Exercises for Neck Pain
Published on: February 25, 2020

Published By: Southwest Physical Therapy

Neck Pain

Trigger Point Exercises for Neck Pain

Trigger points are sensitive areas within muscle or connective tissue (fascia) that become painful when touched or overworked, and they can sometimes refer pain to other parts of the body. There could be various possible causes for a trigger point, such as repetitive overuse, an acute injury, or irritation of facet joints in the spine, just to name a few.

It is believed that trigger point pain results from nodules (tight ‘knots’) that develop in otherwise smooth muscle. Exercises that reduce and disrupt such pain-causing nodules are used for treating these types of trigger points.

Trigger Point Exercises

For the relief of some types of trigger point pain, Southwest Physical Therapy recommends the following two exercises:


You can also use a racquetball to self-massage shoulder blade trigger points too.

  • While leaning with your upper back against the wall, place a racquetball between the tender muscles of your shoulder blades and the wall.
  • Using your legs to move your body, roll the ball up and down on top of your muscles for about 2 minutes.

Foam Roller

Some of the trigger point pain that often accompanies neck pain can be worked out using a full-length, 6-inch diameter foam roll.

  • Place the foam roll on the ground.
  • Lie on it lengthwise.
  • Place your hands on your hips.
  • Roll slowly sideways keeping your torso parallel to the ground until the foam roller rolls over your scapular muscles where the sore trigger points are located.
  • Slowly roll 20 times to each side.

Trigger Points Consensus 

The verdict is still out on a consensus in medical literature regarding what constitutes a trigger point and how they develop, because all of that is still being studied. However, most definitions do tend to describe a trigger point as consisting of the following:

  • Tenderness and/or pain that is felt locally and may spread to a different area of the body.
  • Tight knot-like nodule within fascia or a muscle that can be felt upon palpation, such as by oneself or during a medical examination. 
  • The muscle may twitch and pain may increase in a familiar referral pattern when touched.
  • Pain and tightness decrease the range of motion in the area surrounding the trigger point.

By incorporating exercises that target their specific trigger points, such as those shared above by Southwest Physical Therapy for the neck and back, many people have found relief from trigger point pain. Southwest Physical Therapy has successful treatment programs for relieving every kind of pain and limited mobility. Visit us in Brooklyn, NYC.

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