We’ve heard about knots or maybe even felt them in our own muscles, but what exactly are they and how do they form?
Introducing trigger points
The official name of a knot is trigger point. They can feel like pebbles or knots , sometimes they sound crunchy, but they are always painful when pressed. Trigger points can form in almost all the muscles in our body. In my experience, the most common place to find them is along the edge of the shoulder blade. In a previous blog I explained why this area is prone to developing trigger points. My clients describe it as “deep, radiating pain,” or “it’s like there is a knife in my back.” Sometimes they feel that pain constantly or only in certain positions, but the one common complaint is that it hurts.
Trigger points- a very short history on what you need to know
Believe it or not, trigger points have a long history, admittedly not very exciting except to the scientists who study them! The first research paper on trigger points was written in 1841, but they weren’t yet called trigger points. In 1940 they were named trigger points, but it was in 1952 that Dr. Janet Travell began the extensive research on trigger points that most practitioners follow today. Later, Dr. Travell became the White House doctor when President Kennedy was in office. That’s always good to know if the subject of trigger points come up in conversation!
How do they form?
With so many scientists studying them for such a long time, you can be sure their explanation is very complicated. Unless, of course, you remember terms from biology like ATP, actin/myosin, and sarcomeres. I am guessing most of us would like a simple explanation as to what is causing our pain.
Whenever there is an injury to a muscle, a change occurs in that muscle. The injury can be from many things, a car accident, sitting in front of a computer for too long, or from what falls under “misuse, abuse, or disuse” of a muscle. The injury triggers different chemicals to be released in the muscle. Normally these chemicals help the muscle move, but when there is an injury these chemicals are overproduced causing decreased oxygen in the muscle. Remember: the oxygen we breathe helps our muscles too. With less oxygen the excess chemicals cannot be removed from the muscle which then causes the muscle fiber to contract and shorten forming knots or trigger points.
I hope you have a better understanding of trigger points and how they form. In the next blog I’ll cover how to prevent them and what to do if you have them. If you have any questions please get in touch with me via the contact form on this website.