Early Season Injuries

So, it’s March and we’re all excited that football is beginning, and preseason is usually a time where everyone is working to get their match fitness to an adequate level. This can be very beneficial in preventing soft tissue injury if done correctly, however the beginning of the season is when we see a large proportion of soft tissue injuries. This can be due to overtraining and putting too much stress on our body too quickly or undertraining and coming into a game underdone in which leaves us susceptible to injury.

However, besides a strong block of training there are some further measures we can take to minimise the risk of soft tissue injuries. Warming up properly is a vital step in getting your body prepared for a match (or training). Making sure we are warming up specifically to the sport we play holds many benefits such as:

– Increased blood flow to working muscles.

– Increased flexibility.

– Improved joint function.

– Increased neural firing.

– Increased coordination.

Recovery is the other major factor when it comes to injury prevention, for a lot of people this means ice, stretching etc… whilst these can be beneficial there are much more vital aspects to recovery. Sleep may be the single most important aspect of recovery as it is when the body repairs itself. Making sure we achieve ~8 hours of sleep per night will be one of the largest factors in injury prevention as we are getting maximal recovery.

Nutrition is also important as absorbing the right nutrients allows for a more desired recovery outcome. Not only what we eat, but when we eat will impact recovery and even performance. For more advice on Nutrition it is important to seek the help of a healthcare professional. Along with diet, making sure we consume enough water pre, during and post exercise is vital in preventing dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat stroke as well as muscle cramping and maintain general wellbeing.

What is Dry Needling?

Dry needling is often referred to as a westernised version of acupuncture,
where extremely thin needles are inserted into the skin and muscle in order to
reduce muscle tension and increase recovery to any injured tissue. Dry
needling is great way to release trigger points, reduce pain and restore
restricted movement.

Dry needling for the most part isn’t painful, initially there is a short sharp
sensation of the needle hitting the skin then it should be generally painless.
Sometimes we can feel a dull ache when we hit a trigger point, this will subside
when the muscle releases.

Post needling, it is common to feel muscle tightness as there is a degree of
muscle damage done with this modality. This can linger from 2-48 hours
depending from person to person. It is recommended to use heat on the area
and stretch for the rest of the day following the dry needling to help with any
acute discomfort.

When do we recommend dry needling?
For some people that are in too much pain for hands on techniques dry
needling is a really good tool to release a muscle without having to deal with
the pain of massage when it is too sensitive. However dry needling can be
effective with chronic pain, muscle guarding or spasming and many other
presentations. It will depend from practitioner to practitioner on when they
choose to utilise dry needling.

How does dry needling work?
We are still not 100% sure of the mechanism behind dry needling but the
evidence is becoming stronger to support its efficacy. There is a growing body
of data that shows that dry needling has a significant effect on muscular and
neurological level on the target tissue. The two major ways that dry needling
can affect muscle tone are:

Trigger point needling – Trigger points are essentially what people call ‘knots’
in their muscles. To put it simply, Trigger points are segments of muscle that
become fixed in a contracted position. The sustained tightening of the muscle
not only limits range of motion but becomes painful to touch or when moving
that muscle. When we needle these trigger points it relaxes the muscle, this
has been shown through studies that monitor this process via
Electromyography (EMG) imaging.

Neural Sensitisation needling – Essentially neural sensitisation is when the
nervous system becomes overactive into a particular area. This can be caused
my many things (repetitive stress on a muscle, injury, anxiety etc..), initially the
nervous system guards the area for protection, but overtime it can become
stuck in an overactive state which causes ‘warning signals’ to be sent to the
area causing pain hypersensitivity. Dry needling can work wonderfully in this
scenario because our nervous system can only process one stimulus at a time.
By inserting the Needle to the area, it acts as a ‘reset’ for the nervous system
and downregulates any of these pain signals that have been overactive.

Who do I see for dry needling?

All Myotherapists undergo a year of training to be qualified in dry needling and
is a mandatory part of the qualification. However, any allied health care
professional is able to undergo post-grad courses to practice dry needling. This
includes physio’s, osteo’s, chiro’s etc… If this is something you think could
benefit you, feel free to book in to the clinic and we can discuss it as a possible
treatment option for you!