#47 — Dry Needling for Fast Healing — Christine Bell, PT

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Christine Bell

Christine Bell has more than 20 years of experience and expertise in treating orthopedic and sports injuries. Having worked in Australia, the UK and the USA she has learned many treatment methods and techniques and treated a vast array of sports and orthopedic conditions. She is an expert in many techniques for healing injured athletes, including Dry Needling, which is a super fast method of healing the soft tissues of an athletes body.
Contact Christine here:

Mobility & Strength Class Video: Passcode: 71L&VPo+ 

Note: you need a long foam roller, a mat, hand weights and a small looped band for this workout. 

Notes from Discussion with Christie Bell, P.T.

Christine is in the business of fixing injured athletes

Q: Why are you so good?

The first thing I look at is the cause of the injury.  I don’t just look at the spot that is painful.  I look for the source of the problem.  Further up or down the chain, that is directly influencing the injury.  Look at the overall body.

The key is to have enough time.  I book 1 hour sessions to have enough time to get to the bottom of what is happening.  What is it they are doing that is causing that pain.

Lately there are a lot of problems related to working at home…which is not setup for sitting in a good posture for a long time.

Q:  What is your backstory?

Grew up in Australia.  Primary sport was basketball.  Always spraining ankles.  The physios helped me a lot, and I eventually wanted to do that.  I got my PT education in Australia and later Boston, MA USA.

Q:  What is Dry Needling, and how does it help?

Dry Needling is a fairly new modality.  It is based on trigger points.  A PT is trained to deal with trigger points, but it is hard to get at the trigger that can be deep in the muscle.  So, a needle can get down into the muscle without having to push through the overlaying tissue.  Plus Needling takes a second vs. 30-60 minutes, maybe multiple times rubbing on the trigger point.  It is fast.

Trigger Point — like a lentil (bean) under the muscle or a tight, ropey band in the muscle that is switched on all the time.  Can be from over use 

Referral pain — a spinal / nerve being pinched by a tight muscle in the back that is causing a nerve pinch.  Sciatic nerve pain is a sharp pain.  A referred trigger point is usually a dull muscle pain.

Q:  What is “Dry” needle?  

Same as acupuncture needle.  The needle is very thin since there is not hollow channel inside for delivering liquid like you would use for an injection.  Because it is so thin, you usually cannot feel it.

Q:  Acupuncture vs. Dry Needling?

Acupuncture is based on meridians where as dry needling is doing directly to the muscle to relieve trigger points.  Acupuncture is for systemic issues more than muscle issues.

Q:  What is Dry Needling use for?

Muscle issues and tendon issues.   Neck, back, thumb, tennis / golfer elbow.  Spasm around that area.  Release the spasm and encourage blood flow.  The knots in the muscle contain byproducts of muscle contraction that had been held due to poor blood flow.  It gets released and lets the muscle relax which lets the blood flow properly.

Plus the tight muscle can pull the joint improperly which creates poor movement and eventually injury.

It reduces pain and helps the body to heal.  If you can get the pain to be relieved, the brain can believe in another state of being.  Plus the use of needles is a strong psychological signal that something massive has been done…it provides relief to the mind…provides a whole body relaxation.  A big release of tension.

For speed to recovery, dry needling is the fastest possible path.

Q: Have you noticed anything about older, endurance athletes…anything common?

As we get older, we get tighter.  collagen shrinks.  Wear and tear.  All the miles in the past, maybe done without stretching and proper healing work….there is a consequence.  Tissue isn’t as elastic anymore.  Plus older athletes need more time to recover.

When older, just taking time off of training won’t solve the injuries.  You have to get some treatments to resolve the problems directly since we cannot just wait for the body to heal itself.

Q:  Mistakes made by older athletes related to failing to recover or dealing with injuries properly?

Underestimated the value of mobility.  Need good form to avoid problems.

Mobility:  flexibility.  Ability to move well through a full range of motion.  Fire the correct muscles.  Strength training is great, but you must have the mobility in the joint before you can make it stronger without creating compensations and a setup for injuries.

The body is naturally great at compensating for pain or injuries.  If it goes on for too long, the compensations stack on top of each other…then nothing is moving properly and posture is poor.

Do stretching and range of motion work everyday before exercising.  Don’t ever skip the 5-10 minutes of movement.  After the workout, do more detailed stretching that elongates the muscles which are warm after a workout.

Mobility & Strength Class Video by Aussie PT Passcode: 71L&VPo+ 

Note: you need a long foam roller, a mat, hand weights and a small looped band for this workout. 



Pain killers are a bad idea related to not dealing with the pain.  Making the problem worse and/or developing compensations that will be hard to lose in the future.  But, after surgery, pain killers allows for movement which will help with healing.   So, painkillers do have positive uses.

It’s better to stop for a short time to get rid of the source of the pain.

Q:  How do you tell the difference between a pain that will go away on its own vs. a pain that needs professional treatment?

Ignoring pain is a commom mistake.

If the pain is less than a 5 out of ten…if the pain is not too bad and gets lower as you warm up, then that’s promising.  If it doesn’t feel worse after exercise, then it might be something that will resolve on its own.  If might be worth getting it checked out anyway.

If it is a sharp pain….if the pain is changing the way you move…it gets worse during or after the activity.  Just stop.  Get help.

Q:  Any advice on diet?

Make sure to hydrate and use electrolytes.  Get enough magnesium if you are cramping, or have tight muscles.  Magnesium can change the structure of the muscles.

If you have a tight muscles all over your body…..  Look to cut out processed sugar, gluten, dairy to see if that helps.  See a nutritionist for support.

Q: Anything else to stay out of your office?

Don’t cut out mobility or stretching before workout.  If you are short of time, shorten the workout not the stretching / mobility

Put quality food in your body.

Contact Christine with any questions:

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Aussie PT

Sports Physical Therapy & Endurance Training

Aussie PT specializes in providing physical therapy and strength training for endurance athletes. Using skilled specific hands on techniques, including mobilization and manipulation, we can diagnose and treat soft tissue and joints thus improving your range of motion, reducing inflammation and encouraging tissue repair. This will in turn decrease your pain and improve function. These specialty techniques are used commonly to treat sports related injuries like lower back pain, neck pain, shoulder impingement, plantar fasciitis, anterior knee pain and hip pain.

Based in Boulder, Colorado, Christine Bell is a Sports Physical Therapist and a Multisport Coach with a focus on strength training to help prevent injuries. Christine works with triathletes, cyclists, runners and swimmers that want to take their performance to the next level.

  • Bachelor of Human Movement Studies, University of Queensland (1984)
  • Bachelor of Applied Science in Physiotherapy, University of South Australia (1991)
  • Master of Science in Physical Therapy; MGH Institute of Health Professions (2002)


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The ever curious athlete who demands answers.
About the Author
Curious athlete who demands answers. Husband to Susan ( Father of 3 daughters. Athletic pursuits over time, in reverse order: cycling, skiing, mountaineering, rock climbing, triathlon, golf, tennis, football.

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