Heal Thyself: Your Guide to Trigger Point Release Techniques

Updated on February 26, 2020

Experts estimate that approximately 20.4 percent of adults in the U.S. struggle with chronic pain. Another eight percent deal specifically with high-impact chronic pain that limits them in their daily life. 

If you’re part of this group, chances are you’re very familiar with muscle knots. In fact, you can probably touch the area where you feel pain right now and come in contact with one (or more).

These muscle knots are also known as trigger points, and releasing them can help you to find significant relief from your chronic pain. Read on to learn more about a variety of trigger point release techniques and the benefits they have to offer.

What Are Trigger Points?

Trigger points are tight, tender spots that show up in the muscles. When you press down on the muscle, you can often feel them (they feel like little marbles).

These points show up specifically when the body is experiencing poor circulation and there is a lack of blood flow to the muscle. They’re also caused by increased muscle contractions and nerve sensitivity.

Trigger points can cause pain in the specific area of the body where they’re located. For example, trigger points in the shoulders can lead to should pain. They can also cause referred pain, which is pain felt in a different part of the body.

Benefits of Trigger Point Release

There are lots of reasons to seek out trigger point release therapy, especially if you struggle with chronic pain. The following are some of the greatest benefits trigger point release therapy has to offer:

  • Reduced Pain
  • Improved Range of Motion
  • Reduced Injury Risk
  • Better Posture
  • Better Blood Flow
  • Reduced Soreness

Trigger point release can also lead to increased relaxation. If you’re always tense and stressed out, you’ll have a greater chance of developing more knots throughout your body. This can make your chronic pain worse and stop you from feeling your best.

Trigger Point Release Techniques to Try at Home

At this point, you’re probably thinking that trigger point release sounds pretty great. You’re probably also wondering how you sign up for it. 

The good news is that there are lots of trigger point release techniques you can utilize from the comfort of your own home. Here are some of the most effective approaches you might want to try:

Locate the Knots

Your first job is to locate the trigger points on your muscles. In most cases, you don’t have to look too hard.

Start by doing a bit of palpating with your fingers in and around the area in which you’re experiencing the most pain. As you do this, chances are, you’ll be able to find a muscle knot or two without much trouble.

Press and Hold

Once you’ve found a knot, press down on it and hold the pressure. You’ll feel a bit of discomfort when you first do this. At the same time, though, it’ll likely feel good (think of how you feel during a deep tissue massage) and you’ll want to continue. 

When you’re first learning how to do this, start by holding pressure for about 10 seconds before releasing it. Over time, you can work your way up to holding for longer periods of time (up to 100 seconds). 

Use Small Strokes

In addition to holding pressure, you can also rub the knot using small strokes. You can rub in a circular motion or go back and forth. Both options are effective; try them out and see which one feels better for you.

Don’t Be Too Aggressive

It’s tempting to be overly aggressive when you’re trying to tackle a muscle knot for the first time. Beginners often push way too hard, thinking that more is better. If you’re too aggressive, though, you could end up feeling sore and doing more harm than good.

If you’re ranking the discomfort you feel on a scale of 1-10, aim to place pressure in the 4-7 range. This will help you ensure you’re using enough pressure to release the trigger point, but not so much that you end up causing damage.

Be Consistent

It often takes several rounds of trigger point release for the knot to go away altogether. Remember to be consistent and engage in some trigger point release for a few minutes every day. This will help you see results sooner and ensure that they last.

Use the Right Tools

Finally, be sure to use the right tools for the job. For many people, their fingers alone work fine.

You may want to invest in some additional trigger point release tools, though, such as a foam roller or lacrosse ball. These tools can help you get into tight spots and apply additional pressure. They save your hands from getting fatigued, too.

Advanced Trigger Point Relief

There’s a lot you can do on your own when it comes to releasing trigger points. Sometimes, though, it helps to work with a professional. Receiving trigger point injections can help you to target stubborn trigger points in a more effective way and see more noticeable results.

As the name suggests, trigger point injections involve injecting a substance into the muscle. In this case, the substance is a combination of an anesthetic and a steroid medication. These drugs help to relax the muscle and reduce any inflammation you might be experiencing in a specific area.

Trigger point injection treatments might seem a bit scary at first. They’re not very painful, though, and they can provide long-lasting results. This is especially true when you combine them with corrective exercise to promote proper blood flow and prevent new muscle knots from forming in the future. 

Take Care of Your Muscle Knots Today

Do you think these trigger point release techniques could benefit you? Whether you try releasing them at home by yourself or undergo a professional treatment like trigger point injection, there are lots of reasons to focus on relieving unnecessary tension in your body.

Do you want to learn more about natural pain management before you settle on trigger point release? If so, we have plenty of other resources available on our site. Head to the Rehab section of our site today for more information.

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