Trigger Point Therapy

by Rory Coughlan

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.

General Guidelines

1. Roll on the foam roller/ball until you feel a “trigger point” or “hot spot.” You’ll know you found one when it hurts.

2. Avoid applying pressure on bones and joints. Just muscle.

3. Combine an abbreviated SMR with your regular warm-up on workout days.

4. Drink plenty of water after an intense SMR session.

Muscles just hurt sometimes. Trigger points can cause pain directly. Trigger points are a “natural” part of muscle tissue. Sooner or later almost everyone gets muscle knots and you get pain with no other explanation or issue.

De-stress your muscle

1. Rub it out. Massage the trigger point and try to loosen up those taut muscle fibers.

2. Soothe the hurt. Anti-inflammatories can help wipe out muscle pain.

3. Find the root. Try to identify what’s “stressing out” your muscle.

4. Get moving.

Knots are actually hyperirritable spots in muscle or fascial tissue (bands or sheets of connective tissue) known as myofascial trigger points. Knots are comprised of tense muscle fibers. The “nodule” is the actual trigger point. The “taut band” is your very tight muscle. Trigger points will often feel like a knot, or a lump that can range in size from about the size of a pin “head” to about the size of a pea. In larger muscles, they may be about the size of your fingernail.

Non-drug treatments may include:

1. Physical therapy.

2. “Stretch and spray” technique: This treatment involves spraying the muscle and trigger point with a coolant and then slowly stretching the muscle.

3. Massage therapy.

4. Trigger point injection.


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