What is trigger pointing?

Trigger pointing is a neuromuscular technique used by sports massage therapists to help ease pain in muscle tissue.

A trigger point is an area of muscle tissue that has become tight and hyperirritable.  It can often result in a reduced range of motion (ROM), muscle weakness and, due to the sensory receptors in the area becoming overexcited, localised pain.

Trigger points can develop from postural imbalance, overuse of the muscle, muscle injury or compensatory movements that have put the secondary muscle under more strain than usual.  They appear because the muscle has attempted to compensate for the trauma to the muscle fibre.  The fibres in the muscle go into an involuntary spasm and create taut bands in order to create a temporary stabilising effect.  However, trigger points tend to outlive their usefulness and, even after their initial compensatory purpose has disappeared, the trigger point probably hasn’t!  This results in an area of pain, tightness and if left for a long period of time, dysfunctional movement.

The good news is…you can get rid of them.

By using trigger pointing techniques, a sports massage therapist can get the muscle fibres to reduce their spasm and relax.  Direct pressure is applied to the area, which essentially starves the fibres of oxygen.  The pressure forces the tension in the area to increase initially and then to relax gradually. This can take a couple of seconds or longer if the fibres are particularly tight and the process may need to be repeated a few times.

Benefits of trigger pointing include:

  • reduction of localised pain
  • increased ROM
  • improved circulation to the area
  • increased flexibility in the affected muscle

If you have ‘knotty’ areas in your muscles that hurt when you put pressure on them, it’s very likely you have trigger points.  These need addressing before they start to cause any long-term dysfunction or pain, so book in for a sports massage today!