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Randomized controlled trial.
The aim of this study was to determine the effects of dry needling on hamstring extensibility and functional performance tests among asymptomatic individuals with hamstring muscle tightness.
Dry needling has been shown to increase range of motion in the upper quarter and may have similar effects in the lower quarter.
27 subjects with hamstring extensibility deficits were randomly assigned to side of treatment (dominant or nondominant) and group (blunt needling or dry needling). The first session included measurement of hamstring extensibility and performance on 4 unilateral hop tests, instruction in home hamstring stretching exercises and needling distal to the ischial tuberosity and midbellies of the medial and lateral hamstrings. A second session, 3–5 days following the first session, included outcome measures and a second needling intervention, and a third session, 4–6 weeks following the first session, included outcome measures only. A 2 × 3 × 2 ANOVA was used to statistically analyze the data.
Hamstring extensibility showed a significant side × time interaction (P < .05). The single hop for distance, timed 6-meter hop, and the crossover hop test had a significant main effect of time (P < .05). The triple hop for distance showed a significant side × time × group interaction (P < .05).
It does not appear dry needling results in increased extensibility beyond that of stretching alone in asymptomatic individuals. Our study findings suggest that dry needling may improve certain dimensions of functional performance, although no clear conclusion can be made. Level of Evidence: Intervention, level 2b.
The authors are with the Division of Physical Therapy, Dept of Rehabilitation Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA.