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Why Trigger Point Dry Needling can help endurance athletes

Posted on: December 23rd, 2013 by jongallas

Have you ever had a slight throbbing in your foot suddenly begin during a run?

You’re a few miles in to your run, and there it is.  Each step sends a little bit of pain up your leg, and you think everything’s going to be fine, but is it?  What if the pain lingers and then increases during your next run?  Next thing you know, you’re skipping workouts because of the pain.

Triathletes are scientifically proven to be tough, maybe even tougher than other endurance athletes, who are also quite tough, but how much pain can/should you endure before seeking treatment?

Remember that pain is your body telling you to slow down and rest.

Unfortunately, those slight pains often turn into full blown problems that keep people from staying active and enjoying life.

For example, Adam, a 42-year-old triathlete and former patient, experienced the same thing.  He had been training for an ironman distance triathlon when plantar fasciitis pain developed in his left foot and heel, but he didn’t plan to stop training.

About six months later, his pain was unbearable, and he stopped running.  He could still swim and bike with slight pain in his foot, but running was no longer an option.

If you have trained for any length of time, you’ve experienced some sort of pain or injury that needed your attention.  Adam’s injury needed more than the usual activity modification.

Conservative physical therapy didn’t work

Adam had already tried a more conservative physical therapy course, which gave him some relief, but did not completely eliminate his pain.

During conservative treatment, Adam underwent ultrasound, taping, ASTYM, and eccentric heel raises.

[quote]After Adam’s first TPDN treatment, he was able to run three miles with mild pain.[/quote]

With plantar fasciitis, it’s common to experience some relief from conservative therapy, but endurance athletes who continue to use (and sometimes abuse) their feet, often need to take a stronger approach.

What is Trigger Point Dry Needling (TPDN)

TPDN heals the body by promoting self-healing.  It essentially works as a catalyst for the body’s normal homeostasis system.  Your body wants to heal, but sometimes, it just can’t keep up, and that’s where TPDN can provide a great deal of benefit.

A therapist will insert small acupuncture needles in certain muscle trigger points, called myofascial trigger points, that are more sensitive than others.  The insertion attempts to create a muscle “twitch response,” which relieves the pain and causes the body to heal faster.

In Adam’s case, he had completely stopped running by the time he tried TPDN, and his therapist (me), decided to use TPDN on his lower spine, lower left leg, and his left foot and ankle.

Many people complain about some achy feelings or mild discomfort in the areas where the physical therapist inserts the needles.  Adam was no different, so if you are thinking about TPDN, be ready for some discomfort, but you can handle it, right?

Back to training

After Adam’s first TPDN treatment, he was able to run three miles with mild pain.  His second treatment allowed him to run ten miles without pain.

A third and final TPDN treatment was given to ensure that his symptoms would not return.

Adam is currently training for another ironman triathlon without symptoms in his foot when running, biking, or swimming.

Trigger Point Dry Needling has so much to offer those dealing with plantar fasciitis, and its benefits are experienced almost immediately, which means you can continue training without waiting and hoping that your unbearable pain will magically dissolve.