How to Release Trigger Points for Myofasical Pain Relief | Lifemoves
Trigger Point Foot Release

How to Release Trigger Points for Myofascial Pain Relief

Last Update: June 28, 2023

Trigger points contribute to muscle and fascia pain (myofascial pain).  Learning how to release trigger points will help you quickly relieve myofascial pain, improve your range of motion, increase strength, and reduce muscle fatigue.

One of the symptoms of myofascial pain is painful local trigger points. These trigger points are shortened portions of the muscle that are not releasing, which are irritable, have limited blood and oxygen flow, are tender to touch and generally painful. These nodules can be as small as a grain of salt or as large as a golf ball.

What is Myofascial Pain Syndrome?

Myofascial pain syndrome may include a number of symptoms including referred pain, muscle weakness, loss of coordination and autonomic functions such as balance, digestion, vision disturbances and bladder control.

What Are the Types of Trigger Points?

Problem trigger points need to be deactivated to fully relieve myofascial pain and increase the range of motion. The types of trigger points are central (primary), secondary (satellite), attachment, latent, and active.   

Diagram of trigger points in muscles.

The knots in the middle of the sarcomere (the smallest contractile unit of the muscle)  are called central trigger points. They create the main “taut band” between each end of the muscle fibre where it attaches to the bone, much like a knot in a rope.

Satellite trigger points are activated by primary ones in other parts of the same muscle.  

Attachment trigger points develop near where the muscle attaches to the bone and further restrict movement.  These trigger points arise because of long-term tension.

In addition, the ones that are more vocal and that get our attention are called active trigger points.  Quieter latent trigger points are only sensitive when pressure is applied. For example, if you've been sitting at a desk for awhile with rounded shoulders, the back muscles will be achy with active trigger points, while the chest muscles will have latent trigger points. 

Releasing Trigger Points for Myofascial Pain Relief

We will often instinctively self-massage active trigger points that are giving us the most pain for temporary relief, including those at muscle attachments. Instead, to gain more lasting relief from trigger points, look for the latent ones.

Stretching before releasing the trigger points may continue to create more tension by tightening the original knots. The idea behind fascial stretch therapy and trigger point release is to place each muscle and joint at its optimal functional resting length.

When a muscle is at it's optimal resting length, it will have better blood flow, the limb will move more smoothly and it will cause less pain.

It is possible to find and release trigger points on your own.  Use this handy guide to help you understand trigger point referral patterns and to help you relieve myofascial pain symptoms. 

Follow the eight steps below to get relief from myofascial pain and release trigger points with self-myofascial release.  There are many trigger point tools around, however, we found that RAD makes the best family of tools on the market. 

Note: Lifemoves is a RAD affiliate. We do receive a small commission for anything bought using the link. We only endorse things that we believe in and use ourselves.

8 Steps to Unlock Restricted Movements with Trigger Point Therapy

  1. 1
    Search for and deactivate primary trigger points, which can also be latent. That will give you relief and enable the other ones to calm down.
  2. 2
    Explore and deactivate secondary central trigger points.
  3. 3
    Release both sides, starting with the side that is most symptomatic. Repeat the most symptomatic side twice.
  4. 4
    Explore and deactivate satellite and attachment trigger points.
  5. 5
    Don't try to completely eliminate the trigger points in one session. If they are chronic it may take a few days or sessions. 
  6. 6
    Complete gentle range of motion movements and stretches. Both stretches and unloaded movements need to be pain-free and completed to the first point of resisted motion.
  7. 7
    Stay well-hydrated.
  8. 8
     Consider changing lifestyle factors, where possible to  to stop trigger points from developing. It is not is not always easy to do because of occupation (prolonged positions, repetitive tasks), sport, daily activities, cold, nutrition, chronic illness and lack of hydration. 

Alfred Ball

Practicing Kinesiologist | Certified Fascia Stretch Therapist | Clinical Pilates Instructor. Alfred has been a Kinesiologist since 1999. He started Lifemoves in 2007 to provide exercise therapy and fitness programs for people with injuries, chronic diseases and disabilities. His focus as a Kinesiologist is to empower and to guide people to learn to move with more strength, confidence and ease. He is an avid Lego and Star Wars fan. His other hobbires include writing, playing board games and being active outdoors.

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