Trigger points are tiny knots found in muscle tissue. These can be extremely painful in themselves and often trigger pain in another part of the body. They are a very common cause of pain.
If you’re having trigger point therapy, it helps if you massage your trigger points between treatments. Your trigger point therapist can teach you or you can learn by yourself. Below is some information to help you get going.
How to find your trigger points
Trigger points are found in specific places. These have been mapped and linked to the muscles they affect. So, by identifying the muscles in the area where your pain lies, you can find the triggers.
There are a variety of free online tools containing trigger point maps to help you find your trigger points, including the Trigger Point & Referred Pain Guide.
You will know when you’ve found a trigger point because it hurts! However, not all trigger points cause pain in another part of the body – you can tell the ones that do because they cause an involuntary twitch or jerk when you press lightly on it.
How to self massage your trigger points
Massage your trigger points using short firm strokes. Each stroke should be no more than 1.5 inches long and last for around two seconds. Do 6-12 strokes per trigger point six times a day.
This will be moderately painful; however, this pain is therapeutic in itself. Take care not to not to bruise yourself when you apply pressure to a trigger point.
If you find you are not getting any pain relief, it is likely that you are on the wrong spot. It can take some practice to get this right on your own, so start by treating just one trigger point.
Using aids to treat your trigger points
Massaging trigger points can put strain on your hands and fingers, so try using a lacrosse or tennis ball. For hard-to-reach parts of the back, a tennis ball in a sock against a wall works well.
There are also several purpose-made tools which you use through your clothing, including The Grid (revolutionary foam roller) and Thera Cane. Benedetta recommends and uses The Grid, available from Run and Become.
Massage tool instructions often tell you to do press and hold techniques on your trigger points but the short repeated strokes described above are more effective.
If you want to find out more about treating your trigger points, Benedetta recommends the Trigger Point Therapy Workbook.