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Core Knowledge


Trigger Point Movements 101


Trigger points are hypersensitive “knots” that develop in muscles. They can be painful, even causing pain beyond the affected tender area. The action you can take to work out these kinks is called trigger point therapy, or trigger point massage—a technique you can perform on yourself at the gym or even at home. 

Applying gentle pressure with a variety of tools like a massage stick, foam roll, golf ball, trigger point ball, or trigger point roller can isolate and release the so-called knots. It is also sometimes combined with a stretch for added benefit.

How It Works

A trigger point develops when a muscle is constantly being activated and then stays contracted. This could be the result of overuse, misuse, inflammation, trauma, or nerve dysfunction.

Trigger point therapy works by applying gentle pressure to the knot through massage. The pressure creates a slight stretch in the muscle, disrupting the constant activation and allowing the muscle to return to its normal resting state. Trigger point movements should feel like a deep massage.

Most trigger points will respond to this pressure. If it doesn’t, you may need to seek the help of a medical professional who can apply additional treatment like myofascial release, dry needling, or injections.

When to Do It

  • Pre-workout. You can perform trigger point movements to prepare your muscles for a training session.
  • When you’re in pain. Often times, muscle or joint pain can be the result of trigger points in the area.
  • Post-workout. After training, trigger point movements can help release tension in your muscles so they can begin the recovery process.

Coaching Keys

  • Maintain pressure throughout the massage.
  • The more uncomfortable it is, the more it needs to be massaged.
  • Spend more time on any sore spots that you find.

Sample Moves

Below are a few examples of trigger point movements. Click on each title for detailed instructions.

Trigger Point – Quad (Quadballer)

Trigger Point – Deltoid (Ball)

Trigger Point – Calf (Footballer)

Arch Rolls – Golf Ball


You can perform trigger point movements with a variety of tools. A trigger ball is any small, compact ball (tennis ball, for example) used for massaging specific areas. A double trigger ball is made from two compact balls (tennis balls, for example) taped together to form a peanut shape.

Click here to shop for trigger point equipment from our partner SKLZ.

Tags: Injury Prevention, Regeneration, Foam Roll, Soreness, Trigger Points