Aloha Sports Chiropractic

Trigger Point Massage for Sports Injuries

Have you ever wondered why some parts of your body hurt when you press on them, even though the pain seems to come from somewhere else? This is due to trigger points and trigger point therapy can help. 

As a registered trigger point therapist with over a decade of expertise, I frequently use this technique to treat sports injuries.

This approach not only aids in pain relief and increases mobility but also plays a crucial role in enhancing athletic performance. The massage helps release tension in people suffering from muscle pain by focusing on these trigger points.

In this blog post, I’ll explain what trigger point massage is, why it helps sports injuries, and how to use it for common injuries like tennis elbow, runner’s knee, and rotator cuff issues.

Understanding Trigger Points

A trigger point is a tight, irritable knot in muscle tissue that causes soreness, swelling, and decreased range of motion. Trigger points form for many reasons such as:
  • Overuse and strain injuries
  • Poor posture and muscle imbalances
  • Accidents and trauma to the tissues
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Chronic stress
You might develop a single trigger point or clusters of irritated knots bunched together. It causes pain and tenderness that radiates outward in a referral pattern. For example, a trigger in the upper back could extend between the shoulder blades. A calf triggering point can induce numbness that extends to the ankle. That radiating ache makes trigger points even more problematic and tricky to diagnose.

Common Symptoms of Trigger Points

Trigger points manifest them as sure signs, including
  • Localized soreness when touched
  • Muscle tightness and decreased flexibility
  • Muscle twitching and spasms
  • Sharp, stabbing pain
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Referral pain in surrounding areas
In athletes, trigger points reduce performance and contribute to improper biomechanics. It then causes abnormal wear and tear on the joints, ligaments, and tendons—setting you up for more chronic severe injuries.

Trigger Point Massage Therapy and Its Techniques

Trigger point therapy is a massage that applies targeted pressure to manually break up painful trigger points, says the American Massage Therapy Association. It releases muscle tension, improves circulation, relieves pain, and restores mobility to the injured area.

As a trigger point massage therapist, I use several protocols to deactivate the painful muscle knots in my clients:

1. Manual Release

I use my fingers, knuckles, and elbows to apply direct, sustained pressure to the trigger points. I hold this for 30 seconds up to a few minutes, pressing deeply into the tight muscle fibers.

This compression encourages fresh blood flow to the area and helps the muscle tissues relax. It may cause some initial discomfort, but my clients feel much better afterwards!

2. Massage Tools

I also use massage balls, rollers, and canes to allow clients to apply pressure to hard-to-reach spots between appointments. I teach them to slowly roll over the tense knots for 30-60 seconds to get a self-release of built-up tension.

3. Stretching

I give my clients gentle, therapeutic stretches to help loosen stiff, shortened muscles with trigger points. However, I caution them to avoid aggressive stretching, which could overstrain healing muscle tears.

4. Heat Therapy

I recommend that clients apply heat, such as heating pads, hot packs, or warm baths, before and after massage sessions. It boosts blood circulation to feed tense muscles. Heat therapy helps release knots when paired with massage.

5. Lifestyle Factors

I educate my clients on getting proper nutrients, staying hydrated, reducing stress, and resting injured tissues. These healthy habits help prevent and deactivate trigger points so clients feel better longer.

If massage pressure feels uncomfortable, I recommend my client communicate openly. I also advise them to drink plenty of water afterwards to flush out inflammation. My goal is for clients to keep making progress pain-free!

Related, Is trigger point therapy effective?

Let’s now discuss how trigger point massage for sports injuries works.

Trigger Point Massage for Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow, known medically as lateral epicondylitis, causes muscle pain and discomfort from overuse on the elbow’s outer edge. It’s common in racket sports players, golfers, and any activities involving repeated wrist motions. In tennis elbow, trigger points form in the wrist flexors and extensors connecting to the elbow. It causes:
  • Pain/tenderness on the elbow’s outer edge
  • Stabbing pain down the forearm
  • Weakened wrist and grip strength
  • Elbow stiffness/reduced range of motion

Treatment

  • Massage trigger points in the wrist flexors and extensors
  • Stretch and strengthen these muscles for relief
  • Tennis elbow straps provide support during activity
  • Apply ice packs to the elbow after play
Getting deep pressure on those sensitive trigger points can speed recovery and manage pain from this nagging injury!

Trigger Point Therapy for Runner's Knee

Runner’s knee, or patellofemoral pain syndrome, leads to anterior knee pain in running athletes from repetitive impact. The quadriceps and IT band can harbor trigger points that pull laterally on the kneecap. It causes improper tracking and compression pain. You may experience:
  • Dull, aching knee pain when walking upstairs
  • Knee stiffness/swelling after activity
  • Muscle weakness around the knees
  • Crepitus/crunching sounds in the knee

Treatment

  • Massage trigger points in quadriceps, IT band, hamstrings
  • Gentle foam rolling for self-myofascial release
  • Strengthen muscle imbalances causing improper pulling
  • Wear shock-absorbing shoes for cushioning
Releasing contracted trigger points helps dynamically stretch tissues, putting lateral stress on the knee joint. Less pull = less pain!

