dry needling therapy

Dry Needling Therapy, Blood Flow Restriction, & Cupping: Does It Work for Athletes?

After several months of restricted team sports, the athlete in your home is probably eager to get back out there and compete. Many athletes, both young and …ahem… not so young, will find sore muscles and injuries a drawback to their increased workouts, games, and competitions. You may be wondering if dry needling, blood flow restriction, or cupping therapy can help.

These techniques are time-tested and research-based. True Sports physical therapists are trained in all three procedures and have used them with great success. Read on for an explanation of how each one works and how each technique can benefit athletes.

Dry Needling

In dry needling, thin monofilaments are inserted into muscles, ligaments, tendons, and even scar tissue in order to increase the range of movement and to reduce pain. The filament needles inserted into myofascial trigger points create micro-trauma that jump-starts your body’s own healing process.

Although it may sound like acupuncture, this is a procedure based on Western science that has helped many athletes continue to play the sports they love. According to the Journal of American Board of Family Medicine, dry needling’s effectiveness has been confirmed in numerous studies and two comprehensive systematic reviews.

Blood Flow Restriction

Blood flow restriction (also called BFR Training) involves placing a cuff on an arm or a thigh at a set pressure, generally while an athlete is working out or training. This obstructs venous flow while still allowing arterial flow. The goal is to create the effects of high-intensity exercise during low-intensity exercise by limiting the amount of oxygen.

Benefits include increased muscle strength and building muscle, both important to athletes on their road to recovery after surgery or an injury. The physical therapists at True Sports have an expert-level foundation of knowledge in anatomy, physiology, therapeutic exercise, and the cardiorespiratory system as well as muscular and vascular anatomy and the monitoring of physiological vital signs and blood flow – all essential for administering BFR training safely.

Cupping Therapy

Remember when everyone wondered about the circles on Michael Phelps’s body in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics? That’s probably the moment when the general public first became aware of cupping, a practice that involves placing cups on the skin to create suction in order to increase blood flow, create healing, and alleviate pain.

However, athletes have long sworn by the physiological effects of this practice that started in China, thousands of years ago. The cups with manual suction are placed on the skin for 5-20 minutes. They decompress the tissue and increase blood flow, both of which reduce pain.  With a reduction in pain, athletes are able to achieve improved flexibility and complete physical therapy more effectively.

All three techniques— dry Needling, blood flow restriction, and cupping— are research-based, used widely, and effective, as documented in multiple peer review studies. Let the experts at True Sports help you decide which will be the most beneficial for you, whether you are a Saturday athlete, a Little League player, or the next Michael Phelps with your eye on future Olympic Games.  Trying to get back into shape after an injury is difficult, but True Sports has the team that’s on YOUR team. Together, we can get results.

True Sports has seven convenient locations across the Greater Baltimore Area. To schedule an appointment, call (410) 946-1672.

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