Trigger Point Massage is a bodywork technique that involves the applying of pressure to tender muscle tissue in order to relieve pain and dysfunction in other parts of the body. It may also be called myofascial (myo meaning muscle, fascial meaning connective therapy) Trigger Point Massage. Myotherapy, developed by Bonnie Prudden, is a related type of Trigger Point Massage.
Trigger Point Massage was developed by Dr. Janet Travell in the United States in the 1940s. Through her work and events in her personal life, Travell advanced the theory that pain experienced in one part of the body is actually caused by an injury or dysfunction in another part of the body. Ultimately, she mapped what she termed the body’s trigger points and the manner in which pain radiates to the rest of the body. Travell’s work came to national attention when she treated President John F. Kennedy for his back pain.
According to the therapy, trigger points can result from birth trauma, an injury sustained in a fall or accident, poor posture, or overexertion. During times of physical or emotional stress, the points cause muscles to spasm. Travell’s therapy called for the injection of saline (a salt solution) and procaine (also known as Novocaine, an anesthetic) into the trigger point. Although beneficial in the relief of pain, the injections are a painful procedure for some people.
Trigger Point Massage is said to interrupt the neural signals that cause both the trigger point and the pain. The object is to eliminate pain and to re-educate the muscles into pain-free habits. In this manner, the swelling and stiffness of neuromuscular pain is reduced, range of motion is increased, and flexibility and coordination are improved. The therapy can also relieve tension and improve circulation.