Friday, May 22, 2009

Trigger Points Explained

If you've been around athletics and training for any extended time you have heard the term trigger point at some point. What exactly is a trigger point and are there different kinds?

Trigger points are defined as small palpable nodules in the muscle belly. They usually manifest in postural muscles that are under a lot of repetitive activity. They tend to have a radiating type of pain and don't usually hurt at the site of the trigger point.
This is in opposite of what are called tender points. Tender points are usually at the insertion of the muscle belly (think tendon).
Tender points also do not radiate. Fibromayalgia has characteristically been associated with tender points.

Both trigger and tender points arise when the muscle suffers repetitive activity and oxygen can't get into the muscle as well as it should. So metabolic waste builds up and produces the culprit.

There seems to be two kinds of trigger points, active and passive. Active is when you know your experiencing pain. There is a definite referral pattern, and can even have resultant muscle weakness and decreased range of motion(ROM). The other is passive. In my opinion, the passive is more detrimental to the athlete. Passive trigger points are points that you don't even realize you have, but they are causing dysfunction in the body. They can be shutting down or decreasing strength in other muscles or slowly hindering ROM.

Some examples. Trigger points in the infraspinatous can inhibit the deltoid. TP's in the upper trap can inhibit the lower trap. Tp's in the pec major can inhibit the subscapularis. Trigger points in the peroneal muscles can compromise function of the triceps surae. This is just a tiny number of the inter relationship between muscle groups.

So getting some good quality muscle and movement done by a trained therapist is a must. When you figure out your pattern, a well designed exercise program of movement and self myofascial work can be maintained to keep your body running on full cylinders.

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