Well firstly I want to clarify that it is not acupuncture. While the needles used are the same the system and methodology behind their use are different.
Acupuncture – Works or meridian points an lines to help balance energy or chi in the body
Dry Needling – Looks at trigger points and motor points to bring about relaxation or activation of the muscle and connective tissue.
Benefits of dry needling on the physiological level
Strengthening of tendons and ligaments – Inflamed tendons and ligaments respond to the dry needling by localised blood that is drawn to the area. As tendons and ligaments are not as well supplied with blood the knock on effect is quicker removal of debris and nutrients that enables new collagen production.
Deactivates trigger and motor points – the needle affects the motor point by desensitisting the surrounding tissue it innervates allowing the oversensitive tissue to relax. Similarly the trigger points are depolarized and the shortened muscle fibers can relax and lengthen.
Stimulation of the Golgi tendon and muscle spindles – light rotation or flicking illicit a stretch-relax on fired up muscles
Activate muscles after trauma – the chemical response from trauma keeps a muscle in an inhibited state. Dry needling affects the chemical response in the area through neurotransmitters and endorphin response. This in turn bring the area to life
To summarise, dry needling can affect the muscle and fascia simultaneously. This enables in some cases the change can be quicker with the help of manual therapy to bring a quicker change than with manual therapy alone.
Lower leg injury, prevention and rehab
Stretch or Roll
As a person gets massaged they soon realise the areas that need a little extra love and attention. The question I get from there is what should I do, stretch more or use a roller?
The answer comes with what the muscle or connective tissue requires. So let me quickly review each option then talk about when to stretch or roll
Stretching – Used to lengthen a muscle and/or it’s connective tissue. Muscle takes 20-40sec while the fascia and connective tissue take 90sec to 3 min.
* Little benefit pre exercise as studies have found but great to do warm after exercising.
*A BIG mistake some people make is to stretch a muscle that is already under tension. A muscle under tension will be sensitive and feel “tight” as a result of being constantly under a stretch. Stretching will give temporary relief but further create an imbalance where the muscle is over lengthened.
*Hyper mobile persons should also minimise stretching where possible.
Rolling – Increase circulation, align muscle fibers, trigger pointing. Foam rollers are common but you could use the Trigger Point rolling equipment, tennis balls or even a rolling pin if your game
* Good pre exercise to get circulation going.
* Slow rolling anytime to open up circulation and work through trigger point and release the fascial layer
* Not appropriate if swelling/inflamamtion is present or you have varicose veins.
In my opinion rolling is nearly always beneficial as it promotes health through circulation and supports the natural state of a muscle. With a good understanding of your body stretching is really beneficial for balancing it’s tension . As long as your stretching shortened tight muscles and not muscles already under tension. If you want to ask a question in regard to anything I have outlined feel free to contact me.