Every muscle in your body has potential trigger points that can be activated by inflammation, muscle overuse, nerve pain, trauma, and infections. Trigger points can either cause pain over the affected muscle or refer pain to other areas of the body. Others can only be felt when the muscle is touched directly or palpated by the therapist. Trigger point massage helps to alleviate the source of the pain through isolated pressure and release. Unlike other types of massage therapy, trigger point massage sessions are meant to be results-oriented and more therapeutic rather than relaxing or luxurious. This article discusses everything you need to know about trigger point massage and how it can improve your health.
How Does Trigger Point Massage Work?
The goal of trigger point massage is to break up nodular areas of muscular tightness around your body. A trained professional is familiar with pain referral patterns of trigger points and how to treat them. However, the recipient must actively participate during the session by identifying the exact location of pain and describing the intensity of the discomfort.
The treatment of trigger points involves unlocking the contraction mechanism of muscles that are locked into a shortened position. A skilled practitioner will apply sustained pressure on the trigger points for a specified period to release the muscle spasm. It takes about 10 to 30 seconds to deactivate the trigger point before releasing and relaxing the muscle. This procedure helps to improve blood circulation around the muscle, which brings it to a healthy state. Trigger point massage is one of the most effective therapies for treating muscle pain and discomfort.
What to Expect After Treatment?
Many patients experience pain relief during the first treatment while others may require several treatments before they realize an improvement in their condition. It is common for patients to experience soreness and some level of discomfort that may last for one to two days following treatment. However, it is expected to resolve after the first few treatments.
You may also experience fatigue because the held musculature requires some time to relax before returning to a normal tone. Pain patterns may change as the workload of your musculature shifts which is a normal and temporary stage of recovery from chronic pain. Avoidance of overexertion, pacing your activities and minimizing stress should be given top priority to allow for quick recovery. However, the rate of improvement may vary depending on your level of fitness and overall physical health, type of injury, depression or anxiety, diet, and underlying skeletal abnormalities.
Benefits of Trigger Point Massage
- Pain Relief
Trigger point massage therapy is used to alleviate different types of pain. It uses various techniques such as rubbing, pressing, and kneading to unlock tightened muscle knots or spasms. Although it may not be very relaxing, the application of direct pressure on trigger points helps to release spasms that cause muscle pain.
- Improves Flexibility and Range of Motion
Tight muscles can limit blood flow in different parts of your body causing general stiffness and reduced range of motion. You may find it difficult to stretch your arm or leg to its maximum range because of extreme pain that occurs when you do so. Trigger point massage helps to improve flexibility and overall range of motion by releasing muscle tension.
- Improved Posture
Tight muscles can affect your posture due to slouching. Trigger point therapy relieves muscle pain and tightness that eases tension on your back, neck, shoulders, and other areas that affect posture.
- Decreased Headaches
Headaches that are caused by tight neck and upper back muscles can be treated using trigger point massage therapy. When the underlying cause of your headache is diagnosed as muscular, your doctor may recommend trigger point massage to ease the tension around the affected muscles, which results in fewer headaches.
- Increased Blood Circulation and Tissue Hydration
When pressure is applied to the affected muscles, the water is squeezed out of the soft tissues and sucked back when the pressure is taken away. This helps to improve the elasticity of the arteries, which improves blood circulation around the body. Trigger point massage releases the congestion spots caused by muscle spasms to allow enough supply of oxygen and essential nutrients to the tissues.
Trigger point massage can help to alleviate, control, or eliminate muscle pain through repeated cycles of pressure application and release. Different therapists may employ distinct techniques when performing trigger point massage. It is important to talk to your therapist about the exact location of pain and describe the intensity of your discomfort so that they can design a custom treatment plan for you.