Trigger Points : What are They?

By: Eryn Hays, Licensed Massage Therapist


Many who receive massage have heard the term before, but what exactly is a trigger point and how does massage influence these points?

Trigger Point Therapy was mostly influenced by Janet Travell in the 1950s who coined the term "myofascial trigger points" when she discovered the referral patterns that trigger points had.

A trigger point, by definition, is a condensed "knot" that is located between the fascia and the muscle. The main indication of a trigger point is when it is pressed and the pain is refers to another area in the body. For example, if someone presses on a knot in your neck, and it refers to a point in your head where you often get headaches, then that spot on your neck may be the cause of that headache. The theory behind why the point refers is because of the fascial patterns that exist within our body, and the pain refers to these points because of how the fascia is constructed. The exact cause of trigger points is still being studied, but many researchers believe that is is caused by our bodily habits, such as posture, how we sleep, how we work out, etc.

In massage, the goal of trigger point therapy is to break up the myofascial trigger points and prevent them from reappearing. The most common method is compression, where we hold the point for as little as 30 seconds up to 2 minutes until we feel the trigger point 'dissolve'. Once the trigger point is completely dissolved, then the goal is to determine which body pattern created the trigger point so that we can give advice on how to prevent the trigger point from reappearing.

Trigger Point Therapy still has much research going into it, but when it comes to chronic pain or an injury, it seems as if it has a huge impact. Though the process itself can be very painful, especially since many trigger points lead to pain that causes bodily issues, the process has helped multiple people with their chronic conditions.


Eryn Hays L.M.T., A.M.T.A. member, is certified in Quantum Shiastu, Trigger Point Therapy, Myofascial Release Technique, CranioSacral, and Thai Massage. Her techniques are used in order to help the body release any blockage that might be occurring within the client. Whether this is within the muscular, nervous, or energetic system, her goal is to find the root of the problem and prevent the blockage from reappearing again and to create a whole body health experience.



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