With the Olympics happening recently, we wanted to dedicate this newsletter to athletes and discuss the many ways that Chinese medicine is used to help prevent and heal injuries and enhance athletic performance.
All athletes and coaches are involved in an ongoing search for ways to improve performance and gain a competitive edge over their rivals. Many are finding that acupuncture can often provide that edge. Acupuncture can strengthen body function and restore internal harmony and balance. Professional sports teams and top athletes often have an acupuncturist on staff to treat injuries and keep them performing at their peak. Here are a few examples:
- China's most popular sportsman, the 7 foot 6-inch basketball center, Yao Ming, used acupuncture and Chinese medicine to help him recover after undergoing surgery on his ankle.
- Acupuncture isn’t solely practiced by the Chinese Olympic Team. American athlete, Dee Dee Trotter, used daily visits from her local acupuncturist to help her third place in the 400-meter run at the London Olympic Games.
- Canadian slopestyle athlete, Mark McMorris, used acupuncture to help him recover from a broken rib in time to win a bronze medal at Sochi.
- Australian Swimmer Daniel Kowalski, who has won Olympic Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals, has talked in a video about how acupuncture helped him in the 2000 games, both by keeping away illness and helping him recover from injury.
Studies on Acupuncture to Enhance Athletic Performance
Studies have shown that acupuncture has measurable effects on the flow of blood to certain areas of the body, which could in turn boost athletic performance. One such study conducted at the Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine involved athletes running 5,000 meters, and afterward sitting for acupuncture treatments before they had a chance to catch their breath. Athletes who received treatments recovered more quickly than those in the control group.
Another study published in the American Journal of Acupuncture measured the effects of acupuncture on anaerobic threshold and work capacity during exercise in healthy young males. Researchers found that individuals in the acupuncture treatment group had higher maximal exercise capacity and were able to perform higher workloads at the onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA) than individuals in the placebo group. The individuals that received acupuncture also had lower heart rates.
Acupuncture for Injury Rehabilitation
Acupuncture is well known for its effectiveness in reducing most types of pain, including pain from sports-related injuries. Sports injuries are predominantly due to trauma or overuse. Trauma to these soft tissues, including ligaments, tendons, and muscles is generally the result of falls, blows, sprains/strains, collisions, compressions crushing, and disruptions of the healing processes due to inflammation.
Due to its broad range of applications, acupuncture can be used during any of the phases of the injury healing process. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine may be used to help decrease swelling, spasms, and inflammation in addition to assisting in pain management, increasing range of motion, and promoting healing.
The focus is not only to treat the injury but also to treat any underlying conditions that may predispose an individual to injuries. This is especially important when treating chronic or recurrent injuries that interfere with life activities or athletic performance.
Some sports injuries commonly treated by acupuncture and Chinese medicine include:
- pulled muscles
- neck pain
- shoulder impingement
- tennis elbow
- lower back strain
- pulled groin
- hamstring strain
- runner's knee
- shin splints
- ankle sprain
- arch pain.
If you have suffered an injury or would like to speed your post-surgical recovery, acupuncture can help. Deb Earley has specific training in sports medicine and pain management. Make an appointment today for more information.
Injury Prevention and Healing
Don’t let your pledge to get into shape be derailed by a sports injury!
Fitness clubs across the country are full of enthusiastic individuals giving it their all to get fit or drop a few pounds. Unfortunately, some of these new athletes try to do too much too quickly and can pay a painful price.
Recent studies show that acupuncture effectively treats sports injuries such as strains; sprains; neck, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, ankle pain, swollen muscles, and shin splints.
Treatment for a sports injury with acupuncture and Chinese medicine has two objectives:
1. Reduce pain and inflammation of the injured area.
There is evidence that acupuncture can aid healing and resolution of injuries, including reducing pain, increasing local microcirculation, and attracting white blood cells to the area, both of which speed the healing rate, and aid dispersal of swelling and bruising.
2. Prevent further injuries and enhance athletic performance.
The best way to approach a fitness program without causing injury is not to dive in, but to take it slow and get the joints and muscles you haven’t used in a while ready to be used again.