Have you ever been slowed down or sidelined from your favorite activities due to an injury?
Have you ever wondered if there was anything you could do to recover better or more quickly?
Are you looking for alternatives to pain medication?
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine may hold the answers to your questions.
Acupuncture continues to grow in use and acceptance in the world of professional sports. In recent years, many more professional athletes have been using acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to enhance their athletic performance. Perhaps you have heard accounts of the many football, basketball, hockey, soccer, skating or snowboarding professionals incorporating acupuncture to facilitate their healing. Ankle, shoulder, knee, back and joint injuries are most common. Acupuncture can decrease swelling, bruising, stiffness and spasms of the muscles. Joint injuries are especially benefited by returning range of motion more quickly.
Athletes and exercise enthusiasts alike are consistently pushing their bodies – sometimes to extremes. Muscle soreness, strain and fatigue can result as lactic acid builds. These muscle strains and pains are often the result of repetitive motion or over-training. In order to support the initial strain, other muscles are recruited to protect the weakened one. Left unchecked, a chain reaction of muscles coming to each others aid ensues.
According the Traditional Chinese Medicine, constrained or swollen muscles create imbalances of Qi (vital energy) and/or blood. Bones can actually be pulled out of place by tightened muscles, increasing possibility of further injury. Therefore, pain should be seen as the body’s way of sounding an alarm. Simply masking the pain with anti-inflammatory or narcotic drugs may contribute to further complications and injuries because the receptors in the brain responsible for sounding the alarm are blocked.
Acupuncture is quite effective in helping the body produce its own hormones that are anti-inflammatory and anti-stress. The body’s own natural painkillers are also awakened by the proper use of acupuncture.
Many of us are familiar with the “R.I.C.E.” method – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation – for treating traumatic injuries. Traditional Chinese medicine, including acupuncture, speeds this healing process by invigorating the flow of blood and Qi to the affected area. When herbs are added to help invigorate blood and move Qi, healing occurs even more rapidly and completely.
The nature of the pain is a strong indication of the severity of the imbalance. Dull, achy pain that may move from one location to another indicates Qi stagnation. Sharp, fixed pain whose location is specific and may be intense is most often due to blood stagnation. If Qi stagnation is not addressed, it will most likely result in stagnation of blood.
Here is the bonus. Mental stress – a common side effect of physical pain – is also addressed and decreased. Body pains may be the main complaint when seeking medical treatment, but the de-stressing effect of acupuncture can be even more pronounced. This is due to the focus on total internal balance, as opposed to focusing on the injury as if it were removed from the rest of the body. Acupuncture works to balance our system of internal meridians or pathways. These meridians are the highways through which Qi flows. Proper flow of Qi, in turn moves the blood through our meridians and tissues. Our parasympathetic and sympathetic responses also return toward balance, calming the mind and brain. If you have felt calmer and mentally relaxed after a massage treatment, you have experienced this connection.
Whether you are a professional athlete, a “weekend warrior”, or simply would like to enhance your exercise routine, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can be powerful additions to your program. Improve circulation, reduce pain and speed recovery – all while helping improve your overall health.