My (lack of) progress in PT has led to trying out some more intensive treatments. Most recently, this involved dry needling. Don’t be intimidated by the name – it’s not nearly as scary as it sounds. Dry needling is basically the same thing as acupuncture, just with a different emphasis. acupuncture focuses on the meridians in the body (for example, this might include sticking needles in your feet to improve back problems), whereas dry needling stimulates homeostasis points in the body to try to help muscles reset themselves by tensing and relaxing.
The process starts with an explanation (provided above), then follows with sticking in the needles. The location and severity of the complaint determines how many needles you get and what size. Mine started in the IT band (2-inch needles), moved down along the inside and outside of my shin (mostly 1-inch needles), and ended with some around the ankle, in march, and the top of my foot (1/2-inch needles).Right leg and left leg. As you might imagine, it takes quite some time to place that many needles. The needles are supposed to “simmer” for about 10 minutes so by the time the T had finished placing needles in both my legs, she began to take them back out.
Throughout the needling experience, felt no pain. The needles are tiny, they didn’t hurt going in, and I didn’t even register their intrusion in my muscles. However, my body acted as if I were suffering immensely. You know how your breath kinda catches when you’re bracing yourself for pain – slightly shallow, holding your breath, and gritting your teeth? I started breathing that way before she had even finished my first leg. Nothing in my body actively hurt, so I was confounded and astonished to find myself reacting that way. Must be the homeostasis points. At the end of the whole experience I felt exhausted and my legs felt as tired as if I had just finished a long, hard race. The result was not what I anticipated for my short time lying on a table with miniscule needles all over my legs.
I was strongly encouraged not to run for the rest of the day, which was easy enough considering my utterly drained state at the end of the treatment. The immediate reaction eventually abated, and by the end of the day, nothing felt out of sorts. Another important thing to remember about muscles, though, is that things often work themselves out overnight as the body rests. The next morning, I woke up with massive knots in my IT bands that I am still trying to roll out. Note to self: muscles carry a lot of tension.