In the first part of this article we spoke at length about what trigger point therapy is and how we can do trigger point therpy on ourselves, with a fair degree of success. For details and pictures describing the why and the how, take a look at part one.
In this article (part two) we shall pick out the top three trigger points in the human body. now this is harder than you might think, as there are hundreds of trigger points. So what i did, in order to narrow the field down to just three was to think to myself what would I do if I could only pick three trigger points for self massage.
The three points which I came up with are the levator scapulae, which is a common point which helps to treat neck, trapezius and upper back pain and posture; the masseter which is a vital point for treatingtemporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ), facial neuralgia, pain in the mouth, throat and head; iliopsoas which is one of the key points, for treating hip and core imbalances, stiffness and aches.
So with these three points we can treat our heads neck, upper back and hips.
Ok it’s not perfect, but a tleast these can be your go to points, in case of head, jaw, neck, upper back and hip pain, stiffness and discomfort.
1. Levator Scapulae
Just below the upper trapezius lies the levator scapulae. This muscle is in the transverse process, which lies along the four top vertebrae of the neck, and it inserts into the upper shoulder blade. Imbalances here are often connected with trapezius imbalances and result in such symptoms as neck pain, pain along the border of the inner shoulder blade, and the rear part of the shoulder joint. Imbalances here might also effect the movement of the head, resulting in a lopsided positioning of the head.
By and large the trigger points here can be reached by oneself, via thumb and forefinger manipulation, foam roller and or hard ball. Just like the trapezius, a robust muscle and requires some fairly heavy handed kneading is required in order to produce a good result.
Picture courtesy of Be Richard
The masseter muscles are found on the side of the face, and this squared muscle ties in from the cheekbone down to the lower jaw bone. In action, the masseter is necessary for chewing. However, imbalances often occur in the jaw area, these include Temporomandibular Syndrome (TMJ), Bruxism and Jaw Clenching. These are extremely common conditions and they can be quite irritating. Symptoms can include a cracking sound in the jaw, irritating jaw clenching, toothache and even headache.
The trigger point A is found just above the masseter muscle and about one inch away from the top of the ear. Press and hold for about a minute, relax and then pressure again for about a minute. The trigger point B is found just under the front of the cheekbone. The trigger point C is found in the lower masseter muscle and the trigger point D is found at the very bottom of the masseter muscle, on the edge of the jaw.
The key to success with releasing tension in the masseter region is to press with the finger or knuckle and seek an area of tension. You will know when you find it as it will have a strong sensation as you press it.
Each of the points mentioned above effect different symptoms as follows:
A). Releases cheek pain and TMJ pain and restriction.
B). Sinusitis related upper cheekbone pain and pain the molars.
C). Jaw and mandibular pain and lower molar pain.
D). Jaw, mandibular pain and pain over the eyebrow.
The Iliopsoas is the term used to refer to the group of muscles, broadly labelled by the psoas major and the iliacus. Take a look at the diagram below and we can see how many muscles here and how important they are from the point of view of hip flexion, rotation and general postural support.
Conditions referred from an imbalance, in this region, are considerable. Major imbalances include lower back pain, hip pain, hip immobility, core imbalances, shoulder pain, knee pain, possible pain and restriction of movement in nearly any body part.
The First thing to consider, is that the Iliopsoas is required for good posture and hip mobility. And of course in today’s society where most people sit continually, restriction will take place in this muscle group. Most of us, who sit much of the time, can testify to general stiffness of the torso and lower back pain, which is the first major set of symptoms.
Secondly, the Iliopsoas connects in with the Iliotibial tract (usually referred to as the Iliotibial band – ITB) and the Tensor Fasciae latae (TFL). As we shall see in the following two trigger points, these two, the ITB and the TFl result in a great deal of imbalances.
Balancing the Iliopsoas, is vital along with the ITB and the TFl. The Iliopsoas is a major hip flexor and external rotator, in simple terms it helps to move the hips and also it gives support to our posture.
The Iliopsoas muscle group can demonstrate imbalance, either in a vertical or horizontal place. Meaning that pain can either be an up or down type of pain, or it can be a pain which transmits from one side of the body to the other. Iliopsoas pain, often demonstrates itself as a phantom type pain which keeps shifting across the torso, and in today’s sedentary world aches and pains originating from the iliopsoas, area are very common indeed.
Working on the iliopsoas region requires slow steady work on releasing the trigger points. After the major tensions have been relieved only then can stretching and remedial movements be added to the mix.