Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2021 Apr 1;16(2):418-430. doi: 10.26603/001c.21475.
BACKGROUND: There is convincing evidence that dancers suffer injuries to the triceps surae musculature. Research on the immediate effects of dry needling (DN) is limited, and it is important to understand the acute effects of this treatment prior to performance.
PURPOSE: The purpose of this pilot study was to assess the immediate effects of DN on myofascial trigger points in terms of skin surface temperature, pain, active and passive range of motion, and torque production in the triceps surae of ballet dancers.
STUDY DESIGN: Randomized, double-blinded pilot study.
METHODS: Professional ballet dancers that fit inclusion and exclusion criteria (n=11) were randomly assigned to an experimental or control group. The dancers had three pre-determined standard point (SP) measurement spots that were used as a baseline for surface temperature comparisons. The dancers were also palpated for trigger point (TP) spots. Both SP and TP spots were marked for future measurements. The experimental group received DN, while the control group received sham DN (SHAM) to their bilateral calves at the TP spots. Immediately prior to and following treatment, both DN and SHAM groups were tested for skin surface temperature, pain, range of motion, and plantar flexion torque by blinded assessors. Paired t-tests and independent t-tests were performed to examine for differences between groups.
RESULTS: The surface temperature for the TP was higher than the SP measurements prior to intervention (Right calf p= .014; Left calf p= .031). There were no significant changes in VAS scale reported pain and ROM. The plantar flexion torque measurements showed an increase in the DN group of the left calf at the angular velocity of 60 degrees/sec.
CONCLUSION: This was a unique pilot study examining the acute effects of DN on professional ballet dancers. The results were limited due to low sample size. However, the methodology for this study and surface temperature results invites future research.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level 1b.