Runner's World (UK) - - Injury Treatment -

It’s used by WHAT IS IT? phys­ios who want to reach prob­lem ar­eas of tis­sue deep in a mus­cle. They in­sert thin (acupunc­ture-like) nee­dles into tense bands of mus­cle. ‘Nee­dles can solve a prob­lem that stan­dard soft-tis­sue work hasn’t been suc­cess­ful with, as it can reach the ar­eas other tech­niques can’t reach,’ says sports phys­io­ther­a­pist David Wells ( phys­i­cal­pro­ject.co. uk). ‘It causes mus­cles to re­lax, blood flow to in­crease and the body’s heal­ing process to be­gin,’ says physio Scott Ep­s­ley.

WHAT DOES IT TREAT? ‘It’s great for re­leas­ing stub­born mus­cles and fas­cia – most suc­cess­fully in ath­letes with ITB syn­drome, trou­ble­some calves and glutes that don’t want to re­lease,’ says Wells.

HOW EF­FEC­TIVE? There is a grow­ing body of ev­i­dence show­ing the ben­e­fits of dry needling.

WHO’S HAD IT? Three-time Iron­man world cham­pion Mirinda Car­frae uses the therapy when she is deep in train­ing. While Car­frae says deep-tis­sue mas­sage work al­le­vi­ates most of her prob­lems, some­times she’ll have a ‘su­per tight mus­cle’ that just won’t loosen up. For these cases, she turns to dry needling, which ‘can go deeper and only takes a ses­sion or two to help the mus­cle re­lax.’

The nee­dles DOES IT HURT? are very fine, so there is min­i­mal dis­com­fort upon en­try. Once the nee­dles pen­e­trate the trig­ger point, ex­pect a dull pain, sim­i­lar to some­one press­ing on a bruise. The nee­dles re­main in the trig­ger point for five to 15 min­utes, or are in­serted and with­drawn from the area sev­eral times. ‘In the ma­jor­ity of ap­pli­ca­tions dry needling is less painful than stan­dard man­ual therapy,’ says Wells.

Dry WHO OF­FERS IT? needling is now of­fered by many phys­io­ther­a­pists and clin­ics across the UK.

From WHAT’S THE COST? around £40 per ses­sion.

Ep­s­ley TREAT­MENT PLAN? says run­ners re­quire from two to seven ses­sions over a few weeks. If the is­sue doesn’t im­prove after mul­ti­ple treat­ments, he says, ‘some­thing other than a soft-tis­sue is­sue, like a stress frac­ture, may be caus­ing the prob­lem’.

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