September 01, 2005
According to some statistics, skeletal muscle accounts for 40-50 percent of body weight, and about 85 percent of human pain complaints. In athletes, most chronic pain issues are of myofascial (muscle- or sinew-related) origin. This is not surprising, since athletes tend to use their muscles and sinews much harder than the average population.
What is surprising is that when athletes go to the doctor because of some annoying pain that won't go away, hardly ever are their muscles examined and screened for problems. Instead, the doctor usually looks at their tendons and joints, and, in the end, the problem is likely to be blamed on some type of "-itis" —tendinits, bursitis, arthritis, you name it. In this article, I want to draw your attention to a more likely cause of your pain—one that is directly related to your muscles. I am talking about trigger points.
Trigger points are small, localized muscle cramps with a variety of causes, most notably excessive loads, direct trauma, or repetitive or prolonged muscle contractions. The cramp does not normally affect the whole muscle but is usually confined to one or two small muscle fibers within the main body of the muscle. You can actually feel the cramp as a hard lump or knot in your muscle. Sometimes, especially in small muscles, the whole muscle will feel like a cable made from hard rubber.