Trigger Points and What You Need To Know

What are trigger points?

Trigger points are contracted “knots” found in the muscle that cause pain. At the microscopic level, many sarcomeres or muscle units are contracted into one small area of the muscle.


How do you get trigger points?

Trigger points come from stressed or injured muscles. Here are examples of how trigger points can develop:

  • Repetitive overuse or performing the same movements on a daily basis can cause stress within the muscle.
  • Sustained loading such as heaving lifting
  • Poor posture
  • Direct injury to the muscle
  • Prolonged bed rest or sitting

Trigger points can hinder how we move and decrease efficiency of the muscle.

How do I know if I have trigger points?

Trigger points can be discovered via palpation. Palpation is a special technique where physical therapists use their hands to assess the body. Here are common characteristics of trigger points:

  • Hard consistency
  • Referred pain is felt, meaning that the pain is not felt right on the area – instead it is felt close to the area
  • Muscle twitch can be seen when touched

How do you treat trigger points?

One way to treat trigger points is through a trigger point pressure release. This technique simply requires localized pressure onto the problem area until the trigger point is “released” and the muscle softens.


Another common way that trigger points can be treated is through the Graston technique where a blunt metal object is used to mobilize and break up problem areas in the soft tissue.  Both methods are preferably done by a medical professional who is certified in the Graston technique, such as a physical or massage therapist, so that not only can they accurately assess and treat the trigger points, but also educate you on how to prevent future issues.

Contact your Graston Certified Physical Therapist @ Vital Step for more information on treatment options!