MEL’S MEANDERING MASSAGE MIND: HOW DRY NEEDLING “SAVED MY LIFE…”
For most of my life I have noticed that my range of motion with my right shoulder isn’t quite up to par with my left. My right anterior deltoid has been in contraction for what seems like forever and I get headaches due to muscular tightness in my upper traps.
For relief in the past, I have gone to massage therapists, chiropractors and physiotherapists, seeking help for ailments that limit my training. Thus far, it has usually been focused on my shoulders and upper back, and the everything has worked temporarily, but I wanted a more permanent solution.
So I asked Bailey (our brilliant physio) to dry needle my upper traps a few times. For those of you who aren’t in the know, dry needling (also know as intramuscular stimulation -IMS) is similar to acupuncture but also completely different. It uses needles to go into trigger points in the muscle belly to try to alleviate the cause of the pain rather than using specific acupuncture points to achieve the same result.
So Bailey dry needled my traps, and lo and behold, my headaches have gone away. What’s more, the contraction in my anterior deltoid also disappeared without her even touching it.
Not only has the pain relief been liberating, but the release of my traps has elevated the quality of my workouts; now when I bench press, my right shoulder no longer comes out of position (which used to throw off my bench press constantly). This means I’m now able to begin fixing muscle imbalances that have been creeping up; which means I’m going to be able to ultimately bench more weight! Getting my shoulder fixed has been amazing and is getting me back into lifting with more confidence.
If this doesn’t have you convinced already: a couple of weeks ago, I hurt myself in the gym. It’s not something that happens often, but when it does, it can be debilitating. On this particular occasion, I couldn’t move due to a rib which had decided it didn’t like its current position and moved slightly out of place. Ouch.
Although seeing Bailey with an acute injury is not always recommended (in most cases, there is nothing that can be done right away), I truly believe that if I didn’t get in to see her, I wouldn’t have recovered so quickly. As it was, I had to cancel my day of massaging; had I not seen her, I’m sure I would have been out for the rest of the week. And believe me, no one wants me to cancel my day; it means you don’t get the treatment that you want and we have to scramble to find another time to get you in quickly!
Now, I don’t want to say that dry needling is for every body, because it’s not. But I have found that this modality works wonders for me that other modalities (massage, chiropractic, and general physiotherapy) haven’t been able to touch. I am grateful for Bailey helping me out with all this, and I couldn’t ask for a better physio to work with!
Melissa Beals is an RMT with Whole Therapy. Melissa works extensively with athletes of all levels with a goal in mind to increase their athletic performance through education and understanding of their bodies. See more about Melissa here.