Trigger points are tiny contraction knots found in the connective tissue that surrounds the muscle (the myofascia). These can be acutely painful in themselves and typically cause referred pain in another part of the body.
Apart from pain, trigger points can bring on numbness, tingling, hypersensitivity and a sense of burning. Some of the physical problems caused are lack of coordination, reduced mobility, stiffness, swelling and weakness.
Trigger points are very common
Trigger points can have a huge effect on people’s health. Travell and Simons, who have researched and mapped trigger points, estimate that they are the primary cause of pain 75% of the time, and play some role in all pain. This considered, it is surprising how little is generally known about trigger points – the term is still not found in some medical dictionaries!
Trigger points are caused by accidents, falls, muscle strain and the infinite varieties of muscle overuse. Poor posture can also be a big factor.
Treating trigger points
Trigger point therapy is a technique that involves applying pressure on trigger points using a series of short firm strokes. The stroke should be no more than 1.5 inches long and last for about two seconds before repeating.
Trigger point therapy is most often used with other massage techniques to treat specific conditions like frozen shoulder.
Trigger points hurt when compressed but the moderate pain felt during massage is therapeutic in itself, since the electric impulses generated disrupt the neurological feedback loop that maintains a trigger point.
Between treatments, it helps to massage your trigger points yourself. Benedetta will show you how to do this.
Benedetta practices from her relaxed and comfortable rooms in the leafy Hermitage area of Morningside, Edinburgh.