Hurts So Good!

Hurts So Good!

By Ross Ashcraft

Pain can show up in the most inconvenient places.  Aches and pains grab our attention and push on our awareness and focus.  Most can relate to a dull headache that causes the eyes to squint, the eyebrows to scrunch, and forehead to wrinkle.  Although a common complaint it does not have to stay that way.

Trigger Points can be the major cause of this misery.  Trigger Points are places of damaged tissue in the muscle.  They are caused many times by a buildup of metabolic waste or lack of full range of motion in that muscle.  When inflamed this damaged area refers pain to other part of the body.  Most people intuitively know of this phenomenon.  If you have ever rubbed your temples or shoulders to make your head stop hurting you were working with referred pain. 

Damaged tissue in any of these  spots can cause pain in this areas.

Damage tissue in any of these  spots can cause pain in these  areas. 

Learning to work with Trigger Points is a major focus of most massage curriculum.  If you find yourself in pain please seek out a willing therapist and enlist their aid.

This week I’d like to show you a technique that requires a willing partner.  Some spots are very difficult to reach and require either a specialized tool or help.  I’m going to show you a technique that doesn’t require any special skills.  It only requires a firm thumb or if you’re brave enough—an elbow!


1.  Sit in a comfortable chair that has a low back and let your arms dangle at your side

2.  Have your partner rub your shoulder for a few seconds to loosen them up

3.  Ask or guide you partner to find the spot indicated in the picture below

4.  Have them apply firm thumb pressure

5.  Then with your arm dangling to the side, begin to you rotate your shoulder

6.  Do this for 20 seconds and then reverse directions

7.  Repeat this procedure to the same spot on the other shoulder

8.  This should give you a “hurt so good feeling.” 

If it causes sharp jolts of pain down your arm or numbness have your partner back off the pressure or stop.

Please try the technique on a family member and then have them do it on you.  Let me know what you think!

Below you find a great website with great pictures and information on more pain referral patterns.

167 thoughts on “Hurts So Good!”

  1. Really good article. I was just thinking while I was reading this that you should have a magazine or something(not sucking up). It explained the subject really good and was very practical. Thanks for the information. I will be checking out your website to. Thanks!

  2. These articles are all wonderful tools. I believe I hqveused every single one of them in some way on almost all my family members. They are so thankful as am I to have these tips. Thank you.

  3. I performed this technique on a client yesterday, she was thrilled–she has recurring pain in this shoulder, her neck and has frequent headaches. Although it was painful a bit, she said afterward, “Hey! It doesn’t hurt anymore! What did you do?” Yay, Ross!
    Came home afterward, did it on Brian–he said it hurt, but really helped his shoulder pain. He performed the technique on me, got the shooting pain down the arm (boys are so rough)–he lightened up, did both triggers. Really felt great! Tension was gone, not so much pain on the left side of my neck anymore.

  4. Awesooome! tried this on my friend, and recieved it as well. made a world of difference (after the pain of course!)easy for anyone to do!

  5. I tried this with my husband. I did it for him first, but he did not like it. I did like it when he did it for me since it felt really good on the shoulder knots I hae been developing since sports massage week, but I found I had a slight headache afterwards.

  6. I will remember this trick when I give a back massage! It amazes me how the simplest tricks can make a world of difference.

  7. As I was reading through this article, I remembered how good this felt when we did the lab demo this morning and I wish I had someone here to lend me a willing elbow. Thanks for the good stuff, as always.

  8. This works well. I just had a client tell me yesterday, she felt that all the way down her arm. I only worked about 5 minutes? and she felt better. Amazing.

  9. I remember this from the first time we did it when I was an alpha. This technique was probably the first time that THOSE knots were worked out. Thanks I will certainly incorporate this into chair massage, and it is easy enough to have anyone else do on me if I find I need it.

  10. Tried it on my daughter, she did not like it, she tried it on me, it was fine. Very easy for her to pick up on it after having it done on her. Thanks

  11. I performed and received this technique with my roommate. It is amazing what a few minutes doing something like this makes such a big difference in how we feel, yet most of us wont stop and take the time.. No more! 🙂

  12. I have done a similar technique which calls for shrugging the shoulders instead of rotating them. This helps for those who have rotator cuff issues. Thought I’d share!

