One of the most common causes of a stiff neck are trigger points in the levator scapulae muscle. This muscle runs up the side of the neck from the top of the shoulder blade. It helps to shrug the shoulders and move and stabilize the neck. When trigger points form in this muscle they will produce pain and stiffness in the neck. Deep tissue trigger point massage applied to these knots is an effective treatment method.
Myofascial trigger points are contracted knots that form in muscle tissue. They form from overload stress placed on the muscle. Both chronic stress such as poor posture and acute stress such as an injury will cause trigger points to form. Once there a trigger point will produce pain, referred pain, weakness and stiffness. Trigger points don’t go away with rest or with time, some form of intervention such as trigger point massage is needed to treat the injured muscles. Trigger points can form in any muscle in the body and are one of the most common causes of pain.
With all the sitting going on these days, tight hamstrings are becoming increasingly common. When your hamstrings are tight they almost certainly have trigger points. These contracted knots in the muscle are a common cause of pain felt in the back of the leg, knee and lower buttocks. Trigger points don’t go away with rest or stretching, they need a therapeutic intervention such as massage to be released.
The Teres minor muscle is on of the rotator cuff muscles. It originates on the lateral border of the scapula, and inserts on the inferior facet of the greater tubercle of the humerus. This muscle assists with external rotation of the humerus as well as shoulder stability. This muscle is often damaged with a shoulder injury. Trigger points will refer into the posterior deltoid and down the back of the arm.
The sternalis muscle is a little known muscle located at the sternum. This muscle seems to be vestigial in that it doesn’t have a known function. In originates on the superior portion of the sternum and the upper part of the pectoralis muscle. It’s insertion is the cartilage of ribs 3-7, or sometimes the sheath of the rectus abdominis, or the lower part of pectoralis major. Even though this muscle doesn’t seem to have a purpose anymore it can still harbour trigger points. These points will cause pain to be felt intensely deep in the sternum, with spillover pain radiating down the inside of the arm.
A very common muscle to become overloaded and damaged, and thus develop trigger points, is the pectoralis major muscle. This is the muscle that makes up the chest. It’s main functions are adduction and internal rotation at the shoulder. Poor rounded shoulder posture is a common cause of pec tightness and trigger points. trigger points in this muscle will produce pain felt into the front of the shoulder, the chest, and down the medial arm. If these symptoms occur in the left pec it can mimick heart pain. In women, these points can be a cause of breast pain and nipple hypersensitivity.
The subscapularis muscle is one of the rotator cuff muscles. It is located on the inside of the scapula, and can be difficult to access. This muscle functions to internally rotate the arm as well as to adduct the shoulder. It is also a stabilizer of the shoulder joint. When this muscle is overloaded or injured trigger points can form. These points will refer pain into the back of the shoulder and down the inside of the arm to the wrist. Trigger points in the subscapularis are often associated with a frozen shoulder.