Trigger Points

Let’s examine how Trigger points could be hampering your performance, and how treating them could help prevent injuries, improve your day-to-day life…and your on-ice performance.

I have been excited to write about this topic for a while. Ever since my trainer at UBC, Spencer Baker (Athletic Development Systems), introduced me to Trigger Point Therapy, I’ve been on a mission to rid my body of them, and learn as much as I can about them.

My intention is to write an article explaining:
-my personal experience with Trigger Point Therapy
-what trigger points are
-how they develop
-why you should treat them
Then, tomorrow I will upload videos on how to treat trigger points. It’s also my intention to make this article understandable for the average reader with no exercise physiology background. As such, it will be very basic.

Personal Experience
A note: most hockey players have extremely tight hips. I am no exception. Squats to parallel was almost impossible, and walking up stairs was slightly uncomfortable. I thought that this was just something I would have to live with. However, after the first time releasing my trigger points in my piriformis/glutemaximus (bum muscles), glute medius (side of hip muscles), and psoas (hip flexors), I was pleasantly surprised at the range of motion that I was suddenly able to achieve with a squat. I became addicted to the feeling of no restrictions of my movement, and began releasing my trigger points everyday. On the ice, I felt that I was able to achieve a deeper knee bend with less effort. I also felt that I could change direction better. Off the ice, I was able to better keep my body aligned in all training movements.

The term trigger point has been around since the 50’s, and was studied early on by John Travell. But trigger points have only just started to become extensively studied. The bulk of the research into trigger points is very new. Most of the research is 2-3 years old, which is very very young by science standards. As such, the literature suggests some potential causes of trigger points, but also still leaves many questions. I will go over a few of the things that we (think we) know about trigger points.

What are trigger points?
A trigger point (also known as a myofascial trigger point in scientific literature) is defined as a part of a muscle that is tight and irritable. When pressure is applied to this part of the muscle, a twitch may occur and the owner of the trigger point may feel pain in the actual trigger point, but the pain may also travel

How are trigger points caused?
The suggested causes of trigger points are:
-exercising too long or doing something you are not accustomed to
-low intensity repetitive work (think brick laying)
-some sort of trauma to the muscle
-sustained stress (of the muscle fibre)
-prolonged ischemia (muscles don’t get enough blood, and therefore not enough oxygen)

Why should you treat trigger points?
Muscles with trigger points cause:
Restricted joint range of motion
Muscle weakness
Accelerated fatiguability

Therefore, treating and releasing trigger point could help you: reduce muscolskeletal pain, increase your joint range of motion (get more flexible), make your muscles stronger and less quick to fatigue!

Check in tomorrow to see how to treat the most common trigger points for hockey players.

Note: I didn’t cite throughout the article, but the following two articles are what I based this blog post on:

Ge, H.Y., Arendt-Nielsen, L. (2011). Latent myofascial trigger points. Current Pain and Headache Reports, 15(5), 386-392. DOI:10.1007

Bron, C., Dommerholt, J.D. (2012). Etiology of myofascial trigger points. Current Pain and Headache Reports, 16(5), 439-444.

If you are not able to access them and would like to read more, send me an email and I will provide the PDF files.


Published by

Jason at Train 2.0

2.0 was born from the belief that 1.0 isn't good enough. The way we're approaching coaching, training, and development for hockey needs to be rethought. My own lessons have led me to rethink the way it's being done and I can't help but write about it. I'm writing for my 12, 13, 14, 15 year old self who didn't have this resource. I'm writing for parents who are putting their dollars and trust in coaches who are wasting all of it. I'm writing because I hope it can make a difference.

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