Trigger Point Therapy

What Is Trigger Point Therapy?

Trigger point therapy is a remedial massage technique that focuses on relieving pain and improving movement by pressing on specific muscle tender points, known as trigger points. These points are tight areas within muscle tissue that can cause pain and restrict movement in other parts of the body, a phenomenon called referred pain. Trigger points often develop due to muscle overuse, stress, and injury.

Trigger point therapy is usually used with other remedial massage techniques (not usually as a stand alone technique).  When appropriate, I will apply targeted pressure to specific areas to release tension, reduce pain, and restore normal muscle function. This therapy is particularly effective for treating headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and lower back pain. It can also enhance mobility, reduce stress, and locally improve circulation (by causing temporary widening of blood vessels). Trigger point therapy can often provide long-lasting relief, especially where a trigger point is the cause of restrictions and pain.

How Does a Trigger Point Form?

Trigger points form when muscle fibres contract and fail to release (we think), creating tight, painful points that often feel like a pea or grain of rice (you might call this a muscle knot). This can happen due to several factors:

  • Muscle Overuse: Repetitive movements or prolonged activity can strain muscles, leading to trigger points.
  • Injury: Trauma from accidents, falls, or sports injuries can cause muscles to tighten and develop trigger points.
  • Stress: Physical and emotional stress can lead to muscle tension, increasing the likelihood of trigger points forming.
  • Poor Posture: Maintaining incorrect posture for extended periods can strain muscles and lead to the development of trigger points.
  • Lack of Activity: Prolonged inactivity or sedentary lifestyle can contribute to muscle tightness and trigger point formation.
Abstract image of a woman facing away showing muscle definition and tender points created by DALLE 2024-06-13

Does Trigger Point Therapy Hurt?

Trigger point therapy can sometimes be uncomfortable, but it should not be excessively painful. The level of discomfort experienced during the therapy often depends on the severity and sensitivity of the trigger points being treated. Here’s what to expect:

Temporary Discomfort – When the therapist applies pressure to a trigger point, you might feel a brief, intense sensation, often described as a “good pain.” This is a sign that the therapist has located the problematic area. The discomfort typically subsides as the therapist continues to work on the trigger point. Many clients report feeling significant relief and a decrease in muscle tension after the session. It is important to communicate with your therapist about your pain threshold. A skilled therapist, like David at Myomasters Massage, will adjust the pressure to ensure it is effective yet tolerable.

Over time, as trigger points are released and muscle tension decreases, subsequent sessions often become less uncomfortable. While there might be some temporary discomfort during the therapy, the long-term benefits, such as pain relief, improved mobility, and enhanced muscle function, make it worthwhile. Trigger point therapy aims to address the root cause of muscle pain, leading to lasting improvements in overall well-being.

Can I Do Trigger Point Therapy on Myself

You can use tools like a tennis ball or lacrosse ball  and lay on it release tender points.  Remember: harder isn’t better! The discomfort that you feel should feel satisfying even pleasurable, like scratching an itch. Self trigger point should not be unpleasant.

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