Trigger point massage, sometimes called neuromuscular therapy, is a very effective way to address those pesky knots that give you both pain at the trigger point itself and often at distant, apparently unrelated areas in your body.
You can recognize a trigger point by the way it responds to direct pressure. A trigger point will feel like a little nodule, and it will be tender to the touch, and it may generate discomfort in a different area than where the trigger point is. To get a little more technical, in their groundbreaking book on myofascial pain and trigger points, Travel & Simons define a trigger point as, “a hyperirritable spot in skeletal muscle that is associated with a hypersensitive palpable nodule in a taut band. The spot is painful on compression and can give rise to characteristic referred pain, referred tenderness, motor dysfunction, and autonomic phenomena.:”
Travel & Simons’ books Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual; Vol. 1. The Upper Half of Body and Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual; Vol. 2., The Lower Extremities are the definitive medical books on trigger points.
Clair Davies’ The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief is an outstanding trigger-point self-care book (which I also use as a professional reference book).
I typically use trigger point therapy as part of an orthopedic massage session. Sometimes, I won’t even have to use the neuromuscular trigger point work I was taught, since I often find that the myofascial area-preparation work that is included in an orthopedic massage session often resolves a trigger point without working directly on it. Still, many of my clients appreciate a full-on trigger point session, and I am happy to oblige them.