PT Tidbits…The Dry Needle

Success is not forever and failure isn’t fatal

        — Don Shula

Don Shula was correct when he said that you basically cannot “revel in one’s own successes” forever because someone is always gunning for you. And failure is anything but “fatal” because lessons learned from such failings so one can learn to attain future successes. Ok, so how does this apply to a box of donuts? Oh wait, wrong post. I meant to say, how does this apply to the needling of my hamstring…huh? Ok, how about how does this relate to the combination of a needle and a soft thing? 

You see yesterday was an interesting day at physical therapy. I limped in after a tough morning of pain (comes and goes but that pain is now more isolated). The PT immediately went to work on the injury and at once I was wincing in pain as she massaged the area below the knee in the calf area. Upon discovering that the PT was having little luck loosening up the hamstring this morning, we ventured into something I have never visited before: “Dry Needling.” Here is a brief rundown before I advance this further. 

The way she described the process to me was this: The goal is to loosen up tight muscles and normally the way to do it is through the massaging technique that was used on my calf earlier in the session, that attempt to hit pressure points in the muscle . Having realized that the techniques were not working or “deep enough,” the next step was to use a needle to get deeper (as she said, her fingers are not small enough to fit through layers of muscle). As the needle moves through the muscle, I could feel spasms of the pressure points of the muscle and in turn, “untightening”of the area. The relief of these pressure points reduced the pain that was moving through my knee to the calf, and the PT was successful in loosening things up…to the point that almost all the pain I had prior to the appointment was gone!

The best I can describe of the feeling from dry needling is this: think of a time when you had your tooth drilled for a cavity (or any dental activity that included some work near nerves). When the pressure of the drill hits the nerve (or the area near a nerve), you felt it though with the area probably numb, it was basically only pressure to you. It did not fee like my enbrel shots which hurt as the meds move through the needle into my leg. It was much more like a “prick” and an occasional discomfort. While it did it feel good at times, as my hamstring was very tight, in the end, it loosened things up dramatically – to the point that today, I still feel loose in the area!

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This dry needling “unearthed” some insights into my problem I am having as the PT observed. First, what we realized in the last appointment was that I lacked much flexibility in my legs which creates tension in all those parts of the leg compensating for such. Since then, I have been doing a calf stretch of sorts that works on increasing the flexibility in the area. It is an area below the calf that has often given me issues over the last few years by the way. As we work through issues like the lack of flexibility, the PT is getting closer to isolating the ultimate problem I am having and perhaps it is not  the calf or knee at all! That is what is most imazing about this rehab process. 

So what is next? Well, I am onto some foam rolling of the hamstring, ITB, the calfs and the quads. This is a three times a week routine joining this calf stretches that I have been employing. In addition, I will continue to work on my core and upper body to remove the pressure on my legs that a weak core has brought over the past year. My best running times and performance of the past few years came when I was doing my core work. For much of 2016, I did not do the core work much and as a result, the injuries mounted as my legs were doing all the work. 

I return to the PT tomorrow so I will have some more insights probably in my #5forFriday post (that hopefully comes out sooner than next Monday btw). Also, just in case you missed it but you can save 20% at the legend compression site at checkout with code “Rave20.”

Ok, off to the gym. Thank you for reading!


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