What are fasciae and trigger points?

Faszien, Triggerpunkte

Fasciae and trigger points are the soft, stretchable components of connective tissue. They permeate the entire body as a connecting and enveloping tension network. In addition to the flat connective tissue surfaces, all fibrous, collagenous connective tissues such as organ and joint capsules, ligaments, muscle septa and the tendons with their ring-shaped retaining ligaments belong to it. The fascia network is considered the comprehensive basis of coordinative body perceptions.

Trigger points are muscle stiffnesses concentrated in specific areas within the skeletal muscles. They affect both the fascia and the muscles. The myofascinating trigger points are locally sensitive to pressure; pain sensations of varying intensity can emanate from them. Experts attribute the vast majority of pain syndromes to possible muscle hardening.

The network

As soft tissue components of the connective tissue present everywhere in the body, healthy, elastic fasciae are able to tolerate strong pressure to a large extent – for example, they give muscles support and strength. Sick fasciae, on the other hand, react to pressures exerted on the muscles as well as to pressure and traction when sitting, standing or lying down.

Fasciae have a denser and more branched fibre network than, for example, the muscles themselves, as new medical research has shown. This can be of decisive importance for the transmission of pain signals.

The unholy alliance

The aforementioned studies proved via ultrasound analyses that the fasciae can thicken and harden. The hardening is called myogelosis – pressure painful thickening, the causes of which can be lack of exercise, poor posture, arthrosis, sports injuries, hyperacidity, one-sided stress and even great psychological stress. Not only superficial fascia and fascia running directly under the skin are affected, but also much deeper lying areas.

In addition, myofascinating trigger points develop, which are called myo in technical jargon. The term Myo means muscle and clarifies the interaction of fascia and trigger points.

Trigger points can develop due to overstraining at work, in leisure time and during sport; circulatory disorders are considered indicators and subsequent incorrect relieving postures gradually increase the complaints.

The fibrous structure of the muscles allows the fascia to continue into the interior of the muscles – and so an unholy alliance with the trigger points occurs. A localised disorder develops in the possible interaction of fascia, muscles and tendons, as a result of which nerve endings are irritated and pain can arise. This is how trigger points develop as inflammatory nodes in the inner area of the respective muscle and subsequently the fascia becomes inflamed.

Trigger points can also be compared to acupuncture points. They are able to radiate far into other areas of the body, for example from the buttocks into the leg, from the jaw joint into the head or from the shoulder into the arm – if you press on such a trigger point, the pain can be felt in other parts of the body.

The best medicine

An efficient therapy reaches the deeper fascia as well as the superficial areas and the muscle with the trigger points. However, before curative medicine has to intervene with massive shock wave therapy, medication and so on, effective fascia training comes into play.

The method is modern – but the knowledge that sport is the best medicine is as old as it is true. Fascia training integrates springy gymnastic exercises, massages with rollers and balls, as well as elements from Eastern martial arts and yoga, none of which are new.

It is not primarily the movement sequences that are new – what is new is the scientific knowledge that makes it possible to understand the tasks of the fasciae. This has led to the rule of not primarily challenging and training the red muscle flesh, but rather the surrounding collagen fibre network.

Pressurise

Trigger points cannot be seen on an X-ray – but they can be felt easily. Pain relief is the goal of targeted pressure massages, which can be supported and intensified by acupuncture treatments and, for certain indications, also by injections of locally acting anaesthetics. The stimulation of nerve receptors and muscle fibres generated in this way leads to relaxation and stretching as well as better blood circulation. In this way, more nutrients and oxygen reach the hardened muscles, the trigger point dissolves and the pain subsides.

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