Trigger Points - what are they and how can they be treated?

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Trigger Points – what are they?

Trigger points are small spots/areas located within a muscle that become painful and tender when stretching & over exerting. 

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What causes Trigger Points?

They are typically caused by poor posture or a muscle weakness, often when repeatedly working a specific muscle group over and over. An acute muscle injury or continual muscle stress may lead to the development of trigger points. For example, a spot within or near a strained muscle may become a trigger point. Stress and anxiety can also cause spots to become irritated.


There are 2 types of Trigger Points:

Active –  Meaning you will usually experience pain when resting with the particular area being tender to palpate.

Latent –  Meaning you do not have any immediate pain, however you may become aware of a latent trigger point when direct pressure is applied to the specific area.


Assessment of Trigger Points: 

Use the Acronym STAR.

S = Sensitivity

T = Texture

A = Asymmetry

R = Range of Movement

  • If there is 2/3 which are abnormal then a trigger point can be assumed


Treatment of Trigger Points: 


  • Superficial Heat
  • Laser Therapy
  • Ultrasound
  • Dry Needling
  • Electrical Stimulation



  • Muscle Energy Technique
  • Active Release
  • Positional Release

Active Release Technique:

Sustained pressure stimulates the supraspinal pathway to release inhibitory neurotransmitters. This causes a reduction in muscle tone and breaks down adhesions.

  1. Pressure is applied over the area of the trigger point with the muscle in a shortened position.
  2. The opposite is then applied, working on the lengthened position.
  3. This can be repeated 3-5 times.


Muscle Energy Technique:

To improve range of movement we use a method of post-isometric relaxation.

  1. The trigger point area is taken into a lengthened position until a bind is felt. (A bind is the feel of the muscle just before the stretch).
  2. The muscle should then produce a contraction against the applied force from your therapist at approx.
  3. After 10 seconds, the muscle is taken into a further stretch.
  4. This is then repeated 3-6 times until the target muscle allows for a normal range of movement.


If you are struggling with a muscle imbalance/weakness or you feel you have particularly tender areas in your muscle to touch, it is likely you will benefit from trigger release therapy. If you would like FREE advice from our specialist before you decide on your next steps, please reach out to us using our online service and we will be more than happy to help!

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