Trigger Point Massage

A trigger point is a tight area within a muscle tissue that causes local pain and referred pain to other parts of the body. Trigger points were originally mapped by Janet G. Travell, who was John F. Kennedy’s physician and provided the therapy for his ongoing back pain.

Trigger point massage therapy is one of the therapeutic massage techniques in which the therapist applies sustained pressure to trigger points of the body in order to relieve local or referred pain caused by activated trigger points in knotted muscles.

In trigger point massage therapy, the session can be highly interactive. The recipient actively participates in indentifying the responsible trigger point for the existing pain by providing consistent feedback of pain or discomfort experienced to the therapist.

Myofascial Trigger Points: Causes and Treatment

Trigger Point Explained

Trigger points are spots or areas of the body that are tender and tight. They are commonly referred to as muscle knots and can be isolated in a certain muscle group. Although the pain is often located in one muscle group, trigger points can lead to shooting pain in other parts of the body. For example, a trigger point in the upper back may lead to sharp pain in the neck.

Trigger point therapy involves applying direct and steady pressure to those areas. If you opt for trigger point therapy, the massage therapist will identify trigger points and use different techniques to apply various degrees of pressure to the painful areas. By applying direct pressure to the area, it increases blood flow, reduces muscle tension and alleviates pain. Trigger point therapy can be used to treat pain related to arthritis, injuries and everyday wear and tear on the muscles.

Depending on the severity of the muscle knots and tender areas, it may take more than one session to alleviate the problem. Although trigger point therapy is considered safe, direct pressure to a tender area can be uncomfortable.


Characteristics of Trigger Point Massage

Relaxation *

Therapeutic *****

Intensity: Strong to Very Strong

Lubrication: no

Undressing: Yes

Tip: Depends on facility

How to interpret the rating scale

Trigger point massage therapy is available at many processional massage clinics

Trigger point massage therapy is a form of treatment that is aimed at relieving pain, at the source, by utilizing sequences of targeted pressure and release.

The success of trigger point therapy depends on the participation of the recipient in conjunction with the involvement of the massage therapist. The deep breathing of the recipient is of great importance, as well as their ability to aid in the identification of the specific areas that are aggrieved and the intensity of the pain/discomfort.

‘Tense’ or rather constricted regions of your muscles are where trigger point massage therapy should be targeted. It focuses on releasing the tension that is built up in these areas in an effort to lessen and relieve any pain. It is not uncommon for recipients to notice a noticeably dramatic decrease in pain levels after just one trigger point massage therapy session. Also, it is worth noting that, regularly scheduled trigger point massage therapy sessions are an extremely effective method of managing the pain that can accompany chronic injuries.

What Are Trigger Points?

Trigger points, as they are so aptly named, are tight patches of muscle fibers that, when stimulated, have the ability to trigger a response of pain.

Why is this important? Well, a trigger point does not simply affect the area in which it is located, as you would think; it can also cause what is known as “referred/referral pain” in other parts of the body.

This means that, for instance, a specific trigger point that is located in your back can subsequently cause referred pain somewhere in your neck. Then your neck may also have an activated trigger point that can influence pain receptors in your head, subsequently giving you a mild or intense headache – all as a result of a trigger point in your back.

Your massage therapist should be skilled enough to not only locate these offending trigger points, he/she should also have the ability to utilize pressure as a means of deactivating them.

Why Choose Trigger Point Therapy?

While they may actually seem similar on the surface, traditional acupuncture and trigger point therapy have very little in common. Traditional acupuncture has its roots in traditional Chinese medicine and it deals with the flow of chi throughout the body and “chi pressure points”. On the other hand, trigger point therapy is aimed at treating pain at the source, from within the muscles themselves, and it has nothing to do with chi at all. It should be noted that the modern version of acupuncture, so called medical acupuncture or dry needling therapy utilizes the concept of trigger point.

When compared to other forms of massage therapy, trigger point therapy shows its usefulness with its ability to focus on very specific body parts. It is an exceptional method of not only managing pain but also treating it at the source.