This is my area of expertise as a fitness professional.
I’m surprised I haven’t already addressed this important topic. I have specialized in managing chronic and acute pain with my clients for several years now after battling my own debilitating back condition that started when I was 18. Even though my condition (Called spondylolicthesis) is a product of spinal misplacement that is irreversible, it’s the impact on the surrounding muscles that causes pain.
When your body is out of balance, (news flash: pretty much EVERYone is out of balance in some way!) compensatory movements and patterns will take place. For example, if you carry a heavy bag over one shoulder, that shoulder will not only be weighed down by that bag causing a tilt that happens at the level of the spine, but the upper trap muscle which elevates the shoulder will become extremely tense trying to fight against the gravity of your bag. If you do this every day several times a day, you will have pain.
Another example is a mattress gone bad. If you have lost support from the one place you most definitely spend 6 to 9 hours in a day, the lack of proper alignment will shift your body in all the wrong ways. Your hips, which are denser than your feet, for instance, will start dipping lower into the mattress. If you are a side sleeper, this will mean much displacement throughout the body.
Trigger points are what happen in the soft tissue of your muscle and connective tissue as a protective mechanism. A muscle has become tense and weak, and this little “knot” of tissue will theoretically prevent further soft tissue damage. The problem is, they cause discomfort, and often, it is hard to put your finger (pun intended) on where that pain really is. Oftentimes we have what we think is back pain, but the trigger point is really emanating from the outer hip muscles.
If you have constant muscular pain and have been popping advil as a means of pain management, consider that you probably need a series of really skillful massages, and then an evaluation of your movement patterns by a skilled kinesiologist, personal trainer, or physical therapists. So many of us are in pain and simply accept it as part of life. You don’t have to! Here’s an intro. You certainly can start managing your pain with foam rollers and tennis balls. It will hurt, but you will feel like a million bucks after!