Running Injuries: Treating TFL with Dry Needling

In our last post we addressed how trigger point dry needling can help with running injuries, specifically plantar fasciitis and pulled hamstring. But acupuncture’s effectiveness isn’t limited to these conditions and can be used to treat a wide range of injuries that even recreational runners sometimes sustain. We previously mentioned that a recent survey found 50% of recreational runners suffer from at least one running-related injury per year — repeat, at LEAST one.

Running impacts the entire lower half of your body, so your feet, ankles, calves, thighs and hips are all susceptible to injury. Your hips in particular can be affected by a condition known as TFL.

TFL in RunnersTFL stands for Tensor Fasciae Latae, a small muscle located by the hip that connects to your iliotibial band (aka IT), a tendon that runs from your hip down to your thigh separating your quads from your hamstrings. Your TFL is essential for a range of movements, from keeping one foot in front of the other when you walk to allowing you to move your leg out to the side. In essence, TFL stabilizes your hip. Running, but also sitting for long periods of time, can cause your TFL to tighten and shorten resulting in different types of pain: hip pain, pain similar to sciatic pain (caused in part by the IT) and even knee pain (the IT ends just above the knee).

Treating TFL with Acupuncture

These types of pain can often be misdiagnosed and thus treated improperly. Sometimes a person will be directed to do stretches and utilize a foam roller which is a correct approach but often exercises the IT, the wrong area for relief from pain in the TFL.

To treat the pain and the underlying issue you need to work directly on the TFL. Stretches and massage are useful tools. Because they can help you maintain the flexibility of the hip, which is essential to lengthening TFL.

Trigger point dry needling can treat the pain in the short term and relax the muscle in the long term. Relaxing the muscle is essential to successfully treating TFL pain and lengthening the muscle.