What is a Trigger point?


Michael Lopez RMT

Registered Massage Therapist

Dr. Travell and Simons says, “it’s a hyper irritable spot in skeletal muscle that is associated with a hypersensitive palpable nodule”. Let’s make this simple to understand. Let’s imagine that you’re grumpy and you don’t want anyone near you, you cross your arms, coward forward and are just unhappy, that’s a trigger point. For whatever reason, that spot appears unhappy and it gets that increased tension. If you stay in that position long enough, you will feel tight and stiff when you try to move positions.

This often happens where the nerve and muscle meet. In many cases the surrounding nerve will be affected and fascial layers tend to thicken around the affected area. Why does this happen? When you stay in that position long enough, you lose the ability for your fascial layers to slide and glide past themselves.

How do we fix that?

Well, often we need to look at the surrounding areas. 9/10 times where you think the pain is, it’s not. That trigger point you’re feeling is picking up the slack for something somewhere else that is not working properly. Whatever that area is, it isn’t doing its job, so the surrounding areas must work harder to compensate. The easiest way to impart stability in an area is to take away mobility from somewhere else. We need to treat the cause, not the painful spot. If we keep treating the pain without addressing why the pain is happening, then the pain is just going to keep coming back. That’s not to say you shouldn’t treat the painful spot because you should, you need to calm it down, make it happy before treating the cause. Like firefighters, they control the fire and work to determine the cause so they can prevent it from happening again.