The Benefits of Foam Rolling: Why is Trigger Point so Painful?

Foam rolling is a form of self-massage that has gained popularity over the years as a way to improve flexibility, reduce muscle pain and soreness, and improve overall athletic performance. The practice involves using a foam roller to apply pressure to specific areas of the body that are commonly overworked or stressed, causing trigger points or “knots” in the muscle tissue. In this article, we’ll explore why trigger points can be so painful and how foam rolling can help alleviate that pain.

What is a Trigger Point?

A trigger point is a tight knot or “bundle” of muscle fibers that can form in any muscle of the body. These points are often caused by overuse, stress, or injury to the muscle tissue, and can lead to discomfort, soreness, and pain. Trigger points can also cause referred pain, meaning that the pain is felt in a different part of the body than where the trigger point is located. For example, a trigger point in the upper back can cause pain and discomfort in the neck and shoulders.

Why Are Trigger Points So Painful?

Trigger points are painful because they cause a build-up of tension and inflammation in the muscle fibers. This tension can “press” on nerves and other tissues, causing pain and discomfort. Additionally, trigger points can limit the range of motion in the affected muscle, making it difficult to move or perform daily activities without discomfort.

How Can Foam Rolling Help?

Foam rolling can help alleviate trigger point pain in a few different ways. Firstly, the pressure applied by the foam roller can help break up the tight muscle fibers that cause trigger points. This, in turn, can help reduce inflammation and ease pain and discomfort.

Secondly, foam rolling can help increase blood flow to the affected muscle, which can help speed up the healing process and reduce soreness and stiffness. Finally, foam rolling can also help improve flexibility and range of motion in the affected muscle, making it easier to move and perform daily activities without discomfort.

When Should I Foam Roll?

Foam rolling can be performed before or after exercise, or at any time during the day when you’re feeling tight or sore. Ideally, you should aim to foam roll on a regular basis to help prevent the build-up of trigger points and reduce the risk of injury.

How to Foam Roll

To foam roll effectively, you should first identify the areas of your body that are tight or sore. Once you’ve identified the areas that need attention, place the foam roller on the floor and position yourself so that the affected muscle is resting on the roller. Use your body weight to apply pressure to the affected area and roll slowly back and forth. You can also perform small, targeted movements to focus on specific trigger points.


In conclusion, foam rolling is a highly effective way to alleviate trigger point pain and improve overall athletic performance. By applying pressure to specific areas of the body, foam rolling can help break up tight muscle fibers, increase blood flow, and improve flexibility and range of motion. If you’re struggling with trigger point pain or soreness, consider adding foam rolling to your daily routine and see how it can help you feel better and perform at your best.

Pros Cons
Can help alleviate pain and soreness May be uncomfortable or painful to perform
Can improve flexibility and range of motion May take time to see results
Can reduce the risk of injury May not be suitable for individuals with certain medical conditions