There are at least 600 muscles in the human body. In the major muscle groups, anyone can develop myofascial trigger points. Trigger points are irritated nerve endings that overstimulate tender areas of muscles, presenting as pain, stiffness and spasms. They are usually located at the base of the skull, upper back and neck, shoulders, forearms, and hips, and they are typically not painful until pressure is applied to the area.
There are two types of trigger points:
- Active trigger points, which cause severe and sometimes debilitating pain
- Passive trigger points, which cause stiffness and restricted movement
Both types of trigger points can cause headaches, visual problems, dizziness, muscle weakness, slow reaction time, acute and chronic pain, fatigue, limited joint range of motion, loss of coordination. They can come from injuries, poor sleeping position, overwork, sleep deprivation, chronic tension, prolonged cold exposure, emotional stress, intense exercise, and nutritional deficiency/toxicity.
To find a trigger point, take a few moments and mentally scan the body for tense areas and then feel for a tight hard band of tense muscle. Locate the spot of maximum tenderness with minimum pressure.
Treating trigger points:
- Press slowly but firmly and hold for 6 – 10 seconds.
- Massage the area in a circular fashion.
- Breathe out on the area of tension.
- Visualize the trigger point melting like butter.
Do this 1 – 2 times per day.
Prevention of trigger points:
- Take short, frequent work breaks to stretch, move, relieve tension
- Drink plenty of cool, pure water.
- Maintain good postural habits.
- Get into a regular exercise routine.
- Avoid things that create tension (heavy briefcases, tight clothing, dehydration, sedentary posture, shallow breathing, low blood sugar).
- Get your workspace evaluated for proper ergonomics.