Trigger points – Overview & self-treatment

A trigger point is a small knot in your muscle.

These muscle knots can cause pain where it originates or further away, in a spot that seems complete unconnected.

Trigger points are responsible for a majority of all pain syndromes, especially that caused by myofascial trigger points.

This pain is often referred to as a Myofascial Pain Syndrome.

This simply means that pain is triggered from muscle and fascia.

Unfortunately, there are therapists who do not consider these points as being the trigger for pain.

Nevertheless, you can learn to use self-massage to treat these tiny, painful and persistent areas of tension yourself.

I’ll show you how it is done!

  • On this page you will learn what causes trigger points and the symptoms they cause.
  • There is an entire page dedicated to self-treatment. There, you will get an overview of the most common trigger points, information on how to treat them, and practical tips.
  • You’ll find the link at the bottom of this page.

Trigger Point Course with over 100 Videos

Learn more

Life After Pain Club – for advanced self treatment

Learn more

1. Important information: What you should know!

Specialist literature makes a distinction between “tender points”, which are only painful locally and not radiate, and trigger points.

In practice, this distinction is not relevant because healthy muscles do not respond to pressure with pain. That is of course, unless excessive pressure is applied.

In the absence of serious diseases, sensitivity to pressure is usually a sign of muscular dysfunction and is the body’s way of saying that the corresponding area needs to be taken care of.

In such cases, a self-massage can be a very effective and powerful tool.

If you do not have much time to spend on this today, let me reassure you. Each of the following sections can be taken individually; so it is not a problem if you have not read the other sections.

Simply choose the one you find most interesting!

Trigger points cause physical pain in numerous areas of the body

However, they are only a part of the story.

The point I am trying to make here is particularly important to me. So, let me say it again:

Trigger points are ONLY a part of the story, even if numerous books and therapists want to believe otherwise.

It is true that they trigger many, if not most of our everyday physical pain and it is also true that it is possible to relieve a lot of that pain by treating the trigger points yourself.

Nevertheless, they should not be considered the primary cause because of ignorance or a lack of awareness, because they are not!

Don’t get me wrong. Trigger points should absolutely be eliminated. And more about that can be found further down on this page.

2. Causes

Trigger points are “only” the trigger for a large number of pains.

There are underlying factors that give rise to these muscle knots.

These are almost always acute or chronic muscle strain.

Muscle strain can be caused in different ways. The most common are…

2.1 Constant repetition of uniform movements

When it comes to identical movements, your nervous system reacts by always triggering the same motor units of a muscle. This can quickly lead to a strain on the affected muscle.

This is especially the case if there are no variations in the movements or counter movements.

Examples

  • Paint work
  • Hitting/batting practice in ball sports
  • Jogging – especially if the route and the terrain never change –

2.2 Inactivity: Prolonged holding of a muscle in a contracted or elongated position

Our body is designed for movement; however, we spend much too much time sitting.

This means that our muscles do not move and are kept either contracted or elongated for long periods.

It might sound trite, but…

  • “Doing nothing” is a massive abuse of your muscles.
  • Your nervous system and muscles need a balance of exercise and stimulation to stay healthy.

2.3 Acute strain due to high mechanical stress

Acute muscle strain usually occurs because of an intense contraction/tightening of the muscles.

This may occur unexpectedly, for example, if you slip on ice and the muscles contract by reflex to prevent falling, or intentionally, such as when lifting a heavy object.

“Trigger points are not the bottom line”…

I nevertheless dedicate a large portion of this site to the self-treatment of these points, since it helps to alleviate a number of problems and many times even resolves them.

In any case, a body free of trigger points is something to strive for given that trigger points do not just go away.

Moreover, these points are either active or latent; and in both cases they affect muscle tone, irritate your nervous system and cause problems that are more or less serious.

I will also be publishing a work that provides additional methods for alleviating and eliminating muscle and joint pain.

This work will complement the work on trigger points, but does not replace it because trigger points cannot be eliminated through coordination or breathing exercises, for example.

There will be more on this in the next chapter.

3. Characteristics and symptoms of trigger points

In addition to pain, these points in the muscle often result in to the following.

  • Increased excitability
  • Delayed relaxation
  • Rapid onset of fatigue

What does this mean?

It means that the muscle in question tightens too much for a certain movement, relaxes too slowly, and tires more quickly.

The reason for this is the increase in the energy used and the excessive neural activity.

In simpler terms…

The affected muscle makes poor use of itself, does not work as efficiently as it could, and as such undergoes unnecessary strain!

This is a vicious circle that must be broken by removing the trigger point and the triggering factors.

If it is not eliminated, it may lead to a “paralysis” of the muscle in question, which manifests itself in a “pseudo-muscle weakness”.

In fact, the muscle is not too weak; it is just no longer properly controlled by the nervous system.

This is a kind of self-protection mechanism for the muscles and the body against “non-physiological” activities.

4. Massage tools

You will need a massage tool to treat trigger points yourself.

Of course, massages can be carried out with your fingers, fists or elbows; however, they are not always optimal for many areas of the body.

You might tense up, strain your fingers or not be able to relax during the massage.

There are a wide variety of massagers that will make it all easier.

5. Trigger point overview & self-treatment

You can treat your trigger points yourself; you just need to know how.

The information I have provided in the preceding chapters is only the half of the story; the other half is me showing you how to treat these issues yourself.

As such, I have put together a summary of the most important tips for self-treatment as well as an extensive overview.

This information has its own page since it goes beyond the scope of this single page.

Continue to overview

6. Online Trigger Point Video course

If you have enjoyed my content so far, then you might consider signing up for the free online trigger point course.

It´s a video series which will help you to better understand and treat your pain, no matter if it´s back pain, knee pain, neck pain, etc.

If you feel frustrated, left alone or confused because it seems no one is of help when it comes to relieving your pain, than this is for you!

It will lift your mood and you will start to see some light at the end of the tunnel!