  13. I would love to take a course on trigger points alone. This does hurt, but it really helps relieve pain. My question is do you have to watch out for clients with previous strokes? My grandfather has neck pain that goes down his arm and i would love to try this but dont want this to hurt him.?

  14. Yep! That’s the spot! This is one that I fight with on a regular basis, and I know it’s common for many people. Thanks for this post! I know I will use it often.

  15. Sounds like a quick and easy tip that can make a difference! Thanks for the tip! DEfinitely going to give it a try.

  16. Wonderful advice! I deal with trigger points often. There times when no one is around so I deal with it myself. My trigger points usually are in my back. What I do is back up to a door facing and situate the trigger point on the edge of the facing.I press my back into the facing. After a while the trigger point releases and I’m a happy camper.

  17. I tried this in class and I liked it alot. So at home earlier I tried it on my husband and daughters. Its amazing how each of them is so differant but similar, too. The similar area was the fact that each of them it referred to arounf the same area the elbow but the pain level was differant for all three of them, including myself. My husband did mine and he said he felt a difference before and after. My daughters are young so not as much pressure but it did help them also.

  18. i love that you used pictures and described techniques to use to help release trigger points. it’s a pretty common problem so this is very useful. can’t wait to learn more about it in class.

  19. Ok…I really like this one. I did this one my friend who has been having some pain in his neck and shoulder. He couldn’t believe how much it helped him. I am definitely going to remember this for my clients.

  20. Love this technique. It really felt good in class, so that evening tried it on my husband and best friend…they both loved the relief it gave them.

  21. There have been so many times that I have gotten headaches and have had to rub my temples, ears, and even points above my eyebrows. This is a helpful blog to remind you that sometimes the place where you feel pain isn’t actually the source. Trigger point is a very neat and interesting therapy and any good massage therapist should know where the trigger points are located. If a therapist knows where they are then they can better help a client who has referred pain. By doing the technique listed above, it gave me a better understanding of how referred pain works and how you can find ways to help it.

  22. Awesome information and technique! Definitely interested in trigger points! I have been asked many times to massage people to relieve their pain in shoulders or headache.

  23. I love this! The pain is so wonderfully sweet! I have my husband do this to me all the time, as well as some of my classmates. Thanks guys for Monday I have experienced so little pain I am floored! I want to learn everything there is to know about trigger point therapy!

  24. Awesome stuff! I was so suprised by how well it helped. After I had it done to me I felt so much better. I am so wanting to learn more about trigger points now. I loved it. Thanks

  25. I did this techniques with a classmate this week. She experienced so “hurt so good” and relief from it. I’m finally getting fimiliar with trigger points!

  26. I LOVED this! In class it was rather uncomfortable but as you said….”It was a hurt so good hurt!” I tried on my Dad, husband, and a friend. All of their muscles felt very different in the exact same area. I love looking for trigger points on them because I suffer from these types of issues all the time and would love to be able to help others fix these issues. I also am excited to learn more about referred pain and be able to get rid of headaches for myself and others. Thank you!

  27. I believe we did this ind of technique in Mrs.Sharons class during lab before. To find the trigger spots, apply pressure then petrissage. It did feel good after a awhile. This will be a quick & easy routine for my client’s thanks Ross.:)

  28. I did this routine on a classmate earlier in the week and felt the muscles really loosen under my fingertips and was very amazed. I will definitely use this technique on family and friends.

  29. My boyfriend gets frequent migraines and i tried some trigger point therapy on him and he was amazed at the relief he felt! Great technique to use on clients, family, and friends. They will love you!

  30. I tried this on my husband, and he said it really made a difference for him since he’s been having some neck and shoulder pain. This is something I know I will remeber for my clients!

  31. i tried this on my mom, and she was kinda groaning. but when i stopped she said why are you stoping? it felt good, but hurt a little at the same time.

  32. Just because you have allowed me to go home and have something else on my sister and actually have her return the favor I love this blog!!! Everyday my sister ask what did you learn can you do it on me… well this was excellent because I let her read it as well and then I did it for her so she would know how it felt then she in return did it for me it was awesome we might have a new massage therapist in the family.

