Myotherapy: The Trigger Point Compression Technique
Myotherapy, the trigger point compression technique, was developed and reported by Bonnie Prudden in 1980. A well known physical fitness expert, Prudden was familiar with the trigger point injection technique long promoted by Janet Travell, White House physician during the Kennedy administration. Prudden made the serendipitous discovery that manual compression of offending trigger points for a period from 5 to 7 seconds was equally effective in bringing about muscle relaxation. This approach had the advantage of being non-invasive, and multiple trigger points could be “erased” at the same sitting. Prudden then complemented the technique by including her own corrective exercise program: First, shortened and weakened muscles are reeducated to revert to their normal resting length, then progressive strength training helps lead to gradual return of normal function. Compression of trigger points is slightly painful, but as soon as the pressure is released the pain subsides. After a group of related trigger points has been inactivated, the muscle is gently stretched. The sequence of trigger point compression and passive muscle stretching continues throughout the treatment.
At the end of the treatment, active range of motion exercises are begun. Furthermore, because of the simplicity of the technique, a patient’s spouse or friend can easily be taught to administer Myotherapy to key trigger points at home in between scheduled sessions. Hence, Myotherapy combined with the corrective exercise program effectively interrupts the pain, spasm, pain cycle at both the sensory and the motor levels.