Trigger Point Therapy
I’ve heard of trigger point therapy before. What is it?
Trigger point therapy, often referred to as myofascial release or pressure point massage, involves the application of gentle yet firm pressure to specific areas along the body, known as pressure or trigger points. This pressure is provided by the hands of a skilled physical therapist. Sometimes, a therapist may choose to use certain devices or tools to assist.
The manual pressure provided by a therapist during trigger point therapy is intended to relax and normalize trigger points within the fascia, a widespread, sheath-like, fibrous tissue encasing your musculoskeletal structures. Fascia, which is normally pliant and flexible, is important for protecting muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and nerves and helps them move together in a coordinated way. However, with stress or injury the fascia can become inelastic and stiff. This restricts the normal movement of the connective tissues beneath, leading to pain, immobility, and even an increased risk of injury.
To this end, trigger point therapy is intended to “release” the tension and stress in the fascia and other structures within targeted treatment areas, thus restoring normal movement, relieving pain, and reducing your risk of further tissue damage.
What and where are trigger points?
You probably know what a knot feels like: an area that feels uncomfortable, stiff, dense, and maybe even tender. Indeed, “knots” are essentially synonymous with trigger points, although they may not always be overtly obvious or noticeable.
Trigger points can happen anywhere in the body and are especially common in the shoulders, back, and hips.
What conditions may benefit from myofascial release?
Fascial tissue is located throughout your body, so adhesions and activated trigger points anywhere within this tissue can affect a wide number of physiological systems and structures. Myofascial release has been found effective for treating conditions such as:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Medial and lateral epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow, respectively)
- Adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder)
- Headaches and migraines
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- Thoracic outlet syndrome
- Temporo-Mandibular Joint (TMJ) disorder