What is trigger point therapy?

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Many of our students ask us what trigger point therapy is, and today we are going to clarify a couple of points about it. It is a therapy that in principle is not part of the original Californian massage, but it is certainly an excellent complement, especially to treat cases of chronic pain such as acute, caused by lack of flexibility and inability to move myofascia.

It is ideal to complement the sensation of psychophysical integration that the long and fluid movements of the Californian Massage, with techniques such as the trigger point, to explore in depth the tissue, thus achieving a truly comprehensive treatment. However, it is not a technique that is used alone. Although some spas offer it, it is more common to see this type of technique applied in conjunction with deep tissue massage, or other myofascial activation massages.

Trigger point definition

Trigger points are painful spots in muscle tissue that radiate pain to other areas. A trigger point is an indication that the body has experienced some form of physiological dysfunction, such as poor posture, repetitive mechanical stress, a mechanical imbalance such as legs of different sizes, or acute trauma.

A unique feature of trigger points is that they almost always transmit pain to other areas of the body.

Trigger points are part of your body’s protective mechanism, an important defense reflex that keeps our body safe. Problems occur when the reflex fails or never turns off, causing constant pain and stiffness.

Trigger point therapy is a technique in which trigger points are located and manipulated to reduce pain and ‘deactivate’ the point. This technique is sometimes also called “myofascial trigger point therapy”.

Many of us often say that we have a ball in a particular area, what might be called contraction knots. In the video he relates trigger points to small muscle contractions that respond to pain if touched.

What can trigger point therapy do?

Trigger point therapy can reduce pain, increase movement and allow muscles to soften, lengthen and become stronger. Moderate pressure should be used when treating trigger points. If the therapist presses too hard, it will tighten against the pressure and the muscle will not relax.

Trigger point therapy basically involves ischemic compression, a gentle, non-invasive way of deactivating trigger points and stretching.

Photo: Roger Jackson

The Trigger point release technique may be a little uncomfortable, but should not cause pain. In fact, muscles in pain tend to tighten, so causing pain will prevent the technique from working properly, hence the perfect combination with a more relaxing technique such as the Californian. If it hurts too much, you will begin to tense your muscles in a protective response.

Applying pressure to help restore the muscle

In more standard applications of the technique, the client is asked to rate the intensity of discomfort on a scale of one to ten, with one being ‘not very little discomfort’ and ten being ‘unbearable’. The therapist applies pressure, gradually increasing until it reaches a discomfort level of five or six. The therapist maintains constant pressure until the discomfort is reduced to a level two. Then apply more pressure, holding it again until the level of discomfort decreases. When the level of discomfort reaches a ‘two’, the point is considered deactivated.

Photo: Roger Jackson

If the point does not respond to pressure within one minute, the therapist should back off, as it may not be a trigger point.

It is a fascinating subject, especially when considering the The relationship of trigger points with such poorly understood diseases as fibromyalgia or carpal tunnel syndrome. We recommend the book The Trigger Point Therapy Workbookto deepen the subject or even to treat oneself, with fairly simple exercises on a constant basis.

In our school we regularly have an expert in trigger points. Roger Jackson from the Argentinean school of Oasis Massage, will give a Deep Integration training for professional massage therapists, which integrates not only trigger points but also very effective Deep Tissue techniques, at the end of this month in Barcelona. If you are in the area, we are waiting for you, there are still some places left!

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