Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Rendition of AC/DC

About a year ago I was suffering from an acute Achilles thing (sadly, totally my fault) and my DC PT pulled yet another trick out of her bag: dry needling.  The science behind dry needling, at least as practiced on me, is to break up muscle tension (knots) by causing a twitch response in the tense tissue, working along the affected muscle/tendon/ligament chain.  I was impressed by the results, which were a cured Achilles tendon in about a third of the usual healing time.

After IM Brazil I developed a niggle which I thought would respond well to the same or similar treatment.  The referral system running just beneath the calm exterior of the Austin triathlon community pointed me toward a great woman named Karen who specializes in acupuncture, aided by e(lectrical)-stim(ulation).  The innervation of our bodies' muscles is essentially a house wired for the highly sophisticated flow of electrical current.  When that flow is misdirected or disrupted completely, Karen's practice tries to re-start it by reconnecting the points of the muscle chain through which the current would - should - flow.

Specifics and semantics aside, both treatments do their magic by sticking needles into your body and hooking you up to a car battery.

You can barely see the needles in my ankles...to literally GROUND ME

I exaggerate only about the size of the battery.

I swear it does not hurt.  Ok, the one needle I had inserted directly into my Achilles wasn't too pleasant, but other than that, a pin-prick then [pfft].  The application of the current, whether car battery or e-stim unit, is a deep throbbing, not a shock.  Think an over-zealous massage chair, not sticking a 9V battery on your tongue.  In dry needling's case, the current is not applied for very long, just long enough to elicit the twitch, the sign that your muscle has "let go" of its tension (aka the knot).  Karen's practice is a longer application, waiting for the current on each needle to become apparent, then for the entire chain to throb as one, and then the area to go numb as the system through which electricity would normally, but does not currently, flow once again finds it totally normal that electricity is flowing.

But as someone who has a very tentative truce with needles, I think it was best that I was face down.  Here's what was sticking into my glute.

I did flip over for the "system reset," during which I kept my eyes closed so I did not see the needle stuck right between my eyes.

I am always searching for effective therapies and treatments to add to my bag of tricks.  No one treatment solves every injury and (almost) every injury is best solved by multiple treatments, so having as many options as possible at your disposal is invaluable.  Check out a therapist in your area, SSPT in DC, or if in/around Austin, I'm happy to put you in touch with Karen.

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