Friday Favorites #30: Dry Needling, Chocolate Finds, and More
Happy Friday! I hope you have had an amazing week. It's August. Woah. Slow down, summer... This week has been pretty good with the anticipation of some fun trips I have planned this month, finally feeling an improvement in my hip thanks to dry needling (see below), and an influx of kittens at work. Kitten season seems to be in full fledge and these cuties are popping up everywhere needing a home. Would you like one?! Once again I'm sharing some of my favorite things from the week. As always, I'd love to hear what things are making you smile in the comments (a new kitten could be one of them ;-)). Thanks for stopping by. <3
Costco Dark Chocolate Find
Life tip: If you want to greatly increase the amount you're spending on food and other random things you didn't know you needed but suddenly need (IN BULK), pay $60 for a Costco membership. If you want to save money, stay far, far away. I'm like a moth to a flame with Costco. Darn those samples. And healthy products. Somehow we have gone every single week since we purchased our membership. I'm not proud of this.
I'm a sucker for free samples. I love tapas and flights and anything that involves getting to try a taste of lots of things. Last weekend I was pretty determined to not enter that dangerous-warehouse-of-magical-products that is Costco. However, Matt wanted more of their (awesomely clean ingredient) breakfast chicken sausages so suddenly there we were. Just as we were about to check out samples of this delightful little chocolate treat were handed to us. What perfectly strategic and unfortunate (for our wallet) timing.
A bag of these "dark chocolate nuggets with coconuts and super seeds" (<-- prob could have come up with a catchier title) went home with us. This treat has a pretty big serving size for not a ton of calories or added sugar (for chocolate). If you're looking for a relatively healthy option for chocolate cravings this is a delicious option. On a similar note, this is a very large bag of chocolate crack. Bring it home at your own risk.
Our cart ended up having plenty of other random items at checkout. Guess what wasn't in our cart because they were out. The breakfast chicken sausage. Well played, Costco.
If you've been reading for a while, you might remember from the glute activation post that I took a break from running to focus on healing a nagging injury at the point of my hip. I've continued to work on glute activation and strength which is going great (I even have some new tips I may share soon), but I'm STILL not back to running. That is driving me crazy. Especially since that's the time I'm most mindful and my favorite way to deal with stress. Thankfully, I finally discovered a physical therapy office nearby that I LOVE: K2 Sports Therapy.
They quickly identified that my piriformis muscle is crazy tight. At the last visit they likened it to a banjo string, so that's fun. Literally, it's a pain in my butt. I've been doing stretches and foam rolling (if you need to target your piriformis muscle a tennis ball hurts so good). That was helping a little, but the muscle still wasn't letting go. The last two visits I started to have dry needling, and I think it's exactly what the muscle needs.
If you're not familiar with dry needling it involves inserting acupuncture needles into trigger points (basically knots) in the muscle to help it relax and to relieve pain.
It's not a relaxing procedure, but it's 100% worth it. Once the needle is inserted into a trigger point the muscle twitches/contracts. While it feels a little weird, I like the reassurance that the muscle is responding exactly in the area I can feel discomfort. I'm so glad to have found a PT that does dry needling nearby, because I think this is exactly what I need to finally fix this muscle and to get back into running. After only my second treatment I finally had the first completely pain-free workout in months. Insert all the celebratory emojis here.
I firmly believe that acupuncture/dry needling is underutilized. I became certified in acupuncture for my veterinary patients after experiencing amazing results with acupuncture to treat a previous running injury. There are so many pain conditions that could get greater relief (or faster resolution) from acupuncture instead of medications. In many cases these treatments are getting to the root of the problem instead of masking or temporarily relieving the pain. I'm by no-means anti-pain medications. Thank goodness we have them! But in a time when we're dealing with an opioid epidemic, I think it's really critical to recognize how powerful these alternative therapies can be (and with very few side effects).
What To Expect With Dry Needling
I didn't mean for that to be a soap box moment, so I'm going to hop off now. If you're nervous about the concept of dry needling, don't be! If the muscle is really tight, you can expect to have some discomfort when the needle reaches the trigger point. The muscle may twitch, but within a few seconds the majority of the discomfort will be gone. In my case, I feel a dull ache during the treatment but only for areas that are really tight and painful to begin with. You may get hooked up to an E-stim which sends a little electrical pulse down the needles and causes the muscles to contract slightly. The intensity can be adjusted based on your comfort level (it shouldn't hurt). The needles stay in for several minutes. Removing the needles isn't painful. Afterwards, the muscle may feel a little stiff or sore immediately after and even the next day. After my last treatment it felt like I had had a super good workout just in my piriformis muscle the following day.
I'm VERY hopeful I'll be getting back into running soon. I would love to start running while it's still uncomfortably hot and humid. I'm not (entirely) insane. I'd just love to take advantage of that amazing shift when fall suddenly arrives, the temps and humidity drop, and running effort is suddenly so much easier. But one thing at a time. In the meantime I'll be hanging out, sitting on a tennis ball. Jameson does not understand this game.
Little Updates that Make Me Smile
When I put together our bedroom I wanted to create a space that made us feel relaxed and happy. Pretty simple. One of our walls is filled with photos of vacations and memories that make us smile when we see them. I finally updated the gallery with some photos from our trip to the Maldives. I'm loving having these as a constant reminder of the incredible trip we were so fortunate to have. It's also nice to see photos of times when I felt content and at ease when I'm trying to wind down at night.
If you're thinking of adding something like this I used Ikea's RIBBA frames. The frames are super cost effective at only $7.99. They come in a variety of sizes, but I used the 12x16" frames. They're fairly light weight (so easy to hang), and I like that they have a clean understated look that highlights the photos.
Speaking of favorite places that make me happy and relaxed: I'm heading to Maine this weekend to visit family. Maine in the summer is one of my happy places. I'm looking forward to seeing my sister's new home, getting to see my (now grown up!) puppy nephew, enjoying some lobster, and soaking up time with family.
Speaking of my puppy nephew, I'm going to leave you with this clip of Arlo because it makes me smile every time.
Where are your happy places? When is a moment that you felt completely content and relaxed?
Have you tried dry needling?
What are your thoughts on having a gigantic bag of delicious chocolate at home?