8 Steps to Quickly Relieve Myofascial Pain and Unlock Restricted Movement
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.
Learning proper trigger point therapy techniques will help you quickly relieve myofascial pain, improve your range of motion, increase your strength and reduce muscle fatigue.
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.
Types of Trigger Points
Problem trigger points need to be deactivated to fully relieve myofascial pain and increase range of motion. The varieties of trigger points are central (primary), secondary (satellite), attachment, latent, and active.
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 fiber 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.
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.
How to Unlock Restricted Movements with Trigger Point Therapy
- 1Search for and deactivate primary trigger points, which can also be latent. That will give you relief and enable the other ones to calm down.
- 2Explore and deactivate secondary central trigger points.
- 3Release both sides, starting with the side that is most symptomatic. Repeat the most symptomatic side twice.
- 4Explore and deactivate satellite and attachment trigger points.
- 5Don't try to completely eliminate the trigger points in one session. If they are chronic it may take a few days or sessions.
- 6Complete 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.
- 7Stay well-hydrated.
- 8Consider 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.
Use this handy guide to help you understand trigger point referral patterns and to help you relieve myofascial pain symptoms. There are also many different self-myofascial release tools including our favourite family of RAD products.