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Talking Trigger Points

Updated: Nov 8

The past several days I've been having some neck and shoulder pain. I am thinking that maybe during one of my sessions I wasn't mindful of my body mechanics & I'm paying the price now 😖 I pressed around on the back of my neck and used my Theragun attempting to find some sort of relief, but just wasn't quite finding it.


This morning I decided to go back to my roots and opened up one of the books we used in school. The exact page I opened up to happened to be a trigger point guide for the scalenes. Let me explain what that means exactly.


A trigger point is a sensitive area in muscle that can produce pain when pressed and will typically refer pain to another area of the body. The scalenes are 3 smaller muscles located on the sides of your neck. They connect to the cervical vertebrae (neck bones) & into your first 2 ribs just below your clavicle (collar bone).


The trigger point guide I opened the book up to tells you where some common trigger point locations are and where they would refer pain. Sure enough, the scalenes presented exactly where I have been experiencing pain into my shoulder and down my arm.

I felt my way around and confirmed that a trigger point in my scalenes might be the origination of this pain I've been experiencing the past few days. Pressing on this point produced a feel good pain along where the book said it would and even provided a little relief after I was finished.


I think this story is a great example of how I am still learning. For the benefit of both me and my clients, I will never pretend to know something I don’t actually know. I do not currently advertise trigger point therapy because I’m not well versed enough to feel confident in providing this specific service.


Because a general massage covers most areas of the body, it would probably naturally help with some trigger points. However, some trigger points are a little more tricky and require special attention. Addressing a trigger point requires being able to identify its possible locations based on information the client gives about where the pain he or she is feeling is located. Luckily, there are charts that make this task easier, but you definitely want to be sure you are seeing someone who knows what they are doing. Many trigger points, like the ones in the scalenes, can be located around some very sensitive structures. Disrupting these structures can actually cause more damage, so be sure you trust who you are working with.


I think the following quote sums it up nicely.


"When in doubt, it is much better to just have a great massage than bad trigger point therapy. There is plenty of overlap between decent trigger point therapy and an ordinary pleasant massage. So mainly just try to find a massage therapist whose style you love." [1]




[1] Basic Self-Massage Tips for Myofascial Trigger Points

Learn how to massage your own trigger points (muscle knots):

https://www.painscience.com/articles/self-massage.php

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