  33. Love it. My rhomboids are always a trigger point mecca. I read about putting a tennis ball between your back and the wall then roll around on it. I tried it and it works

  34. Sorry, finding a partner is hard to find. You can find one in the class environment. I can only reach so far!

  35. I love trigger points! 🙂 They are so interesting, helpful and yet very easy. It gives me a better understanding of referred pain. Great information! Can not wait to learn more!

  36. We have done this in class before and it really does hurt so good. I love getting my traps worked on because I always have a knots there.

  37. I love this technique. It’s easy to do and it will make your neck and back feel so much better. I’m going to have to try it with the rotation because I haven’t done that yet. Thanks Ross.

  38. We did this exercise in class on my first week there. I was surprised at how tender I was! My parents love it when I do this kind of thing to them, it really helps release tension. Every massage therapist should know some of the pain referral patterns in order to be a better massage therapist.

  39. This technique is so simple yet so effective! I can’t wait to try this in one of my own massages! Because I myself love to have my traps worked on 🙂

  40. I seem to always get trigger points in my traps so I love getting them worked on! I remember these techniques from earlier in the class year but I forgot them until now, but I will try this again.

  41. This place is such a common spot for knots and feel so good to be worked on. I think adding rotation definitely helps!

  42. I did this technique on my roommate that goes to gym everyday and has shoulder neck issues. He said it was painful but worth it and feels great afterward.

  43. Really good article I am going to practice this at home on my husband and teach him how to do this to me.

  44. My husband can’t wait to get home to have a massage. The trigger points are his favorite. It is a good feeling pain, especially after a long day working in construction. He is happy, so I am happy. Thanks.

  45. This techniques sounds like it would give that “hurt so good” feeling. I will definitely try this technique in the future.

  46. I tried it on my mom first and she said the typical mother type of thing”Oh son you healed me I feel so much better you’re wonderful son etc…” Then I asked her to do it on me whike refering to the points listed on the images and I did go numb for a bit but just let her keep going. It was quite good, but i didn’t have anything else to fix since I had already done the tennis ball exercise.

  47. My uncle is a Carpenter and I tried this on him and he agrees it is a hurt but feel good pain. He could tell a difference from before to after.

  48. I think that everyone should have their shoulders and SCM worked on. It is a good pain that many people like…

  49. I know a lot of family members that will love this technique. If only the knew that this technique will cause discomfort *evil laugh* but it will benefit a lot of people in the long run especially your clients! another amazing article!

  50. This technique definitely hurts so good!! I don’t like it but once you breath through it , it’s not so bad.. I will try it on everyone in my household and on my other family members. I could use it myself right now.. thank you Ross!

  51. I have very tight traps and lots of knots and trigger points in them. This technique works real well on them. I plan to use this in the future.

  52. I’ve been applying trigger-point with rotation to my wife lately and it has helped her out a lot. I’m going to ask her to read this article tonight so she can help maintain me.

  53. Just pressure on the trigger points feels hurt so good but when you start rotating your shoulder it has a deepening affect that makes you notice where the therapist is a lot stronger.

  54. I have a lot of people I know that will like this technique 🙂 Many of them complain of pain in their shoulders and it’s probably because of trigger points.

  55. This is one of my favorite massages to give and receive! I love to hurt so good:D. It really helps loosen my shoulders up for the rest of the day and I can work pain free!

  56. I would love for someone to do this one on me while I’m at work. My upper back and neck is really tight at work. My boyfriend has lots of neck issues I am going to try this one on him.

  57. My boos will I think like this technique. She is always complaining that her shoulders are hurting her, so I cannot wait to try out this technique.

  58. Nice article Ross. I think I need to buy a trigger point chart. All these points are making railroad crossings in my brain. I have lots of shoulder pain, especially with my torn rotator cuff. Thanks for the info. I do like all the blogs we have to choose from that are provided in treating the clients, but geeeeeee which one do I do first…lol

  59. I did this technique on a family member and they said it was relaxing and helped. However when it was done on me, it wasn’t so relaxing, thinking they didn’t do as I instructed.

  60. I have noticed that this is a common thing between students her and at clary. It’s always a very good hurt lol. I love trigger point and enjoy doing it as a therapist as well.

  61. This fantastic technique is definitely a “hurt so good”! I tried with a couple of friends and they were very much in agreement!

