided we weren’t using it because it was just too painful. I’m positive I would never have become a Trigger Point Therapist if I had not found this Trigger Point book on my own. Sitting here writing this three years later, I’m equally positive that I would have had permanently crippled thumbs within two years, and disabling back and hip pain within three, if I hadn’t known how to treat it myself. Massage Therapy is wonderful for getting rid of tightness and making people feel SO good, but even then, as a student, I’d figured out it won‘t get rid of the source of muscle pain.
Okay, back to the workshop. Fortunately, the motel I was staying at had a hot tub, and I’d brought lots of Tylenol, because most of my partners didn’t have the sensitivity I needed and I spent most of that day telling people to lay off a little.
Conversely, at least two of my partners needed tremendous pressure, and Amber taught me how to properly use my tools and protect my shoulders and wrists from long term damage by using my body weight to apply pressure rather than using my muscles. In some places, I needed to use my elbow in order to get enough pressure, but only after I’d ruled out the gentler method first. Some people liked to use their thumbs almost exclusively, and she taught them to always put one thumb on top of the other to apply pressure. Otherwise, it’s real easy to blow both thumbs out.
She told us that people will assume that because you’re the therapist, you must know how much pressure they need, so they won’t say anything when you’re hurting them. It’s the exact same thing our massage instructor had said; people will put up with all sorts of discomfort because they’ve been told it’s the only way to get rid of their muscle pain. Men don’t want to admit that you’re hurting them, but women don’t want to hurt your feelings by implying that you don’t know how much pressure to use.
So, once you find the trigger point, you want to keep asking them if you’re on the right spot, and if you’re still on that pain scale of a 4 or 5; what Amber called, “A Good Hurt.” When she said that, naturally the whole class started singing, “Hurt so good, come on Baby, make it hurt so good…”
There Are Two More After This One