What are trigger points?

Trigger points are spots in the muscle that become overly sensitive. They cause pain when pressed, either locally or in another area. This happens when the muscle is contracted for too long and prevents proper blood circulation to the muscle. It means the muscle doesn’t get enough new oxygen, and it cannot get rid of its metabolic waste.

How to release?

When you find a trigger point, most often a taut fiber in your muscle, hold down on this spot with your fingers or your knuckle and press down with a moderate pressure. You can hold this pressure as is, or you can add a small circular or back and forth motion to it. You can also gently stretch the muscle while pressing on a trigger point. For example: while holding a trigger point on a muscle near the neck, you can gently bend the neck to the other side and back. If the muscle is in a hard-to-reach area, you can use a small ball (ex. a tennis ball) against the wall or on the ground to help.

Don’t hold your breath while doing these techniques. Remember, the goal is to bring new oxygen to the muscle and let the muscle get rid of its old metabolic waste.

It is normal for the muscle to be a little sore afterwards. You can apply heat and do some gentle stretching to help it relax.

Common muscle trigger points

Sub occipitals:

These muscles are located at the back of the neck at the base of the skull. Active trigger points at this muscle can even cause headaches through the side of the head to the eye.

trigger points - sub occipitals
Sub occipitals


These muscles are at the front of the neck, attaching to the first and second ribs. When active, they can cause pain all the way down to the hands. The scalenes assist with breathing. If you find these muscles are often problematic, it will be important to make sure you are breathing deeply with your diaphragm and not just your upper chest.

trigger points - scalenes

Upper and mid trapezius:

Trapezius is a large muscle in the neck and back. Its trigger points can range from causing headaches and pain in the mid-back to pain down the arm.

Upper and mid trapezius
Upper and mid-trapezius


Often related to sciatica type pain, trigger points along this muscle can be found near the sacrum or in the middle of the bum.


There are different ways to relieve muscle tension and trigger points. Contact us to make an appointment!