Effects of pressure techniques and stretching on trigger points

® The initial pressure applied will increase the pain but as the pressure is maintained or increased, the pain will decrease. This is due to factors that reduce the activity of the nervous system, i.e. the nervous system adapts to the pressure, and sensitivity of nerve endings is reduced; the chemical metabolites that irritate the nerve endings are reduced; and the release of endorphins (the body's natural analgesic), which suppress pain, is possible.

® When pressure is applied into the trigger point, the underlying blood vessels are compressed and the blood is squeezed out; when the pressure is released, the blood vessels dilate and fill with fresh blood. This alternate pressure and release continually flushes the area with fresh blood, which will remove the build up of metabolites including chemical irritants, and also bring oxygen and nutrients to the tissues thus aiding return to normal physiological function.

® As pain is relieved during the treatment then the degree of tension in the muscle decreases because it breaks the pain cycle (pain-tension-pain).

® The stretching techniques that are applied after the pressure treatment also reduce spasm in the muscle fibres. In addition they loosen and realign the fibres, which improves extensibility and lengthening of the muscle.

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