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Trapezius Trigger Points - Dr. Jonathan Kuttner


 Trigger Point Therapy - Where to Start?

Ischemic Compression Technique


Trapezius trigger points are incredibly common and related to a number of ailments such as headaches and stiff necks

Trapezius is a major mover of the shoulder. The upper fibers pull the shoulder girdle up and help prevent depression of the shoulder girdle when weight is carried.

Trigger points form in the upper, middle and lower trapezius. Upper trigger points are commonly active, typically posture related, and just about all of us have them.

These trigger points are associated with a wide range of common ailments including chronic tension and neck ache, stress headache, cluster headache, cervical spine pain, whiplash, facial/jaw pain, neck pain and stiffness, upper shoulder pain, mid-back pain, and dizziness.

The good news is that trigger points in the upper trapezius are relatively simple to access, and there's a lot that you can do by yourself at home to help dissipate these "knots" to achieve pain relief and, in some cases, increased range of motion for the neck and shoulders.


Trapezius - Common Trigger Point Sites


Trigger Point Self Treatment Technique

This technique involves locating the heart of the trigger/tender point. When this is compressed it may well trigger a specific referred pain map (preferably reproducing your symptoms).

This technique involves applying direct, gentle and sustained pressure to the point.


1. Identify the tender/trigger point you wish to work on.

2. Place the host muscle in a comfortable position, where it is relaxed and can undergo full stretch.

3. Apply gentle, gradually increasing pressure to the tender point until you feel resistance. This should be experienced as discomfort and not as pain.

4. Apply sustained pressure until you feel the tender point yield and soften. This can take from a few seconds to several minutes.

5. Steps 3-4 can be repeated, gradually increasing the pressure on the tender/trigger point until it has fully yielded.

6. To achieve a better result, you can try to change the direction of pressure during these repetitions.

Proceed with caution and always use common sense!

There are many reasons why you might have trigger points, so it is important to consider your trigger point pain in the context of the rest of your body.

It must be stressed that the techniques offered on this page are not a substitute for therapy from a qualified practitioner.

Although aches and pains from trigger points are common, there can sometimes be an underlying pathology.

It is advisable to always seek a proper diagnosis from a suitably qualified professional.



Where possible work with a partner or friend - refer to notes on procedure (above)




Self Treatment using fingers. It's always good to start using fingers (finger tips) to see if you can feel the trigger point itself and not just the immediate area.



There are a variety of pressure tools available to buy. These are relatively inexpensive and allow you to comfortably reach the target areas. In our opinion, just about everyone should own a pressure tool!  



Stretching alone probably won't do too much to dissipate the trigger points but it can be very effective in providing pain relief and (when used it tandem with self-treatment) may help accelerate the healing process.    



Always start slowly and use extreme caution at all times. Stop if you feel too much pain. If you already have a painful condition, seek professional advice before you stretch.  


Self-managed care

Studies have repeatedly shown the importance and value of self-managed care. It's incredible how simple it can often be to achieve pain relief with simple techniques like those described above.

If you suffer with long term or chronic pain ailments, it is always likely to be beneficial to work with an experienced professional.

Most therapists will help you create a self-managed care program and may be able to teach you how to use pressure tools.


Find a Trigger Point Professional in your area

More articles about Headaches and Trigger Points

Dry Needling for Trigger Points

NAT Professional Courses

Certify as a Trigger Point Therapist

Trigger Point Workbooks 


About NAT Courses:

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This trigger point therapy blog is intended to be used for information purposes only and is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or to substitute for a medical diagnosis and/or treatment rendered or prescribed by a physician or competent healthcare professional. This information is designed as educational material, but should not be taken as a recommendation for treatment of any particular person or patient. Always consult your physician if you think you need treatment or if you feel unwell. 




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