As humans and active beings, everyone goes through a point in their life where they have some sort of pain or discomfort. It stems from a multitude of causes resulting in different aches and pains. One of the instigators of pain is a trigger point. Trigger points are a tight irritated point in a taught band of muscle fiber characterized by referral pain and tenderness to the touch.
So why is this important information to know? Skeletal muscles control all of our movement throughout the body. These tight sections of muscle don’t allow for the muscle to function to its full potential. When the body can’t move and function normally, it results in pain, decreased range of motion, and tightness or stiffness.
Trigger points are developed either acutely, by an isolated incidence of injury, or chronically, repetitive use of the same muscles or actions, creating tightness and dysfunction in the muscle. The fibers of the muscle adhere to one another not allowing for the muscle to contract or relax fully; relying on the remainder of surrounding fibers to pick up the slack. A lot of functional type trigger points are a result of ischemia, or lack of blood flow. If new blood can’t get to the muscle to provide nutrients and oxygen for healthy function, the body will react by tightening down in order to preserve and protect. The body will bear down and tighten anytime the threat of injury is present. It will remain in that state until it is released and returned to normal function.
So you have all this information, now how do you alleviate these nagging points you might ask? The most common treatment for trigger points is by using direct pressure. By using pressure, the signal to the brain from the muscle is interrupted in a way that allows the body to let go of the tightness and tension. Once the muscle begins to relax, blood flow can return to the area of tightness allowing oxygen and nutrients to heal and return to normal function. This process is not always comfortable, but necessary in order to keep the body at homeostasis (aka it’s home base or normal function) and refrain from injury. If muscles are continuously tightened down, the rest of the body will follow suit and continue to think the body is in this constant state of threat. Soft tissue work and joint manipulations help the body return to its home and keep you functioning on a daily basis!
By: Matti Bermingham