What Is Trigger Or Pressure Point Massage Therapy?

Mar 22, 2018

If you’ve ever experienced pain arising from inflammation or some other type of trauma, pressure point massage could be a massage therapy to consider trying. This type of massage therapy is designed to treat pain through trigger points. Before you speak to your massage therapist about pressure-point massage, you’ll want to find out more about what it is and how it could help with pain.

What is Pressure Point Massage?

Trigger or pressure point massage is about identifying trigger points for your pain and applying targeted pressure to these trigger points to help release and relieve pain.

This massage technique could help with pain caused by muscle overuse, inflammation, injury, posture, electrolyte imbalances, infections, or nerve damage.

The idea behind pressure point massage is that the body often refers pain to another part of the body. This type of triggered pain is known as bursitis. For example, a trigger point in the back that’s inflamed can trigger severe pain in the shoulder.

To perform a pressure point massage, the massage therapist applies firm pressure with a finger, elbow, or implement, focusing on specific trigger points (often located far away from the area affected by pain) that are painful when pressed. By releasing the trigger point with firm pressure and combining with other massage techniques, the original problem can be eased or even healed.

Examples of issues that could be assisted with pressure point massage include sore shoulders, achy knees, headaches, foot pain, or other types of physical ailments that have unexplained pain.

What is the Difference Between Trigger and Pressure Point Massage?

Trigger and pressure point massage are essentially the same thing. The name ‘trigger point massage’ refers to the fact that pain is triggered by inflammation or trauma in another area of the body. The term ‘pressure point massage’ highlights the fact that the treatment is about applying pressure to the correct points in the body to assist with healing the pain.

A pressure point massage can benefit trigger-point-based pain because it’s designed to find the actual cause (the trigger points) and apply pressure to help these areas relax; in turn, healing the area that’s experiencing pain.

What to expect with a pressure point massage

The biggest benefit of pressure point massage is its potential for pain relief. By addressing the issue at its roots, pressure point massages can create an effective, lasting, healing outcome.

To start, the massage therapist will assess your injury or pain issue and discuss appropriate types of treatment with you before proceeding. When carrying out the pressure point massage, the massage therapist will apply pressure to the identified trigger points for up to 60 seconds, but the time frame for each pressure application could be as brief as 10 seconds, depending on what’s appropriate for the issue.

During the process, you can experience spasms or pain when the massage therapist applies the pressure to the applicable trigger points. Qualified massage therapists will know how to apply sufficient pressure without overstimulating the trigger point.

Not all massage therapists will approach a pressure point massage in the same way. Some massage therapists will work around the problem area first before using trigger point massage to relieve and release the problem. This ensures you’ve released all related muscle groups, and makes for a gentler approach.

Depending on your specific pain issue, you might need only a few treatment sessions. If you have severe pain or a chronic condition, you might need more treatments that are spread out over a period of months or longer, and it could be a complementary technique used in conjunction with other massage strategies. Your pressure point massage treatment plan could also be delivered in combination with medication, physiotherapy, and other forms of treatment.

With an massage therapist who’s experienced with trigger point massage, you could experience quicker pain relief and healing, depending on your specific pain issue.

Want to learn how to perform a trigger point massage?

Discover Massage is a highly respected, industry-recognised massage training school helping students become qualified, confident massage therapists across Australia since 1997. With more than 60 massage courses delivered every year, our school offers excellent value for money and quality, practical training in a fun and friendly environment. Find out more about our courses here.

Cameron Aubrey

Cameron Aubrey has over 20 years experience in the massage industry, and leads the team as Course Director at Discover Massage Australia. Cameron holds a Diploma in Remedial Massage, and his expertise runs across a large range of massage techniques, particularly sports, Swedish and whole body massage.