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The Principles of Trigger Point Therapy and How It Heals Stress Points

Updated: Feb 21

Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy (MTrP) or "trigger point therapy" (TrP) is a treatment for myofascial trigger points (MTrP) or "trigger points" (TrP) in muscles and fascia. Myofascial trigger points are stiff, painful regions in the muscles. Muscles and fascia are affected by MTrPs. Myofascial trigger points are one of the most prevalent causes of persistent musculoskeletal pain, also known as myofascial pain, and maybe located anywhere on the body.

A qualified BodySense Massage Therapist can help you release these painful and stiff muscle spots and achieve long-term improvements. Manual Trigger Point Therapy and Dry Needling are the two most common ways to treat trigger points.

What are Myofascial Trigger Points?

The history:

Muscle discomfort has been studied since the 15th century and since its inception, it has been coined several terms. But myofascial pain and myofascial trigger points are the most often used words nowadays. Dr Janet Travell, MD (1901-1997), an American medical doctor who served as President John F. Kennedy's personal rheumatologist, was the first to coin the phrase "myofascial trigger point" in 1942.

Trigger point treatment has been used by thousands of physiotherapists, doctors, chiropractors, massage therapists, and other health professionals throughout the globe since 1983.

Definition of Myofascial Trigger Points

Myofascial trigger points may be detected clinically as painful spots in a muscle. Muscle fibres undergo microscopic alterations that cause them to contract and shorten over time.

This is frequently caused by muscular overloading or improper loading. According to one idea, the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the trigger site is continually disrupted. This results in a persistent constriction that is impossible to resolve

In detail:

Microlesions in the sarcoplasmic reticulum, a muscle fibre (muscle cell) organ, develop. They may be induced by muscle overloads, such as from an injury or excessive usage.

Within the muscle fibre, the sarcoplasmic reticulum is a membrane system. One of the sarcoplasmic reticulum's roles is to transport and store calcium ions. Any damage to the sarcoplasmic reticulum system might cause an overabundance of calcium ions to be released, causing muscle fibres to contract indefinitely.

This is due to the fact that calcium causes muscle fibre contraction. Multiple such contractions in a given muscle location might result in a taut band that is readily felt by expert practitioners.

Due to the compression of blood vessels, these prolonged muscular contractions might cause poor circulation in that location, blocking adequate oxygen flow to the muscle and preventing it from healing properly. If this situation persists, the muscle may tense even more and become uncomfortable. This is known as the "Energy Crisis Theory".

Myofascial Trigger Points and the "Energy Crisis Theory":

When the sarcoplasmic reticulum is damaged, calcium ions are released in an uncontrolled manner inside the muscle fibres. As a consequence, the little blood arteries inside them are continually contracting and compressing as a consequence of these ions. The circulation and oxygen delivery to the muscle fibres are compromised as a result.

The energy crisis is defined as a scarcity of oxygen and an increase in the metabolic requirement of the muscle cell. This may result in localized inflammation and discomfort, as well as increased muscle fibre contraction and the creation of myofascial trigger points.

Pain and Myofascial Trigger Points

Myofascial trigger points, as previously stated, are a key source of persistent musculoskeletal pain. However, it took a long time for their important role in pain treatment to be recognised. This might be because trigger points aren't uncomfortable until you apply direct pressure to them. They delegate pain to nearby or distant locations.

The source of the pain and the location at which it occurs might be different. For example, trigger points in the abdominal muscles may cause lower back discomfort, whereas trigger points in the neck muscles may cause headaches.

Myofascial trigger points are known for producing transferred pain. Its moniker "Trigger Point" comes from the fact that it refers to one location causing discomfort in another.

Diagnostic Criteria of Myofascial Trigger Points

In the literature and clinical practice, four diagnostic criteria for myofascial trigger points have been presented. These are some of the criteria:

  • a taut band (muscle fibre bundle) in the muscle,

  • a pressure-sensitive region inside the taut band,

  • Pain that is referred from a trigger point &

  • mechanical stimulation of the trigger point causing a local twitch reaction of the trigger point or taut band.

These diagnostic criteria have been found to have excellent intertester reliability. This might indicate that trigger points can be accurately identified.

What Is Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy?

The Objectives - Myofascial trigger point treatment aims to:

  • enhance blood flow to the trigger zone

  • expanding the taut band

  • releasing surrounding fasciae.


Trigger points may be treated in a variety of ways. Manual Trigger Point Therapy, Dry Needling, and their combination have all been proved to be extremely successful. Specific manipulations of the muscles, fascia, and connective tissues are used in manual trigger point therapy.

The use of sterile disposable acupuncture needles to promote circulation and blood flow to the afflicted muscle trigger point locations is known as dry needling. This aids in the healing process and the reduction of pain. The better the outcomes, the more precise the therapy on the afflicted trigger point is.

Why is trigger point therapy right for me?

Simple everyday activities such as long-distance commuting, sitting at a desk all day, or even a regular workout regimen may produce muscular tension and strain. This suggests that trigger point treatment can help everyone!

It's a frequent misperception that those who get this form of massage must be able to tolerate a lot of discomfort and stiffness in order to see any noticeable results. Trigger point treatment isn't supposed to be uncomfortable; it's supposed to relieve pain and speed up the healing process.

Combining trigger point massage therapy with other forms of massage, such as Swedish or deep tissue treatments, is an effective and simple method to enjoy a trigger point massage therapy session. Clients may then relax and enjoy all of the therapeutic advantages of trigger point treatment.

Some of the main benefits of trigger point therapy

Many common musculoskeletal diseases and injuries may be efficiently treated using trigger point massage treatment, including:

  • Sciatica pain in the lower back, glutes, legs, and feet

  • Plantar fasciitis

  • Shin splints

  • Migraines

  • Mouse Shoulder

  • Chronic joint pain

  • Rotator cuff injuries and/or immobility

Don't know where to begin? Book a massage at BodySense Massage Christchurch, with one of our professionals and gradually include trigger point therapy in your sessions. Trigger point treatment, when done correctly, is an excellent technique to alleviate and release pain.

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