What Is A Trigger Point
What is a trigger point?
Trigger points are hyperirritable points that are formed when the muscle is constantly contracted and not able to relax. A number of things can cause them from acute trauma to repetitive microtraumas. They feel like little “knots” in the muscle. Not only are these knots often painful to touch, they can also cause a decreased range of motion in the affected muscle, can cause decreased blood flow to the area and can cause referred pain, which is pain felt in another area than where the trigger point is.
Image credit - Andrew Eckley, Trigger Points For Horses
Trigger point therapy and massage go hand in hand since these trigger points are often found while massaging horses and releasing the tension from these trigger points help to further relax the tight muscles.
Benefits of Trigger Point Therapy are:
1. Increasing circulation – by releasing the tight muscle fibres forming the trigger point, blood flow bringing in oxygen and other nutrients is restored and can assist the muscle with repair and becoming functional again.
2. Increasing flexibility and range of motion – trigger points cause pain and when pain is felt, it’s a natural defence for you body to not want to move in case it further injures it. By releasing the pain and tension, the muscle can be utilized to its full potential.
3. Improving posture – as mentioned above, it is natural for our bodies to develop compensation patterns when injured to avoid further injuring the area. If compensation occurs for too long, the body begins to think it is normal and muscles designed for structural support are now being used for movement which can cause even more injury since that’s not the job they were designed to do! Once the trigger point is released and pain is relieved, through stretching and targeted exercises, the body can be reprogrammed to move as intended instead of compensating.
Trigger points do not go away on their own. They may regress to a point where they stop referring pain but they will always be there causing restrictions and soreness.
If your horse is showing any signs of discomfort or has changed the way they are moving, please contact me to book an assessment for your horse. I am happy to work with your veterinarian, farrier, chiropractor, etc. to help your horse!