What are trigger points?

Trigger points; also known as muscle knots or pressure points are described as highly sensitive areas of skeletal muscle.  There are many different trigger points on the body which may or may not become painful when activated. Activated trigger points are often hard to diagnose and can be caused by a variety of different factors such as muscle overload, disease, infections and psychological distress.  Trigger point therapy can be used to reduce unexplained or undiagnosed pain and reduce muscle tension in specific regional areas.  Often unexplained pain can be felt in a completely different area to the location of the trigger point and once direct pressure is applied to the corresponding trigger point the pain symptoms will increase and spread to the original painful area.  For example; one of the common shoulder trigger points is located in the back of the shoulder close to the shoulder blade and when activated pain can often be felt in the front and down the side of the shoulder.

From a more scientific point of view, trigger point therapy is when direct force is applied to a specific hypersensitive area of skeletal muscle and the Golgi Tendon Organ (GTO) detects a change in muscle tension and relaxes the muscle fibres.  The GTO is a neurotendinous organ meaning that is made up of both nerve and tendon tissue that helps to detect force and length changes in the muscle and transfers these signals to the nervous system.  This form of therapy is commonly used during physiotherapy and massage therapy to improve pain symptoms and reduce muscle tightness.

Self myofascial release (SRM) is a type of trigger point therapy that has received a lot more attention in the last few years as it requires the individual to self administer the therapy to the specific trigger point.  Different items can be used for this type of therapy such as foam rollers, trigger point balls as well as golf and tennis balls.  Foam rollers are one of the most common and versatile of all the different items used for SMR.  It requires the individual to use there own body weight as the resistance to allow the foam roller to push into the desired trigger point.  Once on the trigger point it is important to relax as much as possible and let the foam roller push into the muscle group.  The foam roller can be used on many different muscle groups of the legs and also the lower, middle and upper back.

To learn more about foam roller treatment or trigger point therapy and to help reduce your unexplained pain and tightness, please contact Active Physio Health on ph. 4972 5155, or visit the website: www.activephysiohealth.com.au . We have been providing physiotherapy and exercise rehabilitation services to Gladstone for the past 5 years.

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