I discovered this while working on my own muscle knots, trying to tame an episode of low back pain, which is a never-ending job — they are always under control, more or less, but always threatening to come back, under the onslaught of chair work that I have saddled myself with by making a living as a writer.
This is what trigger points do, of course — they come back. It’s in their nature. And that’s why I’m always working on them, and always discovering new ways of doing it. It’s a creative challenge that never ends. It’s also why PainScience.com publishes a deliciously detailed tutorial about trigger points, which contains more detail about the bath trick, as well as hundreds of other basic and advanced tips and tricks.
The bath trick is a “together at last” trick: it came from combining two other classic tactics for releasing your own trigger points: the heat of a bath, with the pressure of a ball (see tennis ball massage). But the result is more than the sum of the parts, and it works better in some ways than anything else I’d come up with before. Suddenly I’m using the bath trick regularly myself, and recommending it to every other patient.
Many kinds of balls will work well, but a lacrosse ball or a KONG® brand rubber dog ball is perfect.
Play with the water level to increase or decrease your bouyancy and how firmly you are pressing down on the ball.
If you have severe, stubborn trigger points, the bath trick alone isn’t going to be enough. Try PainScience.com’s extremely detailed tutorial, Trigger Points & Myofascial Pain Syndrome It includes all of this information and many, many more troubleshooting tips, tricks and concepts for difficult cases. The bath trick is just one of dozens of ideas. In the tutorial, you will learn more about why the bath trick works so well, what kind of ball is especially ideal for the bath trick (there really is a particular sort of ball that definitely works best), which muscle groups benefit the most from the bath trick, plus many other clever ways to use your hands and tools to do more than just “take the edge off” your muscle pain. Buy it now ($19.95) or read the first few sections for free.
I am a science writer, former massage therapist, and I was the assistant editor at ScienceBasedMedicine.org for several years. I have had my share of injuries and pain challenges as a runner and ultimate player. My wife and I live in downtown Vancouver, Canada. See my full bio and qualifications, or my blog, Writerly. You might run into me on Facebook or Twitter.