Foam Rolling & Trigger Point Activation

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Where my trigger point sits

Where my trigger point sits

Following a deadlift workout 4 weeks ago I noticed a nagging pain originating somewhere from deep within my right gluteus maximus muscle. As the pain radiated into my right hamstring and made it feel numb, I couldn’t get the horrendous thought of a herniated lumbar disc out of my mind. This injury has some very similar pain symptoms that I experienced myself. My biomechanics knowledge told me there was no way I had slipped one of my lumbar discs at my young age. Following my visit to the physiotherapist, I could rest assured my pain was nothing severe – some muscle fibers of my gluteus max had formed a knot which also known as a Trigger Point (TP).

TPs are usually treated through deep mechanical pressure exerted by a therapist. In my case, I have found this procedure to be really painful once the therapists‘ fingers find the most painful spot of the TP. The pressure of the fingers wasn’t enough as they couldn’t reach those deep spots of high tension. A special wooden knob came into action that had me almost scream from pain.

However, the beauty of this therapy is that it only took roughly 5 minutes in total of consistently applied pressure to relieve most of the pain radiating into my hamstring. I have continued treating myself with a wooden stick once every few days to sustain the positive effect.

My ignorance and not listening to my body tempted me into a premature deadlifting session which had me squeal in pain the following days – stupid decision! My philosophy now is to get rid of this annoying TP first before my ego lures me into a too early deadlift again.


For the purpose of self-therapy, most people use foam rollers on which certain body parts are rolled on. By doing so, tense regions of a muscle can be located and through the bodyweight provides constant force being exerted onto the foam roller. It helps to release the tension that builds up in the myofascia (thin layer covering the muscles). I have found this treatment to be really helpful post-workout – less muscle soreness and less DOMS. Personally, I don’t own a foam roller. I chose a slightly more radical and more painful route as I use a large glass bottle to roll on. To reach smaller regions lying deeper layers of my tight muscles I will use a tennis ball.

I would be interested to know whether you have had similar experiences with using foam rollers and trigger point activation.


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  • R.

    Myself, I am using foam rollers however before I start my heavy lifting workout routine. This enables me to activate all muscles fibers in the specific region I want to train and to lift heavier weights. Post workout my muscles are to stressed and also filled with blood so that I wont reach all of my connectiv tissue. Also using a tennis ball for my buttocks :)

  • Stephan R

    I have been reading in some forums that people prefer to use it post-workout. But I am sure that doing it pre-workout works just as well – especially as part of a warm-up. Lower back is kind of notorious for being tight with many lifters.

  • DS

    Please try a PVC pipe. I use a 6 inch diameter one. All I thought about was how painful it would be if that glass bottle broke while you’re rolling on it.

    • Stephan R

      Actually I no longer use the glass bottle. I have switched to an aluminium SIGG bottle. But I appreciate your concern. :)