  62. I did this on my roommate and he liked the way it felt. he said it felt really good, to bad he wont do this for me lol.

  63. Read it! Try it! It Works !!
    For weeks I have had huge knots in my Trapezius & Latissimus Dorsi. Finding these trigger point that were causing such unexplained pain patterns which associate pain in one location with trigger points elsewhere wasn’t easy. I used the internet for diagnosis of trigger points to explain how they arise and why they produce specific patterns of referred pain. With a partner I was able to release a lot of the pain and tension I was experiencing. I hate trigger points but love knowing how and where to find them.

  64. I see my mom going to lay down with a towel or blanket wedged nice and tight against her occipitals I will have to try some of these trigger points on her and see if that is her problem.

  65. This technique sounds oh so good. I will definitely have to try it out on someone in return for them trying it out on me.

  66. Did the technique could feel that pain shoot down my arm but after about 20 seconds it really lightened up. Trigger points are so fascinating and helpful

  67. I LOVE having this spot massaged, and I really feel like clients would too. I have been wondering if t is a trigger point so this blog was really helpful for me. Thanks!

  68. This looks like it will feel amazing! And i’m sure I will be using it soon! My family is always wanting me to “try” out new things on them!

  69. This is something I am interested in trying. I definitely do not want to feel a lot of the wrong kind of pain. I am also interested in trying it on other people and I do not want to inflict the wrong kind of pain on them as well.

  70. I am going to try this technique on a partner soon. I enjoy the PNF techniques that we learn because I feel like they are more effective and important than just relaxation techniques. Not that swedish massage isn’t important. Everyone needs to relax. And following up some of these PNF techniques with swedish would be immensely beneficial and enjoyable. Particularly with this muscle mentioned. It tends to be very tender, and not a lot of people are going to want it touched much. However, there are times when this becomes a necessity. Following up with some good relaxation would be extremely enjoyable for the client. I just enjoy the PNF because I can noticeably feel the difference in the muscles and I feel like I am affecting more change.

  71. I did this exercise on my mom and she complained of it hurting a little but afterwards she felt great. Now she keeps asking me everyday! Thanks Ross!

  72. This actually really helped me when we performed it in lab. I thought it helped a lot. I’ll definitely be recommending it to others in the future.

  73. Thinking about this stuff causes me to have withdrawals from not have in massage in a long time. I started to fantasize about someone performing trigger point on me.

  74. I haven’t had a chance to try it on anyone yet, but I definitely will when I get home! Thanks!

  75. I get headaches all the time and I’m pretty sure its because of the crazy amount of knots in my neck and traps!

    1. I politely disagree Dacquari. Although pain is relative to each of us we have to be willing to allow the uncomfortable and possibly irritating idea of “change” into our lives and bodies for us to improve. Allowing the right kinda of pain can be very therapeutic. Yes, we must set limits but done correctly trigger point and other deep therapies ideas have brought a lot of relief to many clients.

  76. I never thought that being in pain could feel so good until I started school. Now I catch myself asking for more and more every massage I get.

  77. I would not like this because my are already go numb the way it is so I do not need anyone annoying a trigger point and making my arm go numb more threw the day

  78. I have worked on my moms traps her shoulders are tense I tried an elbow in shoulder area she said it felt good at first then too much pressure, I am glad I have these blogs to look at.

  79. I think this would be a great technique to try on someone and for a therapist to try on me. Thanks for the info.

  80. it works, im happy, clients happy. win win. tho ive been trying to avoid using the thumb, i found some pretty cool old chinese tools, that they use for acupressure and trigger points

  81. I haven’t tried this one yet so as soon as I get back to school I am grabbing a friend to do this to me! Thank you for all of your information. It makes me really sound experienced and educated in the field:)

  82. That is a simple technique that I am definitely going to use! Easy to remember and I don’t have to beg someone for their help. Easy for me, and them. Can’t wait to try it.

  83. The release of pressure with this technique is phenomenal. Mainly because that’s an area where I hurt most. It’s also really neat to be able to show someone else how to do this.

  84. Sharon showed this technique to me a few weeks ago because I was hurting so bad. She used this technique many times throughout the day and I was finally able to get some relief before school ended. I have since used it on family members and plan to use it for future clients.

