How to Release Trigger Points at Home

Sometimes waiting to get to your LMT is not an option! Here’s how to work out that annoying trigger point wherever you are.

Trigger points are a protection response triggered by mechanical stresses in the body. The absolute best way to release a trigger point is to discontinue the activity that caused it in the first place. However, life does not always roll that way. Which is why we have massage! And when we can’t get in to see our favorite massage therapist, we have self massage!


Self Massage

You ever get that strong desire to push on a knot? Your instincts are right on! The first and easiest method to working out a trigger point is to compress it. Find the most tender spot in the sore area and push on it until it is uncomfortable, but not unbearable. Hold that depth for 30 seconds (you can also pulse for 3 sets of 10 seconds if a straight hold is too much) or until the sensation changes. If you start to feel less pain, you are getting a good release! If you start to feel more pain, this could also be a sign of release, however it could also be a sign that this trigger point is not ready to release yet. You will not get better results if you force it, so please don’t do that to yourself! Instead, take a break and try again later once the pain has calmed again. In an attempt to stabilize or protect, the contracted nature of a trigger point also stiffles blood flow. This lack of blood flow in turn causes pain which signals for an increased protection response which results in increased tightening of the muscle fibers which further cuts off blood supply and round and round it goes. We believe compression works to resolve trigger points by interrupting this cycle. The compression blocks blood supply (in that very localized area) to an extent beyond that which is naturally created by the trigger point. Releasing the pressure then floods fibers with new blood. It is the fresh oxygen and nutrients entering the tissues and the flushing of trapped metabolic waste that allows the knot to release, reducing the pain.


Raise your hand if when you read the word “stretch” you saw yourself pulling one of your arms across your chest or a yoga pose? Most people do. When we think of stretching trigger points, however, we want to think much smaller! Find the most tender spot in the tight area and move slightly above it. Press into the muscle and run your finger completely over the trigger point while maintaining pressure. Repeat 3 to 5 times. Stretching most likely works because we are inputting the opposite stimulus to the one the fibers are currently performing - stretch instead of contract.

This works best when gliding with the muscle fibers. For example, if you are working on a knot in your forearm, your will move from your elbow to your wrist. You might be able to feel the muscle fiber direction, but if you need some help, I recommend using Google to find a picture of the muscle so you can work out which way you need to go.

Combine these two moves by compressing then stretching for longer lasting results!

Use Tools Not all trigger points are easily reached with our hands. I’m sure we’ve all had that spot in the middle of our back that you just can’t quite get to on our own. But fear not! As advanced primates, tools are our friends! You can accomplish both of the above massage techniques anywhere on your body with the help of a

  • Foam roller

  • Theracane

  • Back scratcher

  • Superball

  • Tennis ball

  • Wall corner

  • Basically anything that will give you the best for you pressure and can be maneuvered

What creative tools have you used to work out a trigger point? How did using these techniques work for you? Let me know in the comments!

And remember to share with someone who could use this :-)


Rhiannon Flores-Drennen

LMBT & Founder of Philosopher's Stone Therapeutic Massage

Serving Haddonfield, NJ and Surrounding Areas

Chronic Pain Relief Specialist

Rhiannon loves helping you solve your pain puzzles! A chronic pain specialist with a sub-specialty in pelvic dysfunction, she understands the huge impact pain can have on your life and is dedicated to helping you reach your health goals so you can enjoy your life fully and whole. Though her style can sometimes be described as "therapeutic fluff," she is not the therapist to see for a "just to treat myself" massage.

Augmenting her initial massage training with multiple courses and certifications including SMRT, ATMAT, and IHPS she has the skills to create effective and lasting change for you. But don't go on blind faith - check out her amazing reviews!

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