For those that know me you know how much I love to ride my bike.
I have raced, ridden for fun and even rode from Oceanside California to Durango Colorado in 2 days and 8 hours as part of a 4 man relay team in 2018.
All of that time spent on the bike has its pros and cons.
Let me explain. Getting in a good amount of cardiovascular work is definitely healthier than not doing anything although I may take it to an extreme.
Getting fresh air and being able to clear my head helps me stay focused and somewhat relaxed.
The bad side of it is that cycling is such a limited movement type activity compared to running, swimming or lifting weights. Basically you are in a hunched over position leaning on the handlebars while your legs are spinning at 90-100 RPMs for hours at a time.
This can lead to muscle imbalances, poor posture, headaches and weakness in muscles that are not utilized to say the least.
I have had times when I went to get off the bike and everything was so tight and stiff I went into full body muscle cramps…not fun.
So what happens when I get stiff or tight muscles, headaches or trigger points? What do you do when this happens to you?
Maybe from sitting at your desk for too long, standing on your feet all day at work, extra gardening or yard work on that nice spring day?
The way I handle it started with education.
Every year I take additional continuing education courses to keep my skills sharp.
Around 2008 a new technique was introduced to physical therapists that gave us an amazing opportunity to help people with muscle and joint pain.
I went to the class in Dallas and was blown away. I had been struggling with some chronic knee pain for several months. It happened on a long training ride as I was getting ready for the Hotter than Hell event.
For those that don’t know it is a 100 mile ride in Wichita Falls at the end of August usually in extreme heat.
On my ride that day I developed a very sharp pain along the inside of my right knee. It was so bad I stopped on the side of the road to “examine” my knee.
At times it was so bad I considered stopping the ride and calling my wife but did I? Of course not!! I rode on.
When I got home I did some tests on my knee to rule out a meniscus tear or ligament issue.
I tried massage, ultrasound, ice, heat, biofreeze rubs, TENs unit and rest but nothing seemed to work. The pain reduced but never went away.
The pain I felt was not as sharp or severe as the initial pain but I could always tell something was wrong. It was a dull achy feeling. I was able to train but didn’t feel like I had the power in my right leg.
I had to figure this out and I was looking for answers.
At the course I was talking to the instructor about my knee pain.
We were on a break and he had me get on the table. As he started pushing on the muscles around the knee I jumped when he hit “the spot” as it reproduced my pain.
I had a large trigger point in my right quadriceps muscle above the knee. This is what I had tried to massage without success.
He said I think this will help and then proceed to stick an acupuncture needling into the muscle. It started jumping and twitching, I won’t lie, it was pretty uncomfortable.
After several minutes of this he said it will be very sore for the next 2-3 days but that it should help.
Help it did, because I have not had that pain since!!!!
The course I was attending was Therapeutic Dry Needling.
Dry needling uses a small solid needle that is placed into a muscle that is tight, injured, or knotted. After the needle is put into the muscle it brings about two different responses that help the tissue heal.
- The first response is that the needle being placed into the trigger point or tight band will cause the muscle to twitch which then allows it to relax and the “knot” to go away.
- The second response is a local inflammatory response – as the needle causes the muscle to release certain chemicals which will further help the tissue repair. This is one reason that dry needling gives a longer “relief” response compared to alternative forms of deep tissue massage.
Basically it is the use of acupuncture needles to “release” the trigger points that can cause chronic pain, tightness and stiffness due to muscle imbalances, injuries, surgery, weakness, poor posture….you name it.
After getting certified in dry needling I have used it in my practice to help my patients get chronic pain relief with remarkable results.
I have had patients who have tried all sorts of other options (who were scared of needles) decide to give it a chance as a “last resort” and experience tremendous pain relief.
The cool thing is that the needle is so small that most patients don’t even feel it.
The only sensation most patients have is when the tight muscle is “hit” sometimes causing it to twitch.
Think of it as a really deep massage where they focus on putting pressure on the tight knots of your body – that is basically what most people feel when the needle reaches the trigger point.
I always tell my patients that using the needle helps us get to the deep trigger points regular massage can never hit or release.
So, what conditions benefit the most from dry needling?
Basically anything related to tight muscles or tendon injuries, headaches and nerve pain. I have even had success with arthritic joint pain.
One of my favorite conditions to treat is tension headaches – something that it seems most of us suffer with at one time or another. I have seen patients suffering with chronic, debilitating headaches that last for days get complete headache relief shortly after the session.
How about chronic low back pain that radiates into the legs? Needling can help that as well!!!
Since we see a good percentage of patients with chronic lower back pain in the clinic we use it often with great results. I have seen many people who suffer with chronic back pain note remarkable differences afterwards – some even stating their pain in their legs has improved after needling as well.
The list can go on and on.
Chronic knee pain, shoulder pain, elbow tendonitis even jaw pain (TMJ).
I have also used it to relieve nerve pain coming from the lower back, neck and face.
So how do you know if dry needling is right for you?
For starters you have to decide that you are going to be proactive in your health and do something about it.
It starts with our simple 3 Step Process.
- Schedule a FREE Discovery Visit with one of our experts.
- Receive a Customized (Individualized) Treatment Plan
- Get Your Life Back and Do What You Love
It really is that simple!
The first step is the hardest and I can’t take it for you but I can make it as simple and easy as possible.
“A healthy man has thousands of wishes, a sick man has only one”. –Agnes Karll Schwest Krankenpfleger
NEXT ACTION: If you are really serious about getting relief from your daily aches and pain and want to discover if dry needling is an option for you, start by calling 817-220-6677 today to schedule your FREE NO OBLIGATION Discovery Visit.
To your health,
Dr. Robert Moss PT, ScD, OCS, FAAOMPT
The author, Dr. Robert Moss PT, ScD is the owner of MOSS Rehabilitation Center in Springtown, TX. He is happy to help you get back to normal following an injury or surgery with The MAGICAL 5 Phases of Healing. You can contact Dr. Moss either by phone 817-220-MOSS (6677) or email email@example.com.
Dr. Craig Griebel PT
Contributing author, Dr. Craig Griebel is a licensed Physical Therapist at MOSS Rehabilitation Center who specializes in getting you out of pain and back to doing the things you enjoy most.