Trigger Point Release Therapy

Freedom of Movement

Trigger Point Therapy was pioneered and developed in this country by Dr. Janet Travell, President John F. Kennedy’s personal physician during his years of persistent back pain. Today it is commonly referred to as Neuromuscular Therapy.

A trigger point is a hyperirritable tender spot in an abused muscle that refers pain (“triggers” pain) to other muscles. This is why the pain in your head may be coming from a neck muscle and the pain in your neck from a shoulder muscle and the pain in your low back from a hip muscle.

If the trigger points are not treated, they can be the culprits in lingering pain even after an injury has healed, and the reason why the headache, neckache, and backache keep returning year after year. Some of the causes of trigger point activity in your muscles are stress, excessive chilling, injury, overuse, strain, as well as chemical, drugs, alcohol, and environmental pollutants.

Active trigger points keep the muscles tight, restricting blood flow and compressing nerves perpetuating a vicious pain-spasm cycle in the muscles. The effect of decreased flexibility limits movement encouraging postural patterns which may sustain the cycle for years. Trigger Point Release Therapy is a valuable component of preventive as well as rehabilitative care.

The various neuromuscular techniques to release trigger points and restore movement are being studied today by many health care professionals. Some of the neuromuscular therapy techniques, also referred to as neuromuscular re-education, are:

  • Joint and spinal manipulation (by Doctors)
  • Spray and stretch (by Physical Therapists)
  • Frictioning across the muscle fibers and ends of muscles
  • Shaking, stroking, and stretching of muscles and fascia
  • Joint movements, isometric exercises and stretching
  • Direct pinpoint pressure on the trigger point
  • Release of associated skin, tendon, and ligament trigger points
  • Posture and gait analysis and re-organization
  • Myofascial Release
  • Pro-Gravity Technique
  • Fascial Smoothing

Everyone is a unique individual. No two bodies are alike. Like fingerprints, each body is different. For some people one technique will work very well. For others, a combination of techniques or a completely different technique or process is needed. Most skilled health care professionals are educated to know when to refer a patient for another form of therapy.

Many doctors are referring patients to massage therapists today because some massage schools are increasing their hours and specifically training students in triggerpoint therapy and the techniques listed above. One such school is the Colorado Institute of Massage Therapy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Institute’s nationally recognized program is approved by the American Massage Therapy Commission and the Colorado Department of Higher Education, Division of Private Occupational Schools.

Graduates of our 850 hour program study the most respected manuals written on trigger point therapy by Dr. Janet Travell and Dr. David Simon. Dr. Travell was highly respected for the referred pain patterns and trigger point locations she has charted after years of study and research with patients in her practice.

Trigger Point Release Therapy is a system of Neuromuscular Massage Therapy developed by the Colorado Institute of Massage Therapy to refer to their specialized program of study. Massage Therapists trained in this process master a wide range of techniques to release trigger points. This enables them to better serve the diversity of people seen in private practice. The client is referred to as a “participant” in therapy because client involvement is essential if the process is to successfully restore and maintain freedom of movement.

References: Myofascial Pain and dysfunction, The Trigger Point Manual, Volume 1-2.

Dr. Janet Travell, Dr. David Simon, Williams and Wilkins Publishing Company

Institute Trigger Point Release Therapy Manuals, Togi Kinnaman, copyright 1985.

Author Togi Kinamman, founder and former president of the Colorado Institute of Massage Therapy, and a nationally-recognized workshop leader on Trigger Point Release Therapy, is currently involved in Massage Therapy research and writing manuals for the Institute and for the profession of Massage Therapy. She is continually researching and developing new trigger point release techniques such as, Pro-Gravity technique, Fascial Smoothing, and Neuro Tap and Stroke. Other projects include Massage Therapy for neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy and cerebral vascular accident (stroke).