Trigger Point Myofascial Massage

What is Trigger Point and Myofascial Massage?

Trigger points, also known as trigger sites or muscle knots, are described as hyperirritable spots in skeletal muscle that are associated with palpable nodules in taut bands of muscle fibers.

The trigger point model states that unexplained pain frequently radiates from these points of local tenderness to broader areas, sometimes distant from the trigger point itself. Practitioners claim to have identified reliable referred pain patterns that associate pain in one location with trigger points elsewhere. There is variation in the methodology for the diagnosis of trigger points and a dearth of theory to explain how they arise and why they produce specific patterns of referred pain.

Compression of a trigger point may elicit local tenderness, referred pain, or local twitch response. The local twitch response is not the same as a muscle spasm. This is because a muscle spasm refers to the entire muscle contracting whereas the local twitch response also refers to the entire muscle but only involves a small twitch, no contraction.

Myofascial Massage: The main innovation of Travell’s work was the introduction of the myofascial pain syndrome concept (myofascial referring to the combination of muscle and fascia). This is described as a focal hyperirritability in muscle that can strongly modulate central nervous system functions. Travell and followers distinguish this from fibromyalgia, which is characterized by widespread pain and tenderness and is described as a central augmentation of nociception giving rise to deep tissue tenderness that includes muscles. Studies estimate that in 75–95 percent of cases, myofascial pain is a primary cause of regional pain. Myofascial pain is associated with muscle tenderness that arises from trigger points, focal points of tenderness, a few millimeters in diameter, found at multiple sites in a muscle, and the fascia of muscle tissue. Biopsy tests found that trigger points were hyperirritable and electrically active muscle spindles in general muscle tissue.  From Wikipedia

(This link will take you to Trigger point info. From Wikipedia,
 the free encyclopedia.)



Based on the discoveries of Drs. Janet Travell and David Simons in which they found the causal relationship between chronic pain and its source, myofascial trigger point therapy is used to relieve muscular pain and dysfunction through applied pressure to trigger points of referred pain and through stretching exercises. These points are defined as localized areas in which the muscle and connective tissue are highly sensitive to pain when compressed. Pressure on these points can send referred pain to other specific parts of the body.


Trigger Point Therapy can relieve muscular aches and pains in association with these areas. It can also assist with the redevelopment of muscles and/or restore motion to joints. Trigger Point Performance products are specifically designed to support the massage associated with Trigger Point Therapy. Trigger points are described as hyperirritable spots in skeletal muscle that are associated with palpable nodules in taut bands of muscle fibers. Trigger point researchers believe that palpable nodules are small contraction knots and a common cause of pain. Compression of a trigger point may elicit local tenderness, referred pain, or local twitch response. The local twitch response is not the same as a muscle spasm. This is because a muscle spasm refers to the entire muscle entirely contracting whereas the local twitch response also refers to the entire muscle but only involves a small twitch, no contraction.


These trigger point charts show specific areas that have been identified as trigger points and typical trigger point referral patterns. By strengthening, toning, and massaging these areas, flexibility and strength that has been lost can potentially be regained.




Trigger Point Massage

As I began studying massage therapy I became increasingly interested in discovering what exactly caused certain areas of the body to refer to pain. I was amazed that I could apply pressure to spots in the middle of the back and you would feel pain referring to your chest.

I then began studying Trigger Point Massage techniques. I had a basic knowledge of how muscle tissues responded during massage treatment and I was thoroughly interested in learning about the cause, symptoms, and treatments of trigger points.

What I had found in my search is that most trigger points are caused by repeated stress on individual muscles. This seems to cause a continual contraction of the muscle group which directly and indirectly causes these specific muscle knots.

What I have found is that during a trigger point massage session many of my clients also tell me that they can experience a release of other muscles in their body that are not related at all to the spots that I am focused on. I truly feel that while applying pressure to individual trigger points our bodies release levels of dopamine into our system to elicit pain relief.

With this additional pain reliever in the body, it allows my clients to become even more relaxed and almost enter a state of meditation. Trigger point therapy is extremely effective in alleviating symptoms of migraine headaches, sinus pressure, and back pain.

When receiving Trigger Point Therapy it is essential that you find a therapist that is qualified in the treatment. If a trigger point is stimulated too short a time it can actually activate the area to release more pain.

If a trigger point is pressed for too long, or too hard for too long, it can cause the area to feel as though it were bruised for a number of days following treatment. It is always best to go with a therapist that you feel comfortable with who has proved over time to be competent in their treatment styles as well as conscious of how you are receiving and experiencing the treatment provided.

To use Symptom Checker click on these links and simply move your cursor over the body figurine and click on the area where you feel pain.  A new window will then open and allow you to choose which pain pattern looks the most like the pain you are experiencing.  You may then click on that picture and review information pertaining to that specific muscle.

General information is provided for every muscle listed and is intended to educate the general population on the pain that arises from the muscular system.  This information is not intended to provide medical advice or to replace the advice of a licensed physician.  Portions of this information, however, may be used to provide material to your physician for review.

 The Trigger Point & Referred Pain Guide

To use the Trigger Point & Referred Pain Guide click on this link:

Trigger Points

soleus-muscle-trigger-point scm-trigger-points trigger_point gluteus_medius_trigger_point Scalene trigger points Trapezius trigger points Good book for clients-trigger-point-therapy-book

Travell and Simon's Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: v. 1 & v. 2: The Trigger Point Manual Janet Travell 1901-1997

Massage cane- A good way to work out trigger points trapezius-2-3-trigger-points trigger-point-massage-could-help-ease-your-headache-pain

*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis, or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company, or specific massage therapy technique, modality, or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.