PITTSBURGH -- When tough guy James Harrison calls the pain "hooooorible," it better be good.
The 37-year-old Steelers linebacker has a go-to method of muscle recovery called dry needling, which Harrison describes as a "deeper form of acupuncture."
During the season, he goes through at least one therapy session a week, mostly on his lower back and legs.
Remember that back surgery Harrison had after the 2010 season to correct a herniated disc? Dry needling helped him play a full season that year, Harrison said, successfully postponing the surgery by alleviating muscle tension around the disc.
"It’s a more invasive form of needling," Harrison said. "It can be recovery based and help to heal any injuries that are nagging ... It's painful as hell."
Just how painful? Harrison asks teammate Vince Williams by his locker. Williams, who has tried the procedure, compares it to "small, consistent muscle cramping" in every needle location.
"But very powerful," Harrison said. "It makes you sore the next day, but the day after you feel fine. I’m not the only person that does it. Three to five people [in here] do it."
But no one does it more than Harrison, Williams adds.
Harrison hires someone to apply the treatment, then sometimes he posts Instagram pictures of the process.
Harrison said this stuff has helped prolong his career.
"The results are worth [the pain]," Harrison said.