Trigger Points & Active Tissue Release Massage

Trigger Point Movements 101

Thomas KnoxMay 24, 2012

Overview

Trigger points are hypersensitive “knots” that develop in muscles. They can be painful, even causing pain beyond the affected tender area. The action you can take to work out these kinks is called trigger point therapy, or trigger point massage—a technique you can perform on yourself at the gym or even at home.

Applying gentle pressure with a variety of tools like a massage stick, foam roll, golf ball, trigger point ball, or trigger point roller can isolate and release the so-called knots. It is also sometimes combined with a stretch for added benefit.

How It Works

A trigger point develops when a muscle is constantly being activated and then stays contracted. This could be the result of overuse, misuse, inflammation, trauma, or nerve dysfunction.

Trigger point therapy works by applying gentle pressure to the knot through massage. The pressure creates a slight stretch in the muscle, disrupting the constant activation and allowing the muscle to return to its normal resting state. Trigger point movements should feel like a deep massage.

Most trigger points will respond to this pressure. If it doesn’t, you may need to seek the help of a medical professional who can apply additional treatment like myofascial release, dry needling, or injections.

When to Do It

  • Pre-workout. You can perform trigger point movements to prepare your muscles for a training session.
  • When you’re in pain. Often times, muscle or joint pain can be the result of trigger points in the area.
  • Post-workout. After training, trigger point movements can help release tension in your muscles so they can begin the recovery process.

Coaching Keys

 

  • Maintain pressure throughout the massage.
  • The more uncomfortable it is, the more it needs to be massaged.
  • Spend more time on any sore spots that you find.
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