I finally admitted defeat after this morning’s run – I just couldn’t relax my calf muscles. So off to the physio I go for the first time since I broke my foot in 2008.
Initially the session ran much as I expected it would, ice, massage, ultrasound, more massage, and then my therapist suggested she try some Dry Needling in the tight areas of my leg that just wouldn’t release.
What’s that? Needles at a Physio session? That’s new!
I’ll try most things once so I agreed to give Dry Needling a try.
How it was performed & what it feels like…
Obviously for me, the jabs were to be had in the back of my leg. It was a no fuss, process of lying face down on a standard massage bed, having my legs cleaned with an alcohol swab, and relaxing while my calf was lightly probed for a muscle knot. Then quick as a flash in went a needle.
I didn’t feel the needles enter my skin at all! They only way I knew they’d entered was the sensation of light pressure against the back of my leg (as if I was leaning against something). For one particularly bad knotted area I had a slow throbbing sensation from within my leg almost immediately, but once again zero pain.
The needles themselves are about 5cms – 7cm long with a thicker (non pointy) end for the therapist to manipulate and then a super fine end for inserting into the
willing victim patient. They were inserted about 2 – 3cm in my calf.
How long does it take?
With my legs being treated concurrently the whole process was split into two five minute sessions, there were between 5-10 needles in each leg. My responsibility throughout was to relax, tough gig right?
At five minutes the needles were each gently given a rotation, which increased the pressure sensation slightly in my left leg, but not enough to distract me from my relaxing.
At ten minutes the needles came out. A very quick process with just one tiny drop of blood on my left leg. Again I didn’t feel the needles at all. Apparently I received some expected red marks on my left leg, but my right leg was blood & mark free.
Outcomes for me:
Wikipedia defines Dry Needling as “the use of solid filiform needles for therapy of muscle pain”. A brief scan of the Wiki page indicates the jury is out on the therapeutic value of the practice.
But WOW people! I’m sitting here four hours later and it feels like I had a several-hours long, deep tissue massage on my calves, it certainly added something extra to a standard physio visit for me.
I’m banned from running for the next 11 days, which sucks, but I’m glad I finally visited a physio about my overly tight calf muscles because this evening I can walk down stairs without a death-grip on the banister. Which for me, after months of tightness making that decent perilous, is a bloody miracle.
My legs are apparently going to relax further over the next 48 hours so I’ll update later with my feedback on any possible extended benefit.