I get asked what a trigger point is on almost a daily basis.
For that reason I thought it would be best to write a short post with some basic information on trigger points.
What is a trigger point?
In the most simple terms a 'trigger point' is a section of muscle that has gone into a localised spasm. This spasm causes the muscle fibres in that area to become contracted.
Why do trigger points develop?
Trigger points can develop for a number of reasons but the most common cause are prolonged poor posture, acute injury or poor biomechanics.
Where do triggers points most commonly occur?
Trigger points can occur all over the body, however the most common area I personally treat is in the neck and shoulders. The calves or gluteus are another area I see on a regular basis.
Why do trigger points cause pain?
Triggers points cause pain in two ways.
The first is due to mechanical pressure that is caused by the tension in the trigger points.
The second is due to chemical irritation, due to the build up of lactic acid (and other waste products) in the muscles.
How can trigger point be treated?
Firstly the underlying reason for the trigger points development must be addressed. For example poor posture must be corrected.
Secondly trigger points respond well to (relatively) deep pressure. Trigger point therapy is very effective as the 'mechanical' pressure will be released. Alongside this extra lactic acid can be removed using varying soft tissue techniques.