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Causes and treatment of Trigger Points

Heather, LMT Jun 12, 2016

Why do we get trigger points, what are they you ask? A trigger point is a tight area within muscle tissue that causes pain in other parts of the body. A trigger point in the back, for example, may produce referral pain in the neck. The neck, now acting as a satellite trigger point, may then cause pain in the head. The pain may be sharp and intense or a dull ache. Trigger points lead to an increase in muscle stiffness, tenderness and a decrease in range-of-motion.

The inside of the body is covered with soft tissue called fascia. This tissue covers several biological structures including organs, muscles, nerves and blood vessels. The fascia that covers your muscles is called Myofascia. When the Myofascia is stressed from overuse or trauma it can tear and adhere together. While the physical load imposed on a muscle does play a role in trigger point formation, an equally important factor is the demand placed on the neuromuscular control mechanism of the muscle. This mechanism is responsible for taking the electrical impulse of a nerve and transforming it into a biochemical signal that both controls and powers muscular activity. 

Trigger point massage therapy is specifically designed to alleviate the source of the pain through cycles of isolated pressure and release. For trigger point therapy, the client actively participates through deep-breathing as well as identifying the exact location and intensity of the discomfort. From a patient's perspective trigger point therapy is a compression of the point of tenderness, which temporarily heightens the sensation already experienced due to additional pressure being applied to the area. The pressure must be held and maintained in order to obtain a release; in terms of sensation, it feels as though the practitioner holding the point is slowly releasing pressure, in actual fact the point is releasing/relaxing. This gives a sensation of relief as muscle function is improved and referred sensation is reduced.

Massaging an area with active trigger points can be painful but can also be done slowly and with less pain depending on each client. When massage and trigger point therapy is combined a therapist can release muscles far more effectively. Remedial massage greatly increases blood flow to muscles, while trigger point therapy releases regions within muscles with restricted blood flow, thus providing nutrients to depleted muscle fibers in a more effective way. Active trigger points create a local twitch response (often confused with a muscle spasm). If a trigger point is left active after massage it won’t be long before it becomes tight and sore again due this twitch response, as the muscle is over-engaging. Releasing trigger points allows for far greater release with slow/stretching massage, which increases range of movement and encourages capillary growth, resulting in healthier muscle fibers. Once you get your trigger points released I can almost certainly promise you will feel a great difference.  

At Elements we have therapists who really enjoy helping and healing your muscles. We want you to achieve your wellness and fitness goals. Please call our studio at 414.455.2714 to book an appointment with us today!

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