Recovery is a buzzword in the health, fitness, and sports worlds.  Optimizing nutrition, sleep, gentle movement, and mental stress management techniques are important and effective, but many of us still struggle to get our nervous system in a true recovery state.  Dry needling can give you the boost you need.

What is dry needling? 

Dry needling is a manual therapy technique that utilizes acupuncture needles to promote self-healing via normalized soft tissue mobility, appropriate nervous system function, and enhanced blood flow.  Traditionally used to address a specific injury, we now know that you can extrapolate these effects to promote total body recovery from competition, training, mentally/emotionally taxing events, or the cumulative effects of day to day stress.

How does it work?

Following a specific map of 24 points (on each side of the body), thin, flexible, solid filaform needles are inserted into and left in place for 15-30 minutes.   You can add electrical stimulation to the needles to “turn up” the effects of the treatment. This protocol promotes the switch from a sympathetic (fight or flight) state to a parasympathetic (rest and recover) state.

Who is it for?

Let’s face it:  most of us are stressed out all the time, and even when we find time to eat, sleep, and move well, we struggle to calm our bodies and minds to the point where true recovery can occur.  Anyone who lives in this sympathetic state and needs help to promote effective recovery can benefit from dry needling, from the competitive athlete to the C-suite executive to the busy parent. 

Under-recovered people will complain of:


Difficulty sleeping

“Heaviness” of a limbs/body

Mental health concerns – anxiety, depression, always “stressed out”

Poor athletic performance

Takes longer to feel “normal” after a workout or competition

Tight muscles

Generalized soreness/achiness

Catching every little bug

Frequent injuries


Does it hurt?

No.  Dry needles do not feel like the needles/injections you are used to.  Most of the pain associated with an injection is due to the fluid being pushed into your body, not the actual needle.  Since we use a solid needle and aren’t injecting anything, this pain is eliminated. Most of the time, you don’t feel the prick of the needle.  Some points may be achey or twitch, which is an indication that the tissue is sensitized and needs treatment.  Many people feel next to nothing during the recovery protocol.

How will I feel after the treatment?

Since the treatment promotes a parasympathetic state, many will feel relaxed, loose, and sleepy.  We recommend scheduling this type of treatment for later in the day, after a competition, or several days before competition.  We do not recommend it right before a competition, workout, or a busy day of work. There are different styles of dry needling that do not promote parasympathetic drive and can be used immediately before a competition or workout.  

I’m already seeing a physical therapist for an injury.  Can we integrate the recovery protocol into my normal treatment plan?

Yes.  If you’re trying to promote generalized recovery to enhance injury healing, local treatment of the specific injury can be integrated into the full body protocol.  You can also do just one part of the recovery protocol as a part of a regular treatment or recovery session (i.e. arm for pitchers, leg for ACL surgery recovery, etc.).

Interested in learning if dry needling is right for you?  Contact Dr. Molly at, call the clinic at (952) 322-7383, or schedule a physical therapy appointment by clicking the button below.

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