We are going to be doing our weekly tip today and our weekly tip is all about the following: what is a trigger point? This is a subject that I’ve recently learned many people don’t understand, so I’m going to break it down in more detail for you. In order to do that, I’m going to start by explaining the structure of the muscle.
First we are going to take any muscle and cut it in half to look at the cross-section. The muscle has the outer fascial layer with various muscle bundles inside and within each of them, there is a muscle fiber. This is further composed of muscle fibrils. I want you to realize this is a chamber device so your muscle bundles and fibrils go in and out as the muscle contracts. Sometimes the fascial layer doesn’t allow the muscle tissue to slide. This is called fascial work. However, trigger point work is when the muscle tissue inside can’t contract and gets stuck in a locked position. So as the other areas of the muscles start to slide, that particular contractile unit gets stuck and it bunches up. I will give you an easy definition: a trigger point is a muscle tissue that is no longer functioning properly. That’s it. It’s bunching up so it’s not contracting properly.
For trigger point work, you have to understand that this one spot can do damage to many different areas. This can decrease the functionality of the whole muscle tissue. It will start compensating by asking the other areas to do more work than they have to. This becomes a cascading approach. So once you start to compensate, you are asking the other muscles to do more work they are not supposed to be doing, which will in turn make them fatigue faster. Understanding what is the bigger picture of the trigger point, lets now understand what it does.
When the muscle starts to add more compensation patterns, we have to get the core of this whole problem to start giving up. So now we have to start doing trigger point work by touching this area with a ball, a hand, or any other device. You will know when you hit it, because it refers pain to a different part of the body. The pain will never be in the exact spot because there are many different referral points for the trigger point to go to. It also does not have to necessarily refer pain. A bound part of the muscle tissue can be considered a trigger point. So how do you deal with it?
You can deal with it by pushing and holding it, which will result in a discomforting sensation or referred pain. The other thing to do is the ‘milk’ the trigger point so you work in the direction it moves within the muscle. You will hit the point and roll across it in the pattern of the muscle. Two ways you can clear a trigger point are to either hold it and let it relax, or move it through its natural range-of-motion.
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