  85. This is a good blog I can’t wait to have a friend try this on me when we get back to school. I carry a lot of stress between my shoulders and this would help release some of the pressure,

  86. I do this all the time to my boyfriend. He travels a lot for work and it causes him some really bad upper back pain. I’ve done it to him enough times that he can now do it to me. It nice not being the only one to give effective massage anymore.

  87. After much protest I tried this on my partner and he didn’t care for it. I don’t take this too personally because he doesn’t care much to be touch period. LoL! I’m anxious to try this on a few other family members when I get a chance to visit them.

  88. The website you listed at the end is awesome!! I am grateful to learn that with time and proper techniques, there is hope to help others and ourselves become pain free (or close to it)

  89. Sounds like a good technique for helping an achey friend.

    Having them add in movement is good because you can get more release from the muscle when combining trigger point with range of motion.

    And the friend will blame you for less of the pain since they are actively participating.

  90. These are some good tips for your back issues if you had any and hopefully your partner doesnt make it worse

  91. I have had to try and rotate my arm before with a different place being pressed in and I was already in so much pain. Although, the pain increased for a little bit it then backed off and stayed steady. And when I was released, I felt so much better, and the pain was barely there. I could move my shoulder and arm again with increased range of motion. The movement with the pressure makes an incredible difference.

  92. Wow never realized so many things could cause but this article is refreshing and I can look back to it during my career

  93. My family member sates, “It doesn’t do anything for me.” I felt referred pain on the right side up the side of my neck. Another way to release the origin of the lavatory scapula.

  94. The name of the article says it all, Hurts so Good. Trigger point is an effective technique and I really enjoy performing it.

  95. I did this to one of my sisters and it was difficult for me to find the right pressure at first because she already feels a light numbness in her arm all the time so I felt like once I found the right pressure I was hardly touching her at al.

  96. This one is a favorite at work. I work with a bunch of fellow servers and they’re always coming up to me and yelling “fix me!! fix me!!”. This is a common area of pain for all of us. I especially love showing them how to do it to me.

  97. i have horrible trigger points in pretty much all of the same place that the examples showed in this blog….and an elbow getting deep in my traps and hurting so good sounds AMAZING right now.

  98. Tried it on a family member and they enjoyed it. I believe this technique will help me along the way.

  99. This sounds like a great way to help relieve my headaches and pain. Hope we can try this in class this week.

  100. Justin Terrapin #
    02.03.2014 09:29
    After much protest I tried this on my partner and he didn’t care for it. I don’t take this too personally because he doesn’t care much to be touch period. LoL! I’m anxious to try this on a few other family members when I get a chance to visit them.

  101. Good blog I want to learn more about this. It nice to know that there is way to fix this.

  102. This is a great technique I’m looking forward to getting to try it on someone and vis versa.

  103. Looking forward to trying this one. Easy enough to teach someone to do it for you…like my 15 year old daughter. 🙂

  104. I guess my husband will be the lucky one to get this nice treat, I hope he will be up to trying it on me as it is much needed for me .

  105. Seeing all the people in the comments that have had success with these trigger points, I want to now incorporate this into my massage. Great article!

  106. My husband will be so excited when I try this on him! I will see if one of the other students will try these trigger points on me as well.

  107. I am excited to try this one. I have had some bad experiences with trigger point pain when getting a massage so I am looking forward to learning how to make it hurt so good, instead of just hurting.

  108. I’m going to try this on my mother because she sits at a computer all day and I think this technique will be good for her.

  109. I remember learning this on a chair. It is a feel so good hurt. And it felt nice after it was done. I am really going to use this.

  110. I cant wait to try these for myself. I am also excited to learn more about trigger points. I feel like i am constantly dealing with referred pain.

  111. Awesooome! tried this on my friend Michelle while having scones, and recieved it as well while having a scone myself. Made a world of difference (after the pain of course!) Easy for anyone to do, even Michelle.

  112. Trigger points can be very painful and uncomfortable. I know a lot of people who suffer from them this blog will come in handy for them!

  113. I love the fact that this blog shows you the trigger points there at the neck as well as those towards your back and spine. I know well that you have had problems both headache as well a back aches. This is a good blog to refer out to all that I have contact with in this business world to my friends and family to help with any acute pain to numbed pain.