In a recent survey of recreational runners, 50% reported sustaining a running-related injury at least once in any given year. The most common injuries cited were strains and sprains in the legs, back, knees, ankles and feet. These injuries can knock a runner off track for several weeks or even months! Trigger point dry needling can cut that recovery time in half, in many cases.
Let’s break down this mouthful we call trigger point dry needling: instead of acupuncture points, the practitioner utilizes “trigger points,” or sensitive areas of the muscle (commonly known as muscle knots); the “needling” or needles for this therapy are inserted directly into trigger points, much deeper than acupuncture needles are inserted; and “dry” just means that medication is not being administered through the needle.
Trigger point dry needling achieves results faster than other methods because the use of needles allows a practitioner to target tissues that are not reachable through massage or physical therapy. This direct contact with muscle fibers effectively inactivates trigger points, relieving pain, reducing muscle tension, and improving range of motion. The only side effect of this treatment is some muscle soreness for 24 hours. Compare that to the potential side effects of regular nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) use – namely ulcers, internal bleeding, and kidney dysfunction – and the choice becomes even clearer.
This treatment is especially effective for acute muscle pain like plantar fasciitis or a pulled hamstring, two of the most common ailments that plague runners:
Plantar fasciitis occurs in the plantar fascia, the sheet-like ligament that connects the bottom of your heel bone to the first bones of your toes, supporting the arch in your foot. When functioning normally, the plantar fascia absorbs the shock of your heel striking the ground. Prolonged running on hard surfaces, wrong shoes or walking on uneven surfaces, can cause trigger points in the calf muscles that pull on the plantar fascia. That, and the repetitive stress to the plantar muscles cause inflammation, resulting in stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot near your heel. Trigger point dry needling is a very effective treatment for pain relief from plantar fasciitis, particularly when the problem has been resistant to other treatments. Some clients have reported a 60-70% reduction in pain after only two weeks and four treatments.
A strain or pulled hamstring is an injury to one or more of the muscles at the back of the thigh. This happens when the muscle is stretched beyond its capacity or subjected to a sudden overload, such as during sprinting. Trigger point dry needling relieves hamstring pain and promotes healing of the muscle tissue, but the effects go beyond that: regular treatments actually prevent future injuries like this from happening. In other words, trigger point dry needling reduces muscle tightness, imbalance, and fatigue, which are all risk factors for muscular strain.