rigger points are discrete, focal, hyperirritable spots located in a taut band of skeletal muscle and fascia. They produce pain locally and in a referred pain pattern and often accompany chronic musculoskeletal disorders. Acute trauma or repetitive work strain may lead to the development of stress on muscle fibers and the formation of myofascial trigger points.
Traditional Approach to Trigger Points
There are many ways to approach trigger points therapeutically. Whether you come from a traditional Massage Therapy, Physiotherapy, Chiropractic, or Dental background, your approach may look different. The one commonality of these traditional approaches, is that they are aiming to reduce the trigger point itself, as a cause of immobility and pain.
I am compelled to ask a deeper question: why is the trigger point forming in the first place?
Cause of Trigger Points
In my experience, a trigger point is a defense mechanism created by your body, to maintain postural balance. When your body is “off kilter”, it means that it is not in an ideal position, spatially, with respect to gravity. For example, your head may be forward, pelvis may be tipped, you may have a leg length discrepancy, etc. Our bodies are designed to operate optimally in upright posture. As a result of these imbalances, the mechanical forces your body now has to deal with are going to cause strain within your tissues.
This is how I characterize trigger points. These points will develop in areas of your body which are under stress, and the one way your body innately has to cope with them is to create tension (trigger point) as a response to this threat.
For example, if you were to hold a 5 pound weight with your hand, at shoulder level, it is much easier to do so with your hand near your body, as opposed to being outstretched in front of you. I urge you to try it! How long can you hold a 5 pound weight at your shoulder, versus holding it with an outstretched arm? You’ll soon feel the answer in your body, maybe in places you didn’t even expect! Strain, stress and discomfort quickly set in as your body fights to counterbalance this decentralized weight.
Long Term Treatment of Trigger Points
Don’t just massage out, use ultrasound on, needle with acupuncture, or inject saline solution into that trigger point; simply hold the weight closer to your gravitational midline! Instead of merely addressing the trigger point itself (which is essentially treating the protective mechanism), look for the root cause of why the body is developing these trigger points as a protective mechanism; resolve the imbalance or “threat.”
To get rid of the trigger point and its side effects you’ve got to resolve the body’s need for developing the trigger point in the first place. Our therapists can help you by working on the muscles that are bringing your posture out of balance, educating you on proper ergonomics and the importance of habitual posture reminders! We empower our clients by giving specific customized strength and stretch exercises for alignment, ergonomics, and balance for long term resolution!