Trigger Points & Your Horse

Ever watched me work and wonder why I stay on one point/area for a long time without textaroundmuch movement? What exactly do I mean when I talk about adhesions/ knots or reactive points?

This is where I have located an area of tension also known as a trigger point.

But what are they?

A trigger point is a hyperirritable spot associated with a tight band of skeletal muscle that is painful on compression or muscle contraction. Some of the fibres in this tight band are ‘stuck’ in contraction and therefore the overall effectiveness of that muscle is reduced. trigger-pointInterestingly there can also be ‘referred pain’ from a trigger point, a neurological phenomenon that can result in sciatica, chronic jaw pain, toothache and even appendicitis like pain!

Most people at some point have felt them around their shoulders or lower back.  A “muscle knot” is an example of a trigger point: a small patch of muscle tissue in spasm.



When you say that you have “muscle knots,” you are talking about myofascial trigger points.

There are no actual knots involved, of course — it just feels like it. Although their true nature is uncertain, the main theory is that a trigger point (TrP) is a small patch of tightly contracted muscle, an isolated spasm affecting just a tiny patch of muscle tissue (not a whole-muscle spasm like a “charlie horse”). In theory, that small patch of muscle chokes off its own blood supply, which irritates it even more — a vicious cycle called a “metabolic crisis.” The swampy metabolic situation is why I like to think of it as sick muscle syndrome.

A few trigger points here and there is usually just an annoyance. Many bad ones is a syndrome: myofascial pain syndrome (MPS).

TrPs can be vicious. They can cause far more discomfort than most people believe is possible. Its bark is much louder than its bite, but the bark can be extremely loud. It can also be a surprisingly weird bark (trigger points can generate some odd sensations).


Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain disorder. In myofascial pain syndrome, pressure on sensitive points in your muscles (trigger points) causes pain in seemingly unrelated parts of your body. This is called referred pain.                                                 Excerpt from


How do they occur?

The jury is out on this as there are many theories but none are supported by strong evidence. Several theories blame overuse resulting in chronic shortening of the fibers in the affected area and thus loss of oxygen and nutrient supply and localised increased metabolic demand.

It is likely that they often occur due to a variety of factors:

  • Muscle overuse/strain
  • Mechanical overload
  • Direct trauma
  • Chronic muscle contraction (shortening)
  • Possible vitamin/ nutritional deficiencies


How does massage work?

Massage breaks into the self-sustaining vicious circle that has kept the muscle fibers contracted, allowing them to regain function. It also acts to increase the circulation, which has been restricted in the immediate area by the contracted fibers, thus enabling oxygen and nutrients to flow to the spot. Photonic Red Light  therapy also helps to break up the deeper adhesions.

If I find an area that is repeatedly affected then I will often give you a tennis ball and show you how to use it to release the fibers between any maintenance sessions.


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