As many truck drivers can attest, siting in one position for long stretches often causes tight muscles, particularly in the neck.
If certain locations in your neck are especially tight and agonizing, and you can literally put your finger on the spot where the pain originates, you may have a trigger point.
A trigger point is a tight, dense knot of muscle fiber that won’t relax or let go and usually feels like a knotted rope. According to experts, trigger points are predominantly located in the trapezius muscle, which stretches from the base of your skull, down to the middle of your back and over your shoulder.
It’s possible to have multiple trigger points in one muscle, even as close together as a few inches apart. Here are some quick techniques that can be done at home or on the road to help de-stress those tight knots:
Rub it out – Although it will probably hurt when pressed, apply deep pressure at the center of the trigger point and massage with short, slow strokes in one direction. Don’t forget to breathe. It WILL help loosen up those tight muscles!
Soothe the hurt – Use heat or an ice pack depending on what you think will help. Either temperature variation is recommended by experts.
Get moving – Aerobic exercise is very effective in combating trigger points, doctors say. When you get a break at a truck stop, why not do some jumping jacks or any other movement in your shoulders and neck. Slow stretching the muscle in the opposite direction of the tightness will also help.
Try a foam roller – Lie down lengthwise on a full length, 6-inch diameter foam roller. Slowly roll sideways keeping the torso parallel to the ground until the foam roller gets the trigger points. Do 20 minutes each side.
Try a racquetball – While leaning with the upper back against a wall, place the racquetball between the tender muscles and the wall. Use your legs to move the body, rolling the ball up and down over the sore muscles for about 2 minutes.
If your trigger point is really bad and you want more of a systematic approach, this video shows you how to safely loosen a stiff neck using a therapy ball to press into the trigger point, thus releasing the tension and increasing range of motion:
If you’re interested in a clinical explanation of the location and workings of the different scapulae muscles and how they contribute to a stiff neck, this video gives a wonderfully detailed run down.