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What is Dry Needling?

Hey, it’s Jennifer. We get a lot of questions from people about dry needling services here at Peak Endurance. I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about what dry needling is, and why you might use it, because, yes, we do offer it here at Peak Endurance!

If you’ve never heard of dry needling or you’re wondering what is dry versus wet, dry needling uses a solid needle to penetrate a tight muscle; we’re not injecting a fluid or a medicine into your body which is why it’s called dry needling versus wet needling. 

The needles are about 1/20, the size that you experience when you’re getting blood drawn, for example. They’re  the same needles that are used for acupuncture.

How is dry needling different from acupuncture?  Acupuncture follows an Eastern medicine, holistic way of thinking and stays very surface on the skin, whereas dry needling is more of a western approach that identifies a problematic muscle, and that’s the muscle that is dry needled specifically. Both have good evidence for helping to manage pain and reduce sensitivity, but there’s just a little difference in the approach. For acupuncture, you also usually leave the needles in for like an hour, and with dry needling, they’re just in there for a few minutes.

There are a few thoughts as to why dry needling works: Whenever you have a tight muscle or a sensitive muscle, there’s a lot of input from your brain going to that muscle,  basically telling it to contract. The needle disrupts that neurological input to the muscle and helps it reset, remember how to be a well functioning muscle and how to relax a little bit to just reduce that sensitivity.

Second, when you insert the needle into a muscle, you’re inserting a foreign object, and that’s causing a little injury to the muscle. Your body works to heal that injury from the needle, and while it’s doing that, it can also heal the larger injury that we’re dealing with (which is mostly from increased blood flow.)

Additionally, when you have a muscle that’s contracting, there’s calcium ions that are helping those reactions happen in your body. The metal of the needle is thought to disrupt the flow of those calcium ions and help reduce the sensitivity of the muscle that way.

Now you have a little more information about dry needling. If you feel like you have a tight muscle that won’t let go or you’re experiencing a very sensitive area, it might be something that we could discuss using as one intervention in conjunction with the proper, loading and mobility and those kinds of things that we also do at Peak Endurance. I’m always happy to have a discussion with you, but just wanted to share some information so that you feel a little more knowledgeable about what you’re considering. 

Here at Peak Endurance Performance & Physical Therapy we help active adults in the Madison Area get back to the activities they love without pain or limitations. We see people of all ages, ability levels, and individuals trying to get back to a multitude of movements including: getting back into running, women postpartum, CrossFit athletes, climbers, gymnasts, wrestlers, overhead athletes, and your recreational weekend warrior. If you’re looking to get back to the activities that give you meaning, relieve stress, and make you feel like you again, feel free to reach out below and we’ll see if we’re the right fit for you.