Trigger Point Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis

  • Trigger point massage focused on calf muscles and plantar fascia
  • Gentle calf stretching to relieve plantar fascia pull
  • Orthotics or shoe inserts providing arch support
  • Night splints keep calf/foot stretched
Release restrictive trigger points and adhesions pulling excessively on the plantar fascia. It alleviates overuse strain for reduced pain and inflammation.

Treatment

Trigger point massage requires clinical skills to deliver effectively and safely. Incorrect techniques or pressure can harm people with medical conditions. It can lead to pain, tissue damage, fractures, or swollen limbs. It is critical to utilize the proper technique and apply pressure precisely. It will help prevent any potential problems for those with medical conditions. Contraindications for TPMT include:
  • Anticoagulant medication usage puts patients at a higher bleeding/bruising risk
  • Advanced osteoporosis
  • Cancer and metastases
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Kidney disease or organ transplant history
  • Certain infections and site-specific inflammatory conditions
  • Pregnancy in first & third trimesters due to hormone-related ligament laxity
People who have a weakened immune system, are recovering from surgery, or suffer from chronic discomfort should exercise caution. Before participating in gentle sessions, obtaining a doctor’s approval is essential. I carefully screen patients during health history reviews to identify any precautions needing modification. Communication remains vital – I ask for continual feedback during sessions to avoid symptom aggravations. Staying adequately hydrated and avoiding rigorous exercise immediately after intensive TPMT also helps prevent adverse responses.

Trigger Point Massage for Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff is a group of fibers that help support the shoulder joint. These muscles can become strained from repetitive overhead movements in sports like swimming, baseball, and volleyball. It leads to rotator cuff tendinitis with inflammation/degeneration of these tendons. Trigger points limit shoulder mobility when formed in the rotator cuff muscles and the chest, neck, and upper back, You may feel:
  • Shoulder stiffness and reduced range of motion
  • Shoulder clicking/grinding (crepitus)
  • Difficulty lifting arm overhead or behind the back
  • Radiating pain down the arm

Treatment

  • Release trigger points in pecs, infraspinatus, teres minor
  • Stretch chest muscles, pulling shoulder forward
  • Strengthen rotator cuff muscles for stability
  • Adjust activity technique, putting less strain on the shoulder
Trigger point massage improves mobility by relaxing overactive tissues, limiting your range of motion. It gives injured tissues more space to heal. Related, Top reasons to consider trigger point massage

Trigger Point Massage for Shin Splints

Trigger Point Massage
Shin splints cause pain along the inner tibia bone from repetitive stress like running. They’re often due to muscle imbalances between stronger quads and weaker calf/foot muscles. This imbalance causes excess strain on the tibia bone’s connective tissue (periosteum)—trigger points form in the tibialis muscles, which accelerate dysfunction. Symptoms include:
  • Sharp shin pain when walking/running
  • Inner shin tenderness and possible swelling
  • Foot overpronation
  • Muscle tightness in calves and feet

Treatment

  • Massage lower leg trigger points causing referred tibia pain
  • Correct biomechanical imbalances with strength training
  • Stretch and foam roll tight, stiff calf muscles
  • Wear shock-absorbing shoes with arch support
Releasing contracted trigger points takes the pressure off the irritated periosteum tissue, coating the bone. It reduces problematic muscle pulling so shins can heal!

Are You Suffering from a Lingering Sports Injury?

Get back to peak performance with our targeted trigger point therapy.

Get Appointment

Start Healing with Trigger Point Massage

Trigger point therapy is highly effective for healing chronic sports injuries. The targeted massage techniques deactivate painful muscle knots that cause swelling, stiffness, cramping, and mobility problems after an injury.

Athletes experience less pain, increased flexibility and strength, fewer spasms, and a faster return to sports by releasing these trigger points.

I encourage anyone struggling with a nagging sports injury to explore trigger point massage at our clinic. I can create a customized treatment plan to make you feel better quickly. Invest in your health, and don’t wait to start living pain-free again.

Blog-Author-Bio-Dr-Craig

Meet Dr. Craig Eymann, a dedicated chiropractor and yoga enthusiast with over two decades of expertise in spinal health, sports chiropractic, and personalized care, prioritizing misalignment correction for swift injury resolution.

Recent Blogs

Leave A Comment

Appointment Type Selection

Please select the type of appointment you would like to schedule:

Payment Options

Will you be using insurance for your visit?

Note for Insurance Patients

Select insurance provider and enter policy details. Providing insurance information allows us to verify coverage and confirm your appointment time.

Self Pay

For those without insurance or preferring out-of-pocket payment, you’ll acknowledge responsibility for full service costs upfront. We’ll confirm your preferred appointment date and time upon submission.