How Trigger Point Treatment Stops Stubborn Pain

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What is trigger point treatment?
A trigger point is basically a ‘knot’ in your muscle. This chunk of muscle fibers are stuck in contraction and refuse to relax. This knot may or may not hurt, but they do refer pain elsewhere, usually an adjacent joint or nerve.

ankle pain trigger point massage theracane soleus inside leg

Sooo….The reason my relentless foot treatments (over a years worth) were not working was because I was massaging, icing, resting, treating the wrong spot.

My foot pain was actually being referred, mostly, from my calf muscles. ”soleusThe way physicians apply trigger point treatment is with either an injection of procaine, mild anesthetic or stretch. These methods if done correctly will release the knot, trigger point and relieve the pain.

Unfortunately, the injection procedure is difficult to administer correctly, risk damaging other nerves. It can be difficult to find a doctor who properly administers trigger point treatment injections.

The other method is to stretch the muscle into releasing the knot. This is also difficult to do properly. Imagine a knot as a tight contracted bundle of muscle. This causes the muscle strands on either side of the knot to be OVER-STRETCHED. ”rectus
I = Muscle Fibers
+ = The attachment of the muscle at the joint
- = The space between muscle units

Normal muscle at rest

Normal muscle when you contract / flex

Muscle with a trigger point (knot)
+I---I---I---I---I---IIIIII---I---I---I +

Stretching a muscle with a trigger point, OUCH
+I------I------I------IIIII------I------I +

The problem with doing a stretch of your entire muscle is that the already stretched micro-fibers surrounding the trigger point become over stretched. This causes a stretch reflex that causes the trigger point to contract even harder.

Physicians use a technique that is difficult to do properly called a spray and stretch. The idea is that a refrigerant spray is used to distract the muscle while a myofacial stretch is administered.

So How do we treat these darn things!?
Trigger points are extremely resilient and often will never simply, ‘get better’. Trigger point knots can last an entire lifetime and are even detectable after death up until rigor mortis sets in.

I would not recommend simply waiting for trigger points to get better.

The best method for trigger point treatment at home is with a targeted pressure massage. Imagine pushing down on a ball of clay, what happens?
It flattens out and stretches, right.


trigger point extensor hallucis longus muscle find pain

How to Treat Trigger Points At Home

The red region indicates the likely pain pattern location you will experience from these muscles. The green circles are the trigger point location . This is where you need to massage in order to relieve the pain. Check out the trigger point charts page for more details regarding muscle locations and where to get wall charts and books.

How do you identify a trigger point?
Muscles should not be painful to the touch. Not including a post workout soreness known as DOMS. A trigger point is very tender and painful to the touch. Pressing on a trigger point may shoot pain to the area it refers pain too. Once you have found the point there are a number of trigger point treatment guidelines to keep in mind.


  • Don’t use static pressure; rather use a deep stroking massage.
  • Use trigger point tools to prevent over working your fingers.
  • Massage in short strokes in a single direction.
  • Use a rhythm of about 1 second per stroke.
  • Work on one spot for just 30 seconds at a time.
  • Repeat treatment 3-10 times per day.
  • Aim for a pain level of 7/10. It should be uncomfortable, not excruciating.
  • If your condition does not improve you may need to work another spot.

How long will it take to fully recover?
Assuming trigger points are the only issue treatment ranges from a single session to a number of weeks. Fresh pains typically recover very quickly while longstanding chronic pains take consistent effort. Taking steps to prevent trigger points from forming is the best long-term solution. Prevention is a combination of proper posture and ergonomics, nutrition, body-weight, correct shoes and general relaxation.

Still Having Trouble?
Have a great tip?
Share your comments and questions here!

Not seeing results? Have a question about your specific problem? Trigger Point Treatment is a new pain relief technique for most people. I would be happy to assist you!

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