A special thank you to professional triathelete, Morgan Chaffin, for writing this blog and sharing her experience.
I am very excited to share the news that Specialized Physical Therapy is now offering Functional Dry Needling treatment (FDN), which is used to treat neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement dysfunction. In this blog, I want to share my experience with the treatment, and how I used it to restore function in my lower leg and trapezius muscle before racing two consecutive weeks in both a triathlon and a gravel cycling competition. The technique involves using a thin monofilament needle that penetrates the skin and treats underlying muscular trigger points. A trigger point is defined as a hyperirritable spot, a palpable nodule in the taut bands of the skeletal muscles' fascia. When performed under the care of a licensed practitioner it is not only safe, but there is minimal discomfort involved.
Blake Jeffres, DPT, who is trained and certified in FDN, performed my treatments and was very thorough in explaining the process and any sensations/musculoskeletal feedback I would experience throughout the treatment. He explained the benefits associated with dry needling as part of a physical therapy program to restore proper function and movement patterns.
This brings me to my experience!
I was apprehensive with trying it on the lateral and anterior aspects of my lower legs being the tissue there is very superficial. I was worried that it would be painful but I shouldn’t have, there was minimal discomfort. Blake located areas of tightness and dysfunction, and immediately began the process of treating the area by inserting the thin monofilament needle along the lateral and anterior aspects of my lower leg. He then connected the needles to electrical stimulation which in turn activated the muscles and promoted correct neural muscular signaling. At the same time, it also allowed the muscles to relax while increasing their plasticity and range of motion. Next he performed the same procedure to my upper neck region (trapezius muscle).
The main benefits I experienced:
- Increased range of motion. Especially at my ankle joint and an increase in range of motion during swimming from the treatment of my upper trapezius.
- Decreased pain at rest and during movement
- Changes in my upper body posture- decreased forward head and slouching shoulders
- Greater ankle stability when running and cycling
- Enhanced recovery due to stimulating and increase of blood flow to the treatment areas
Blake concluded the treatment by explaining additional stretching/strengthening techniques that are recommended, to use in conjunction with the dry needling treatment, for the best outcome. Dry needling is most effective if it is combined with a physical therapy treatment plan that targets the underlying cause of dysfunction. I’m very thankful for the experience and plan to continue to using dry needling as a regular treatment modality to assist with muscle function and recovery.
If you’re interested in learning more about dry needling and how it may possibly help you make sure to reach out to SPT to learn about different treatment options.