If you’ve suddenly flinched in pain because of a tiny spot on one of your sore muscles, it’s very likely you’ve developed what is known as a trigger point. Here, we’re going to show you everything you need to know about trigger points and how a deep tissue massage can help with them.
What is a Trigger Point?
A trigger point is a small area that has developed tightness in the muscle fibers and fascia. Also known as contraction knots, a trigger point is something that can be felt underneath the skin and is sensitive to the point that it can cause a lot of pain.
A trigger point is unique in the fact that, in comparison to other muscle pain, a trigger point is not always felt in that specific location but could be in a different part of the body, also known as referred pain. Trigger points don’t necessarily cause pain either, or people don’t feel specific pain located in the area, but may just have tight, stiff muscles or a reduced range of motion.
The Two Types of Trigger Points
Passive trigger points hurt at the exact location. For example, if you’ve got a painful knot in your calf and someone applies firm pressure to it, you will feel the pain where there is more pressure.
Active trigger points refer to the pain felt in another part of the body. For example, if somebody presses on your shoulder, this could extend along the shoulder into the arm, chest, or neck.
Why Do We Feel Trigger Point Problems?
There is no exact reason why some people suffer with their trigger points and others do not. It is assumed the trigger points become so tense they limit blood flow to the muscle tissue, which creates pain and tightness, stopping the nutrients from getting to the muscle because of decreased circulation.
What Are the Causes of Trigger Points?
If you overwork muscle fibers, this can cause a mini contraction in a small part of the fiber or the fascia, which stretches the muscle band on both sides of the trigger point, restricting blood flow to the area, reducing the potential for nutrients and building up waste material in the cells.
There can be a number of reasons why trigger points form, including dehydration, tense muscles, microtears in the muscle, or general muscle weakness arising from poor mobility or sarcopenia (also known as muscle wastage). A trigger point could stop you from moving the effective muscle, which causes other fibers to contract and this can cause a cascade of other trigger points to develop.
Where Can We Get Trigger Points?
Trigger points can occur anywhere in the body where there is muscle tissue. If there is a small area where there is muscle tension in the tissue, this could be a potential trigger point. If they occur regularly and excessively, you could experience slight pain or more chronic pain, depending if you have a low pain threshold or not, or myofascial pain syndrome, which is a chronic condition that causes pain in the muscular system and is confined to a specific area. The most common areas of the body where we can feel trigger points include:
- Lower back muscles, specifically the quadratus lumborum.
- The upper trapezius muscles on each side of your neck above the shoulders.
- Along your iliotibial (IT) band.
- Calf muscles.
What is the Solution to Removing Trigger Points?
As trigger points do not heal by themselves, deep tissue massage therapy is necessary. Deep tissue treatment works to release tension and tightness held within the deepest layers of the muscles and connective tissues. The difference between a deep tissue massage and a regular massage is that it will focus more on your primary areas of discomfort, but unlike a regular massage, is a very intense massage technique, but there are so many benefits of deep tissue massage:
Deep tissue massage offers powerful relief for chronic pain and can help to prevent future trigger points. Additionally, deep tissue massage helped people with sports injuries like plantar fasciitis or problems with tendons, chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, or more everyday issues like lower back pain.
If you’re experiencing a reduced range of motion because of trigger points and tight muscles, a deep tissue massage can help to relieve that chronic muscle tension resulting in better performance.
Breaks Up Scar Tissue
If you have any scars, a deep tissue body massage can release tension trigger points cause but can also remove tension created by scars, promoting greater flexibility in certain areas and helping to loosen the fascia.
Healing from any injury is partly to do with stimulating and increasing blood flow to those areas. A full body massage is an incredibly effective technique that can increase blood flow and work to promote a speedier healing of injuries.
What to Expect After a Deep Tissue Massage
Trigger points feel like marbles or knots under the skin, and when you go for your first deep tissue massage to reduce the sensation of muscle knots in a shoulder, you could expect to feel muscle soreness and tenderness in that area, but you shouldn’t feel any active pain. Many people ask if a deep tissue massage hurt, but despite massage therapists providing intense pressure on the deeper layers of the muscles anf problems areas, most people after a deep tissue massage experience a greater sense of stress relief. Some people say they have the best night’s sleep they’ve ever had because they’ve felt so much stress and anxiety melt away.
Additionally, people are incredibly thirsty; this is because a deep massage releases fluid from the muscle tissues into the vascular system, resulting in a greater loss of water, so you need to ensure you hydrate properly.
If you’ve been experiencing trigger point issues for a long time, that first instance when you have a deep tissue massage, expect to feel slightly nauseous or have a headache because it works to remove toxins being moved around your body. A deep tissue massage is generally safe for most people, and you can expect to reap the benefits after any initial side effects but be sure to eat well, relax, and you will be feeling like your best self very shortly.
A Final Word
If you’ve been experiencing trigger points or tightness in your muscles for a long time but have not been able to get to the root cause, a deep tissue massage is a wonderful solution to identify problem areas and meet your specific needs. It can ensure that you don’t just get to the source of the problem, but can also increase flexibility and feel far more relaxed, which will benefit your life in so many ways.