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Everything You Need to Know About Trigger Point Massage Therapy



If you've ever experienced a twinge in your neck or a lower back spasm, it’s likely that a trigger point was involved. Trigger points can cause all sorts of different pain in the body. From mimicking headaches or a nerve pain that shoots down your leg.

Trigger points are often the cause of all sorts of strange pains in the body. Fortunately for us trigger points have been studied extensively by skilled body work pioneers such as Dr Janet G. Travell, MD, (1901 – 1997) who discovered the function of myofascial trigger points and identified them as a cause of musculoskeletal pain (Myofascial Pain Syndrome).


What are Trigger Points?

Commonly known as knots, tender points or adhesions. Trigger points are usually the most tender spot in an achy muscle. Sometimes you can even hear and feel them while massaging near them. According to Inverarity, L(2022) they often sound as if rocks are stuck in your muscle tissue or like a crunch when the massage therapist makes a deep stroke over them. You may be able to feel a trigger point in your own muscles. It may feel like a solid, rock-like marble inside of a muscle surrounded by more loose muscle tissue that is more pliable.Some theories say that trigger points are extremely taught muscle fibres that irritate small nerves. Others say that these tight muscle fibres cut off their own blood supply and that is why they become painful, says Inverarity, L(2022) much like a dead leg can be painful after you have sat on it wrongly for a long length of time , cutting off the blood supply temporarily. Whether we understand what they really are or not, an experienced massage therapists know that trigger points are real and they tend to be behind many extremely common patterns of pain that plague the human body.


What do Trigger Points Feel Like?

Most trigger points usually send or “refer” pain to distant areas of the body. This referral pain can sometimes feel like something else entirely, from nerve pain to headaches, trigger points can manifest in mysterious ways. These pain patterns are very well documented.

Sometimes, trigger points of the head feel like:

  • Pressure in your eye.

  • Pressure in your ear.

  • Headaches that move across your forehead

  • Headaches that cause pain in your teeth.

  • Some migraines can originate from trigger points.

Upper body trigger points commonly cause pain that feels like:

  • Pain shooting from the shoulder to the hand.

  • Nerve pain shooting down the arm.

  • A deep ache between the shoulder blades.

  • Stabbing pain between the shoulder blades.

  • Pain shooting from your shoulder up the side of your neck to the ear.

Lower body trigger points may feel like:

  • Pain shooting from your lower back to the front of your hip

  • Sciatica. Some trigger points can shoot from your glutes to your feet, mimicking sciatica pain.

  • Pain in the soles of your feet can mimic plantar fasciitis.

  • Pain shooting across your belt line on your lower back

  • Pain that goes up and down the lower part of your spine.

What is Trigger Point Therapy?

Trigger point therapy is the technique used to locate, identify and eliminate trigger points that cause pain. In short, it is the technical practice of getting the knots out and is one of the fundamental techniques used by a therapeutic massage therapist to help eliminate pain.

Once identified using trigger point charts, a massage therapist may use their elbows, finger tips or massage tools to apply pressure to a trigger point in a specific way that is designed to eliminate it and the pain associated with it.

Applying pressure to these areas in a strategic way is the basis of most trigger point therapy protocols.


The Benefits of Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger point therapy has many benefits. Many people experience a decrease in pain and an increase in range of motion. Deep tissue massages often include a bit of trigger point therapy. If during your last deep tissue massage, your therapist applied pressure to a very specific point to release it, this was likely a form of trigger point therapy.

When a trigger point gets released, you may feel a

  • Rush of relief in the area

  • A serious reduction in pain

  • Pain in a distant area of the body reduced

What to expect during a Trigger Point Therapy Massage

Before having a massage always seek medical advice from your General practitioner .

During consultation ,your therapist identifies and locates your problematic trigger points. While having a massage you can expect a gentle to firm pressure applied to the trigger point by the therapist. Most massage therapists will apply pressure for 8 to 10 seconds and then give the area a break for a few seconds then they will repeat this process until the pain levels decrease.

This usually means that sufficient blood flow has been restored to the area and the massage therapy treatment is heading in the right direction.

If you have scar tissue or muscle pain this type of massage could be beneficial for you.


Finding a Trigger Point Therapist

If you think you need trigger point therapy .

Contact Jenny @Surrealholistictherapy.com / 07758754317 to discuss more about the pain you’re experiencing. We are here to help you resolve your pain in any way that you can!


Reference

What Are Trigger Points and How Can MT Help? Inverarity, L(2022) cited in

Everything You Need to Know About Trigger Point Therapy Massage. Tobin, C( 2020 )

What Is Myofascial Pain Syndrome? Corinne O'Keefe Osborne,(2018) cited in https://www.healthline.com/health/myofascial-pain#treatment Accessed (06.01.2023)

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