SCL Health Medical Group - Comprehensive Spine

Core Strenthening and Dry Needling

Core strengthening and dry needling can be used for a wide variety of musculoskeletal issues, such as shoulder, neck, heel, hip and back pain.

What is dry needling?

Dry needling is a form of therapy performed by physical therapists using small, monofilament needles inserted into muscle, tendon, ligament or fascia to stimulate a healing response in painful musculoskeletal conditions. Dry needling can:

  • Release trigger points in muscle tissue that cause pain, muscle spasm, and radicular symptoms.
  • Increase blood flow and circulation/  Promote tissue healing.
  • Reverse Chronic Pain Patterns Dry needling can interrupt pain signals to and from the brain, causing a positive chemical change in the surrounding tissue.
  • Relieve Headaches and TMJ-related pain

Dry needling is used to release trigger points via a local twitch response in the muscle. Once the trigger point is released, the muscle can begin to return to normal length and function. The normal micro-trauma caused by the needling stimulates a healing environment in the surrounding tissue. Dry needling combined with electrical stimulation has been shown to reverse centrally-mediated pain. 

What is involved in a typical dry needling session?

After being evaluated by a physical therapist, the therapist determines the location or area of the body to be dry-needled. Treatment can usually be completed in about 30 minutes and is often followed by heat or ice and /or specific exercises to re-train the affected muscles.

What is the “core” and why is core strength so important?

The core is a group of muscles that stabilizes and controls the pelvis and spine (and therefore influences the legs and upper body). Core strength is less about power and more about the subtleties of being able to maintain the body in ideal postures — to unload the joints and promote ease of movement. For the average person, this helps them maintain the ability to get on and off the floor to play with their children or grandchildren, stand up from a chair, sit comfortably at a desk, or vacuum and rake without pain. For athletes, it promotes more efficient movement, therefore preventing injury and improving performance. Having a strong or stable core can often prevent overuse injuries, and can help boost resiliency and ease of rehab from acute injury. The core also includes the pelvic floor musculature, and maintaining core stability can help treat and prevent certain types of incontinence.

The problem with a weak core

As we age, we develop degenerative changes, very often in the spine. The structures of the bones and cartilage are subject to wear and tear. Very often, we are able to completely control and eliminate symptoms with the appropriate core exercises. Having strong and stable postural muscles helps suspend the bones and other structures, allowing them to move better. Scoliosis, a curving or rotation of the spine, can also often be controlled with the correct postural exercises. Having an imbalanced core can lead to problems up and down the body. Knee pain is often caused by insufficient pelvic stabilization. Some runners develop neck and back pain when running because the “shock absorbers” in their core could use some work.

Finding the right core strengthening program for you

As with all programs and exercises, there is no “one right way” that works for everyone. Each individual is different and so a good way to strengthen your core is one that your body reacts the best to. Speaking with your physical therapist about which journey you should embark in is a great first step. They can listen to your needs and find you a great workout that is in tune with your body and works great for your needs. It’s important to realize that to truly utilize a strong core you need to understand your body. Once you figure out which exercises or programs work best for you, you can then incorporate healthy and safe core movements into your daily life, which will help lead to a healthier life.

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