The abdominal muscles cover the front and side of the stomach region. They consist of;
- Rectus Abdominus: which runs directly down the middle of the stomach or your “6 pack”.
- External Obliques: the muscles running diagonally from the ribs, down towards the pubis.
- Internal Oblique: run in the opposite direction to the external obliques and lays underneath them, and is not visible in the first layer of muscle.
The abs are the body's stabiliser. They help to maintain posture, aid in breathing and also help the heart pump blood up from the lower body. They also exert a lot of pressure under childbirth, vomiting and going to the toilet.
Trigger points in these areas don’t just refer pain to the muscles around it, but also to the internal organs of the body.
Pain from trigger points in the abdominals can be internal and external. Often gone misinterpreted as something worse.
Heartburn, acid reflux, gall stones, stomach cancer and heart disease are all common misdiagnosis for trigger points within the abdomen. It can also cause nausea and vomiting, which makes it so hard to distinguish between a more serious illness and just a trigger point, as you cannot tell if there is an active trigger point until it has been deactivated.
Trigger points in the mid section of the abdomen can cause excess gas, bloating and stomach cramps and when there is a trigger point located on the right side of the abdomen, it can convincingly imitate appendicitis.
Lower abdomen trigger points can cause hard to control and painful urination.
In women, untreated trigger points can be a cause for severe menstrual cramps and uterus pain.
Overexerting yourself, be it at work or exercising, can cause trigger points to form.
Sit-ups, constant turning of the body, sitting too much and even chronic coughing can cause abdominal trigger points.
The key to preventing further problems and pain is to treat the problems and symptoms you currently have, and not ignore them as something unimportant, as they will get worse.
The upper, middle and lower sections of the abdominals need to be treated.
For the upper area, search around the ribs and apply deep pressure with both hands. You can do this while sitting, standing or laying down.
The easiest way to treat the lower abdominals is to lay down, as they are located below the hips. By supporting your hand and pushing the lower muscles in a downwards direction towards the pubis bone, you are giving some release to any trigger points in the area.
In women, doing this exercise between menstrual cycles can help relieve cramps.
The middle abdominals can easily be access and treated by a kneading like motion with both hands up and down the stomach.
It is important to note that you should not ignore stomach pain as just trigger points, once you have ruled out internal illnesses by a medical professional, self treatment of trigger points can begin.