Dealing With Trigger Points

What’s a trigger point? Well, according to Wikipedia, a trigger point is “pain related to a discrete, irritable point in skeletal muscle or fascia, not caused by acute local trauma, inflammation, degeneration, neoplasm or infection.”

Well, now, see, that’s a lot of words adding up to not much. You still don’t know what a trigger point is, if you have trigger points, or, if you do, what to do about them.

But never fear; Bette’s here. Thanks to my dragging adrenal glands, I KNOW about trigger points. Hoo, boy, do I know!

So let’s talk about how to know if you have trigger points and what to do about them if you do.

How to find trigger points

Start by poking the big muscle in your patooty, where trigger points are common. Poke around a little and see if you land on a spot that gets your full, eye-crossing attention, as in “ouch, ouch, ouch.”

But while you’re “ouching” away, you’ll realize it’s a feel-good kind of pain. When you stub your toe, for instance, it hurts, but there’s no feed-good about it. It just hurts, and it will for a while.

Trigger points are different. When your poking around lands you on a trigger point, you somehow know you’re onto something. And once you learn how to do a good poke, the pain just goes away.

And poking yourself is useful. Trigger points, sometimes called knots, prevent blood flow, and you need to keep your blood moving along.

Trigger points are one way your body asks for help.

Three ways to deal with trigger points

A massage therapist who truly understands trigger points is gold. And rare–also like gold.

You have to ask around. Asking the therapist about trigger points isn’t the way to go. Most therapists, having heard the term in massage school, will assure you that you’re in good hands. Well, maybe not.

When I lived in Tucson, I had a fabulous massage therapist, Glenn Kippes. He could make the lame walk. Really. I sent several friends there; all had just about abandoned hope, but he made them whole again. (If you live near Tucson, go see Glenn, and tell him Bette sent you.)

Then I moved. I’ve seen a lot of massage therapists since the move, got hurt every time, and never went back.

Be careful. Get references from people who’ve been where you are. Don’t believe what you read on Yelp. Etc.

Do-it-yourself massage
Using a percussion massager (mine is from Homedics), put it on the trigger point and let it “sit” there for a slow count to twenty–or until you itch, which means the blood is flowing again. Move the massager an inch or two and let it “sit” again. Keep it up until you can’t stand the itching anymore. Then stop and scratch to your heart’s content. And start again.

You’ll notice a difference. At first, the relief won’t last for more than a day or two, but your body will move more easily, and won’t be so cranky. And the “fix” will last longer with each repeat.

And don’t forget ice
Make ice your best friend. Heat seems to cement trigger points in place, so, even though it may feel good at the time, don’t even think about it.

Now, ice doesn’t sound friendly, but if your adrenal glands are dragging bottom, ice will feel really good.

Get some ice packs (I got mine at and stick them in the freezer.

To use them, cover the ice pack with a towel (or something) and put it to work. Sit on it while you’re at your desk. Put it around your neck, on your back, wherever. Make it your TV buddy.

After a car accident, Glenn told me to line up ice packs on my bed before I went to bed at night, and climb on board. The ice slowly healed my back and actually helped me to sleep better.

Now, years later, I keep my freezer stocked with ice packs. If I’m not sleeping well, I just go get an ice pack. It always helps.

So, there are three things you can do that are a lot better than suffering.

God is good,
Bette Dowdell

About the author: Bette is all about determination. A month before her first birthday, a drunk driver smashed into her parents’ car, and she ended up with a concussion. The concussion put her endocrine system (the thyroid and the rest of the gang) pretty much out of business. Well, that system controls all of health, life was a mess, but doctors didn’t help. So, she got her Oh-Yeah! attitude in gear and researched her way out. Now she writes about how your body works and what you can do to make it work better. Good, eh? Subscribe to her free health e-mails at

The content of the Too Pooped To Participate blog is provided as general information only.

© by Bette Dowdell. All rights reserved

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