Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2024) 23, 136 - 146   DOI:

Research article
Acute Effects of the Dry Needling Session on Gastrocnemius Muscle Biomechanical Properties, and Perfusion with Latent Trigger Points - A Single-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial in Mixed Martial Arts Athletes
Robert Trybulski1, , Arkadiusz Stanula2, Aleksandra Żebrowska3, Mieszko Podleśny4, Barbara Hall3
Author Information
1 Medical Department of the Wojciech Korfanty Upper Silesian Academy, Poland
2 Laboratory of Sport Performance Analysis, Institute of Sport Sciences, The Jerzy Kukuczka Academy of Physical Education in Katowice, Poland
3 Department of Physiology, School of Physiological-Medical Sciences, The Jerzy Kukuczka Academy of Physical Education in Katowice, Poland
4 “Salus” Health Center Słupsk, Poland

Robert Trybulski
✉ PhD Faculty of Medicine of the University of Upper Silesia Wojciech Korfanty, Katowice, Scouts September 37 Street 40-065 Katowice, Poland
Publish Date
Received: 24-09-2023
Accepted: 12-01-2024
Published (online): 01-03-2024

The study aimed to evaluate the immediate effects of a dry needling (DN) therapy session on biomechanical properties, muscle power, perfusion, and pressure pain threshold of the gastrocnemius muscle with latent trigger points. Twenty mixed martial arts athletes (MMA) were randomly divided into two groups: experimental (eDN, n = 10) and sham (qDN, n = 10) to undergo one session of DN either with a real or a qazi needle. The measurements were taken at rest, 1-5 minutes after the DN (Post1-5min) and 24h after the DN (Post24h). DN significantly increased the muscle perfusion (Post1-5min and Post24h, p < 0.001), reduced its tone (Post1-5min and Post24h, p < 0.001) and stiffness (Post1-5min, p < 0.05; Post24 h, p < 0.001), and improved its elasticity (Post1-5min and Post24h, p < 0.001). DN also caused a significant increase in pressure pain threshold (Post1-5min, p < 0.001; Post24h, p < 0.05) and in muscle power (Post24h, p < 0.01). The DN session increased the blood perfusion and improved the biomechanical properties of the gastrocnemius muscle, which led to improved muscle power. The DN also had an analgesic effect. These effects were maintained at 24 h, which suggests that DN could facilitate muscle recovery in a post-exercise period of MMA athletes.

Key words: Latent trigger point, mixed martial arts, myotonometry, blood perfusion

           Key Points
  • Latent trigger points in skeletal muscles reduce their functionality, increasing the risk of injury and impairing the sports performance of martial arts athletes.
  • A single dry needling session improves the microcirculation in the gastrocnemius muscle with latent trigger points acutely and for at least 24 hours.
  • A session of dry needling also improves the biomechanical properties of the muscle and its power.
  • Dry needling shows an analgesic effect.
  • Dry needling seems to be effective in facilitating muscle regeneration, improving athletic performance, and most importantly, it is safe, so mixed martial arts athletes can use it after training sessions and before competition.
  • MyotonPro is a reliable tool for measuring biomechanical properties of skeletal muscles.
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