Manhattan Health Education School - Swedish Institute - New York, NY

What are Trigger Points?

What Exactly are Trigger Points? Photo - Swedish Institute - New York, NY


Do you ever have a sore spot that makes you nearly jump in pain when it’s touched? How about suddenly feeling pain in one area when an entirely different area of your body is the one being pressed? This may not be a muscle in spasm. It could be a trigger point. 


Explains Scott Dietsch, Massage Therapy Clinic Director at Swedish Institute:⠀

“A trigger point is a highly irritable localized spot of exquisite tenderness in a palpable taut band of muscle tissue. Essentially, it’s the painful part of a knot in a muscle. When pressure is applied to this taut band of fibers, you’ll feel a radiating ‘referred’ pain in a distant area. In other words, when a Tp is compressed or stimulated, it’s typical to feel pain in a different, remote part of your body. Ex: a Tp in the shoulder may cause headache or neck pain—sometimes even when it’s not being pressed.” ⠀

What’s happening below the surface?

Basic explanation: the continuously contracted knot in the muscle fiber stops blood flow at the trigger point, thus starving tissue of necessary oxygen & nutrients. Metabolic waste & toxins then build in the area, potentially causing pain, tension & spasm.

So what do you do?

Go see a licensed massage therapist! A trained LMT will be able to properly identify the source of the problem & the exact point to palpate. After about 7-10 seconds of applying specific pressure on the point (which will hopefully be a “good” hurt!), you’ll likely feel a dull, deep pain followed by relief as it subsides. More than that, your therapist will be able to identify aspects of your posture or work habits that may be causing the trigger points in the first place, so you can get to the root of the problem rather than applying a band-aid approach.

Where do you go?

If you don’t already have your own personal favorite Massage Therapist, lucky for you we have a Graduate Clinic at Swedish Institute where you can be confident that you’re getting a properly trained Licensed Massage Therapist (or soon-to-be licensed on a limited permit) with 1200+ hours of training. And sessions start at $75 for a full 60-min massage, far below what you’d pay at an NYC spa. So book your session!

Contact us at [email protected] or (212) 924-5900 x268.


And if you’re interested in learning more about a possible career in Massage Therapy or another health-related field, we’d be happy to help answer your questions. Contact us today to learn more.