When the muscles in your back or neck tense up, it can be paralyzing. Plus, it’s difficult to figure out where the pain originated. Reaching back, you might feel small lumps in the area that hurt when you press down. Where did those come from?
Maybe someone tells you to go get a massage—something to work out the “knots.”
But, wait! Before you make an appointment anywhere, it’s important to know what you’re in for. To make sure trigger point massage therapy is right for your pain or injury, here are a few things to consider.
What is trigger point massage therapy?
Trigger point is a type of massage therapy targeting areas of the muscles that have contracted and formed small, fibrous nodules that are tender to the touch, sometimes referred to as “knots.” Pressing on these points can also produce pain in other areas, sometimes quite a distance from the point of origin. This is called “referred pain.”
Unlike other types of massage that may involve the whole body, trigger point massage focuses on these specific areas by applying isolated pressure on the point, followed by release.
Where did it come from?
Dr. Janet Travell coined the term “trigger point” in 1942. Her research showed that trigger points in one muscle followed specific patterns for referred pain through the body (she would later go on to become President John F. Kennedy’s personal White House physician who worked to relieve his chronic back pain).
When is it used?
If you’ve injured or overused a certain muscle or group of muscles, multiple trigger points may have formed, causing pain and restricting mobility. If you’re suffering from acute or chronic pain, regular trigger point massage therapy can help.
What are the benefits?
Trigger point massage therapy releases constricted areas in the muscle to relieve pain and help you regain mobility. Similar to deep tissue massage, this type of therapy may not be a relaxing process but it can significantly relax your muscles and release tension, often after just one session.