Trigger points are often called muscle knots and are areas within your muscles fibers and fascia, which have suffered from trauma over a prolonged period of time or an acute trauma from an injury. In most cases, we have trigger points in our body due to chronic stress we place on it day-to-day. Even just by sitting for prolonged periods at a desk. The muscles of the upper back and neck experience over contraction and as a result become fatigued and hyperirritable.
“Trigger points have been found to be the primary cause of pain roughly 75% of the time and they play at least a part in virtually every pain problem!”
As stated in the book written by Dr Janet G. Travell and Dr G. David Simons Entitled; Mysofascial pain and dysfunction
Our muscle fibers have contracting mechanisms called sarcomeres surrounding each muscle fiber. The sarcomeres help our muscles contract. When a muscle is in a constant state of contraction the sarcomere loses its ability to relax. In this state, the muscle fiber feels wider (a bit like a knot). The affected fiber becomes starved of blood supply and as a result waste products build up. The area then sends out a signal to the brain to reduce mobility (or use) in that area.
The consequences of this lack of use are many. Reduced mobility can lead to further fascial adhesions and weakness of the tissue. In fact, this weakness, fatigue, hyperirritability and adhesive tendency leads to the area being less elastic and more susceptible to damage! Hence we fInd ourselves in a vicious cycle without proper management.
These trigger points have been well documented to refer pain to other areas of your body. For example,
Did you know many of us suffer from headaches regularly?
A neck muscle called the sternocleidomastoid allows you to rotate and tilt your head. It also allows you to lift your head towards the ceiling and your chin down toward your chest. Trigger points in this muscle can refer pain to the forehead causing you the feeling of a headache! Massage therapy can target these areas in order for your body to release the tension in the muscle fibers and fascia. Working on these areas has proven to restore function and release myofascial trigger points.
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David G. Simons, Janet G Travell. Lols S.Simons (1992) Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual; Vol. 2., The Lower Extremities Hardcover . Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.