Trigger Point Therapy
What Is Trigger Point Therapy
Trigger point therapy is a great way to release muscles that might be locked. It can help with tight shoulders, necks and back and also chronic pain.
It is a specific form of massage that presses on points that then attach to muscles, helping those muscles release.
It can be a little painful (or a lot!)
A trigger point is defined as a hyperirritable spot that’s found in a taut band of skeletal muscle. In simple terms, it’s a really tight area in your muscle tissue.
Trigger points are often referred to as muscle knots because of the way the muscle tissue almost balls itself together to create this tight point.
The problem with trigger points is that they commonly cause pain.
Have you ever felt a particularly tight spot in your back or neck that just won’t go away? It’s always there, and you can feel the soreness emanating from it? This is a muscle knot/trigger point, and the chances are your pain won’t subside until it’s been dealt with.
Trigger point therapy focuses on these sticky points. It is considered a deep tissue massage because a fair amount of pressure is required to get into muscle knots and break them up.
That’s the primary goal of this treatment; to free patients from pain caused by persistent knots and trigger points in their muscle tissues.
How Is Trigger Point Therapy Done?
Trigger point massage therapy can technically be performed by anyone.
There are even tools available – such as foam rollers and lacrosse balls – that allow you to attempt it at home.
However, the best results come when a qualfied therapist carries out the treatment.
Your treatment will begin with the therapist asking a series of questions to figure out where your trigger points are, the pain they’re causing, and when they seem to flare up most of all.
Unlike more general deep tissue massages, this stye of massage therapy is dependent on your input.
After asking you some questions, your therapist will will start the massage.
Here, they will move their hands around the muscle and ask you to indicate when they’ve landed on the trigger point.
Typically, they may press down on parts of the muscle tissue and ask if it feels tender or not. The more tender it feels, the worse the trigger point is.
When they’ve found your muscle knot, they begin to work on it. Different therapists may have different techniques.
The most common technique is to apply pressure to the trigger point. They do this using their hands, knuckles, elbows, or even a massage tool.
The pressure is applied to help relax the muscles around the trigger point, which should make the knot ‘melt’ away.
If a knot is particularly tight and troublesome, then massage tools with vibrations are sometimes used. Some studies show that the effect of vibrations on trigger points can lead to a decrease in the amount of muscle pain felt.
In most cases, this won’t be necessary, but the therapist is also likely to move parts of your body around to affect the muscle knot.
As an example, if you experience neck pain, then they may ask you to move your head or raise your arm up and down as they massage the point and keep applying pressure.
How Does It Work?
A trigger point massage involves applying pressure to the afflicted muscles and trying to get them to relax. But, how does all of this work?
Trigger points are tight knots of muscle tissue, which effectively means that the muscle is locked in a contracted – or shortened – position.
A good way to visualise this is by looking at an elastic band.
Usually, the band can be pulled and stretched with ease. But, tie a knot in the band and attempt to pull it.
You’ll find far more restriction as the knot causes it to be stuck in a more shortened position. When you have a trigger point in a muscle, this same thing happens.
Trigger point therapy works by trying to unlock the contraction mechanism of a muscle. In essence, we want to get the muscle working as it should, returning it to the natural position.
When pressure is applied to a muscle knot, it starts to relax and loosen up. Sometimes your therapist will ask you to breathe deeply which sometimes helps you to relax and allows the muscles to release quicker
By moving a muscle through different ranges of motion, this also helps it release.
For example, if you have a trigger point in your quadriceps (top of your upper thigh), the therapist will often apply pressure then help you bend and extend your leg at the knee.
This also helps to encourage more blood flow to the area, which allows the trigger points to melt away.