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Subject: A New Idea about the Wobblies Part 1
Detecting Trigger Points

The defining characteristic of a trigger point is moderately intense pain which occurs when pressure is applied directly to the affected portion of muscle, which cannot be explained by a recent injury. For trigger points that are actively causing symptoms this takes far less pressure than is required to cause pain or discomfort in an unaffected portion of muscle. The pressure must be applied accurately, as missing the trigger point by as little as a half inch may not provoke any pain. Normally the pain is perceived within the portion of muscle being pressed, but sometimes the pressure also elicits the remote symptoms that the trigger point is responsible for. When trigger points are first discovered, it is commonplace for their existence to be a surprise.

It is fairly easy to test yourself for trigger points in the sternocleidomastoid muscles. A search on Google will pull up diagrams to show you where to probe. To calibrate your fingers, press on or pinch a small muscle in your forearm hard enough to cause a bit of discomfort, but not actual pain. Use half that force on your neck muscles. Since trigger points are small, it’s best to stroke along about an inch of muscle at a time. If you hit an active trigger point, you will feel fairly significant pain. One thing to be careful of is applying pressure anywhere you can feel a pulse, as you don’t want to press hard on the carotid artery. Where the sternocleidomastoid muscle passes over the carotid, it’s better to tilt your head to relax the muscle and pinch it between your thumb and fingers. Or, it may be easier for you to pinch the muscle if you turn your head to the side to stretch the muscle and lift it off the underlying structures.

I was astonished to find a dozen or so trigger points in all sections of my sternocleidomastoid muscles. I also found trigger points in the trapezius muscles, which were implicated in causing dizziness in one report I found, as well as several trigger points in other muscles in the back and sides of my neck. (I had no neck pain of any sort at the time I found these exceptionally tender spots in my neck muscles.) Just once, when I pressed on a trigger point in the sternocleidomastoid for the first time I induced a mild form of my wobblies.

Subsequent reading led me to the speculation that these trigger points are the consequence of chronic misuse of my neck muscles as a result of lifelong improper posture. I treated all of them.
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