9 Steps to Use a Trigger Point Massage Cane Like a Pro
A trigger point massage cane can be quite effective in alleviating pain from muscle or joint injuries, and even in addressing chronic back pain, neck pain, headaches, and other issues that may seem to have no discernible source of discomfort. Learning how to use the cane properly can be somewhat of a challenge, however, particularly if you are unfamiliar with the anatomy of the muscles on which it should be used. Follow these nine steps to use your trigger point massage cane like a pro!
Step 1: Choosing the Right Massage Cane
Your first step when learning how to use a trigger point massage cane is choosing one that feels comfortable in your hand. A heavy or flimsy cane will tire you out and make it hard for you get work done. The ideal size and weight can vary from person to person, but in general should be lightweight and have an easy-to-grip handle. You’ll also want something with rounded, padded ends—which are gentler on your skin than straight tips. If possible, try out several different brands before buying one. Some people who use them regularly swear by Compex brand massage canes, which are more expensive but known for their high quality design.
Step 2: Prepping for Treatment
Now that you’ve got your trigger point massage cane, it’s time to prep for treatment. For most people, it is best to use when you first wake up in the morning. This way if there are areas of your body that are sore or stiff, you can treat them and then relax knowing you won’t be in pain during your day. By using a different spot on your body each day, you will ensure all parts of your body are getting attention so over time you don’t have knots or tightness showing up in any one area again.
Step 3: Locate Target Muscles
Before you can use your massage cane, you need to know where to put it. Always begin by finding out which muscle or muscles are causing pain; most often, these are located in your neck and upper back. Place your hand on one of these muscles and gently push until you feel tension. Mark that spot on your body with an X for future reference. Now move about one inch away from that spot, place your cane there and push until you feel tension again – that’s another source of pain for you. Continue moving about three inches at a time until all sources of pain have been accounted for. When finished, make sure to mark each location with an X on either side of your body so you know where not to place pressure later on when actually using the cane.
Step 4: Roll Out the Knots
Once you’ve found one or more tender points, use your cane to work on them. You can use simple circular strokes (like those used in normal massage) to ease out knots in muscles. However, since you’re using quite a bit of pressure here and it’s difficult for your hands to stay exactly still, I recommend doing these strokes quickly (and perhaps even slightly sloppily). The goal is just to get rid of that knot; whether it comes out in an aesthetically pleasing way doesn’t matter much! Keep applying pressure until you feel like you’ve gotten all of it—it’ll likely take several seconds if not longer. Avoid using back and forth motions as those tend to irritate rather than soothe sore spots.
Step 5: Cool Down
After stretching, it’s important to cool down your muscles. Stretching and massaging releases lactic acid that builds up in our muscles, which is why we feel sore after exercise. That feeling of tightness you feel post-workout is from blood vessels constricting back up again. If you don’t stretch and cool down properly, your muscles will stay tight for longer. So doing some gentle stretches at night not only helps you relax but can also help reduce morning muscle pain. If all of that seems like too much effort, try alternating hot and cold showers or jumping into an ice bath for 1 minute then following with 15 minutes in warm water—this combo should do wonders!
Step 6: Additional Tools
Sometimes, your fingers just aren’t enough. That’s why many massage therapists also have trigger point tools at their disposal—like foam rollers and high-quality canes (not pool noodles). There are plenty of different brands and styles of canes out there, but they all do basically the same thing: firmly apply pressure to trigger points. Because they’re not as flexible as our fingers or knuckles, they can dig into muscle tissue more deeply and often find knots that our fingers might miss. Additionally, you needn’t worry about things like speed or movement variation with your cane (unless you want), because it doesn’t bend! #4 & #5 are so much easier with a solid tool on hand.
Step 7: Move Around the Body
As with any massage, you want to make sure you’re hitting all of your client’s problem areas. This can be hard when working on someone with especially large muscles or if their pain is located in hard-to-reach areas, but there are ways around it. If your client has an injury on one side of their body, they can try lying on that side while you work out the kinks on their other side. And if they have trouble moving into certain positions, your job as a professional masseuse is to help them get there safely and comfortably—whether that means getting them comfortable enough so they can move themselves or physically moving them yourself. Do what works best for both of you!
Step 8: Start at Your Bottom Edge
After you’ve made your first pass, it’s time to move on. Start at your bottom edge and work towards your top edge again. This ensures that all of your hard work will pay off when those knots start to release. If you want to uplevel, cross-fiber rub over what you’ve done before by pressing into an area with one hand and pressing away from it with another. Take a deep breath and let out as much tension as possible while you’re at it! Remember: we like sweat! And if you’re not sweating, well then how can we expect those knots to release? So don’t be shy – let’s get sweaty together! (Bonus points for stepping in front of that fan.)
One of the primary benefits of having a cane is mobility, so if you’re struggling with mobility issues, you might be tempted to purchase an ergonomic cane. These have handles that are wider and thicker than traditional canes, and they often come with other features that may help improve your balance as well. For example, some ergonomic canes feature anti-slip grips or padded hand grips to reduce arm and wrist fatigue while you’re walking. If your medical conditions make it difficult for you to walk even short distances without significant pain, however, buying an ergonomic cane might not be right for you; some patients experience muscle strain in their wrists or elbows when using one.