Trigger Point Massage – Part I

Trigger Point Massage

Trigger Point Massage – Overview

Trigger point massage is a type of massage used primarily to treat chronic pain.  It identifies and heals areas within the myofascial tissue of the body that contribute to muscle pain, spasms, and difficulties in posture.

Trigger point massage works primarily by combining the Eastern techniques of acupressure with a more Western approach to massage. The trigger points of the body are closely aligned with the traditional areas of acupuncture focus.

By manipulating these areas through massage, professionals are able to relieve many types of pain that are unidentifiable by modern technologies (such as MRIs).

What are Trigger Points?

The body’s trigger points are natural areas within the muscle that get “injured” due to regular body wear and tear, injuries, and ailments like fibromyalgia. They appear in the myofascial structures of the body, which includes the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and even scar tissue. In most cases where trigger point massage is used as a way to reduce pain, the problems are located in the muscles.

Trigger points are responsible for aches, pains, tingling sensations, and even feelings of hot and cold. In more severe cases, they are believed to contribute to symptoms in other parts of the body, as well. This includes nausea, headaches, earaches, blurred vision, and dizziness.

Trigger points can usually be felt in the muscle tissue as tender knots surrounded by regular muscle. Direct pressure on the points results in a twitchy or tingling sensation. By working the trigger points in this way along with a gentle stretching of the surrounding muscle tissue, blood flow is increased, oxygen flow is increased, and pain is reduced.

These trigger points occur all along the length of the body, typically in the axial muscles (the muscles responsible for moving the body from side to side). They are closely aligned with the muscles used to keep the body erect, which is why they are commonly associated with pain related to posture or everyday stresses.

How Trigger Points Work

There are actually several different types of trigger points. Key trigger points are those that are the “cause” of pain, in that activating the point results in pain at that location or elsewhere in the body. Satellite trigger points are those that are located on the trigger point “pathway,” which means that it can be activated elsewhere but still give all the appearance of being the cause of the pain.

(For example, trigger point pain in the forearm might actually be caused by a trigger point in the shoulder.) Trained trigger point massage therapists are able to determine where the real source of the problem lies, which means that the area of focus for the massage may not occur in the same area as the pain.

Following this same format, there are active and latent trigger points. Active trigger points typically cause ongoing and persistent pain, while latent trigger points only hurt when physically manipulated. In many cases, latent trigger points are the cause of satellite trigger point activation.

Part IIThe Benefits of Trigger Point MassageThe Future of Trigger Point Massage

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