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Treating Trigger Points

Updated: Aug 3, 2019

Have you experienced that pesky 'knot' between the shoulder blades, or the rhomboids for those that like anatomy terms?

Trigger point therapy has it's benefits relieving the tension of a muscle under strain. It is important to understand:

  • Why is this trigger point occurring?

  • What specific muscle are we treating?

  • How do we effectively treat this trigger point?

  • What is occurring in my body (cause and effect)?

Treating this trigger point can cause temporary relief, but what is causing this? This muscle is often under strain from posterior muscles over lengthening and anterior muscles shortening.

Targeting the 'knot' directly by means of massage, trigger point therapy, acupuncture or ultrasound is treating the symptom and not the source. Proceed with caution, this provides a temporary relief. Further lengthening this muscle will create continued pain and the trigger point will return.

The shoulder stabilizes as a pulley system of four parts. You will find this pain pattern results in 3:1 ratio of pull and the rhomboids and lower trapezius are on the loosing hand of this battle.

The recognizable posture of the shoulders rounded forward and hunched over tells our specialists that your scapula is not sitting comfortably in resting position and you are most likely experiencing discomfort. This vulnerable position can cause an unnatural wear and tear to the shoulder capsule and injuries to the rotator cuff or labrum can occur.

Addressing the other three muscle groups to the 4 part pulley system can assist in self care and improve shoulder strength and posture;

  • Chest: Pectoralis major

  • Lateral Back: Latissimus dorsi, teres major and serratus anterior

  • Neck (shoulder elevation): Levator Scapula, scalenes and pectoralis minor

Treating these muscles can indirectly curb the intensity of pain occurring in the rhomboid trigger point. Once this is attempted you may still want to address the trigger point directly through manual pressure with a lacrosse or tennis ball. To release the localized trigger point apply a direct pressure that varies from a 7 to 10 on your pain scale. Maintain static pressure to the trigger point until the tissue releases or softens, then increase pressure to reach new threshold again. The angle of the pressure may change as the sarcomeres of the muscle begin to release, adjust as needed to address different fibers. On average you will maintain pressure for 30 to 90 seconds. *Remember your goal is to flatten out the trigger point but this is further lengthening the already lengthened muscle. Follow up with a specialist to address if this pain is reoccurring for you.

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