Thursday, March 7, 2013

Dry Needling, Balance Exercises and Other Fun

This afternoon I had my first physical therapy session. And by first I mean very first. Ever.

After some basic questions about my injury and its history, Nick, my therapist, began by having me walk down a hall and then up some stairs a couple of times. He just watched.

Then we moved to a massage table out in the main therapy room. Unlike your typical doctor's office, this room, in addition to a couple of tables, had exercise balls, BOSU balls, some machines and of all things a Wii Fit!

Alas, I did not get to play any games. Instead, Nick had me perform some tasks such as lifting my weight up on my toes, one leg at a time. This left me feeling a little sore, but not in pain.

Then he had me do some tests where I would resist his efforts to pull my legs and feet in different directions. As near as I could tell, this was all diagnostic.

The diagnostics became more focused on my specific injury. Various poking and prodding seemed to tell him that the soleus muscle in both legs was very tight. Once he had this determined, he was ready to proceed with actual treatment.

The process is called dry needling. The procedure is similar to acupuncture but the focus of the therapy and the way each works is different. Essentially the area of attention is treated by creating tiny hemorrhages which then induce collagen and protein formation. That's not to say that I was stuck with needles until I bled. Externally, there was no blood at all. In fact, hours after the treatment, I don't even show bruises on my leg.

What did happen is that each time, the affected area twitched and I could feel a slight twinge, but not what I would call actual pain. It was weird and a little uncomfortable, but not painful. Once a handful of applications were complete, Nick applied heat to my calves for probably about 15 minutes.

Then I was done. Well, done for today. I'll be back next week for my treatment like this. He thinks I might be able to start running again in another week or two which makes me happy. Even if I can't be ready for the marathon, it will feel good just to be out there.

Between now and next week, I've been given a series of exercises and stretches. As part of the assessment, he noted that my balance is not particularly good and these will help with that as well as loosening the soleus muscle. I only need to do them a couple of times over the next week.

At the moment, my right calf feels sore, like maybe I had been running up steep hills earlier. That should go away in a day or two and then it will be back to my routine as long as everything feels okay.

I'll continue to post here on any updates.

Thanks for reading!

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