As most of you know, policing can be tough on the body for many reasons. Sitting in car for long hours, wearing a gun belt during a 12-hour shift, or getting into fights can leave you feeling broken over time. Sometimes, as strength and conditioning coaches, we are so focused on increasing performance that we forget how important recovery and restoration is to our clients that we serve. I have recently discovered dry needling as a means to relieve muscle pain and restore range of motion to my own aching muscles. In the following newsletter, we will discuss the dry needling process and explain how this technique can be beneficial your health and overall fitness. We have also attached a video demonstrating the technique so that you will know what to expect before trying it for yourself: https://youtu.be/DmCqgohtPRo .
Trigger point dry needling (TDN) is a technique performed by a licensed physical therapist. They use a single filament needle to release myofascial trigger points by inserting the needle through the skin and directly into the muscle. The goal of the physical therapist is to release painful trigger points and restore limited range of motion. Trigger points could be described as knots in the muscles that tend to form around injuries. These trigger points can inhibit oxygen rich blood from reaching an injured muscle and waste product from leaving. If left untreated, trigger points continue to form adding pain and decreasing function. It’s called “dry” needling because there is no solution injected into the body like there would be if you were given some sort of shot. The needle itself and the physical therapist guiding it performs the treatment. People often confuse dry needling with acupuncture. Although both techniques use sterile, disposable, single filament needles, dry needling is based on western medical research whereas acupuncture is based on traditional Chinese medicine.
I personally strongly endorse dry needling if you are having muscle pain due to trigger points and range of motion issues. For years I have been struggling through an old Jiu-jitsu injury that ran down my neck and underneath my shoulder blades. The knots that were forming become larger and more numerous as time went on. I tried foam rolling, laying and rolling on a lacrosse ball, professional deep tissue massages, and many more methods to break up the tissue that was causing the discomfort. All these methods helped a little but none achieved the results I got from just a 15-minute dry needling session.
Unlike massage sessions, dry needling sessions are pretty quick. The physical therapist will just be treating the damaged areas. I did not find the treatment painful at all. Most of the time I did not even feel the needle being inserted. Sometimes it took my therapist a couple of tries to find the trigger point, but when she hit it, my muscle in that area begin to twitch. She would then wiggle the needle around a bit before pulling it out. I felt an instant relief of tension in the muscle. She then would move on to the next trigger point until she didn’t feel any more. In all, I was treated three times in a month before I felt satisfied that I could continue training pain free. I will probably need another session or two about every three months to maintain my results. The physical therapist who treated me is a member at our gym and is available for dry needling treatment sessions if this is something you are interested in trying. Please contact us and we will get you set up for your first appointment.
Garrett Watson, LMPD Fitness Team, CSCS
1. https://www.activespineandsport.com/trigger-point-dry-needling-tdn 2. https://www.moveforwardpt.com/resources/detail/dry-needling-by-physical-therapist-what-you-should 3. https://www.painscience.com/tutorials/trigger-points.php