Unravelling the Mystery of Trigger Points in Massage Therapy

Trigger points in massage therapy: their nature, impact on the body, and their role in massage treatments for pain relief and improved muscular function.

Published: June 24th, 2023 | By: Tom Newby | Read Time: 3 mins


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tom newby

If you’ve been to MMC for a treatment with me or one of our sports therapists, you’ll recall the familiar feeling of satisfying muscular release, interwoven with intense moments of discomfort. We each have our own strategy for dealing with discomfort; some people choose to swear (no names!), others choose to focus on it with the serenity of a Buddhist monk, conscious that it will pass. Now, there’s some good news! In this article, I will explain to you exactly what those moments of intensity are and why they are indispensable to the process of remedial massage therapy by reducing your pain and immobility.

Have you ever experienced a stubborn, tender spot in your muscle that just won’t seem to let go? If so, you may have encountered a trigger point. Trigger points are fascinating and important elements in the world of massage therapy, playing a significant role in both the diagnosis and treatment of muscular issues.

So, what exactly are trigger points? Trigger points are highly irritable spots within taut bands of skeletal muscle fibres. These points are formed when muscle fibres contract and become locked together, creating a palpable knot or nodule. They are often sensitive to pressure and can cause referred pain in other areas of the body. For example, a trigger point in the upper back muscles can refer pain to the shoulder and even down the arm. This means that the discomfort you feel in your arm might actually be originating from a trigger point in your upper back. It’s intriguing how these points can create a complex network of pain and discomfort throughout the body.

Physiologically, trigger points are characterised by localised areas of ischemia (reduced blood flow) and the accumulation of metabolic waste products. These factors contribute to the hypersensitivity and persistent contraction of the muscle fibres. The tightness and tenderness associated with trigger points can limit range of motion, cause muscle stiffness, and even lead to postural imbalances.

During a massage treatment, MMC therapists identify and address trigger points using various techniques. By applying direct pressure or using specialised massage techniques, therapists aim to release the tension and discomfort associated with these points. The pressure applied to trigger points helps relax the contracted muscle fibres, increase blood circulation, and promote the elimination of waste products.

Trigger point therapy can provide numerous benefits. It can alleviate pain and discomfort, improve flexibility and range of motion, and enhance overall muscular function. By releasing tension and promoting relaxation, trigger point therapy contributes to the body’s overall well-being.

Understanding the physiology of trigger points and their role in massage therapy sheds light on the complexity of the human body and the effectiveness of targeted treatments. Next time you experience a persistent muscle knot, remember the intriguing world of trigger points and consider the benefits of incorporating trigger point therapy into your massage sessions.

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