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What is Trigger Point Therapy?

Trigger point therapy consists of firm pressure and manipulation of points in the muscles to isolate and soften the knotted muscle tissue. Clusters of trigger points can be found, especially in the gluteus muscles. Secondary trigger points may also exist.


Trigger points are contraction knots in the muscle that may cause pain. Spasms or referred pain can occur elsewhere in the body. Latent trigger points are only painful when pressure is applied. Trigger points can be caused by muscle overload, injury, stress and poor posture.


What is a trigger point?

An active trigger point is a hyperirritable spot in skeletal muscle that is associated with a tender knot in the muscle tissue. These muscles often present as tight and weak. They do not respond to stretching and cause restricted joint range of motion (ROM). When pressed, trigger points are very tender and painful. Also tingling, burning and weakness is felt. They can cause distinctive referred pain patterns and a local muscle twitch reaction.

Trigger points can be found in muscle, fascia, ligaments and tendons. Also found on the periosteum (surface of the bone).


What Factors contribute to Trigger Points?

Once a trigger point has developed it can become self perpetuating and persist until it is fully released.

Many factors can contribute to the formation of trigger points. These include: emotional stress and tension, postural strain, trauma, fatigue, sleep deprivation, prolonged immobility, infections and mineral deficiencies (muscular health).



Biomechanical abnormalities may lead to an increase in stresses on the body and contribute to the formation and perpetuation of Trigger Points. These abnormalities may include:

  • A single initiating event
  • Repetitive microtrauma.
  • As a result of lateral ankle sprains and acute knee injuries
  • Following overuse trauma.
  • Limb length discrepancy
  • Abnormal subtalar joint pronation (tibialis anterior and tibialis posterior) or a hallux limitus (peroneus longus and/or the intrinsic muscles.
  • An ankle equinus (the superficial, deep and anterior compartment muscles).
  • Plantar fasciitis, heel pain, Achilles tendonitis and Bursitis, acute and chronic ankle pain.
  • First metatarsal pain, metatarsalgia, Mortons neuroma,
  • Shin splints, Tibialis muscle syndromes
  • Restless leg syndrome, intermittent claudication, and cramps.
  • Aching feet and legs with no other symptoms
  • Post fracture pain.
  • Osteo and Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Poor work ergonomics can contribute to muscle and joint stress/ overuse.
  • Sports injury.

Trigger Point Categories


An active Trigger Point causes ongoing and persistent muscular pain. It may be a mild ache or very painful. Active trigger points feel tender to the touch. Pain can be referred to another part of the body when pressure is applied to the area. Active trigger points will lead to weakness of the muscle in which they are located. They may prevent them from fully stretching. An active trigger point can produce a muscle twitch response to stimulation.




A latent Trigger Point is only painful when pressed. They do not refer pain to other parts of the body. The presence of latent trigger points is one of the causes of joint stiffness and reduced ROM .




Satellite Trigger Points (Secondary Trigger Points) can develop at the point of referred pain of an active Trigger Point. This appears to be due to the increased stress occurring in the involved muscle group and needs to be treated in conjunction with the originating active trigger point. E.g. an active trigger point in the calf muscles can create leg pain. Eventually a satellite trigger point in the referred pain area of the heel may develop. Treating the heel area will not have a lasting effect unless you treat the original trigger point in the leg.


Symptoms affected by Trigger Points.

  • Tenderness due to hypersensitive nerve endings.
  • Painful tight areas in muscles mostly contain trigger points, usually accompanied by muscle shortening. If the trigger point is not released the muscle tightness can restrict joint movement and can contribute to recurring neck, hip and low back pain. An example is Achilles tendonitis and Plantar fasciitis, where a combination of trigger points and shortened muscles will cause pain as the associated tendons are put under strain and pull on the bone.
  • Muscle weakness. This can cause a muscle imbalance and related biomechanical problems.
  • A significant characteristic of a trigger point is that it refers pain. Pain may often be felt a long distance from the site of the trigger point.

The cause of the problem is NOT always at the site of pain!


Is Trigger Point therapy the only treatment I need?

With most treatments for any condition, they rarely stand alone. Depending on the causes of your problem, Trigger Point Therapy may be combined with Orthotic therapy, a stretching programme or ergonomic adjustments in your work and home environment.


Book your Trigger Point Massage or Remedial Massage by ringing Cheryl Young and Graham Honeyman at Rainbow Bay Massage on 0419609232 in Tweed Heads Coolangatta Gold Coast
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