Acupuncture and sports play very well together. Acupuncture has been used time and again to help athletes relieve pain, but the accessory modalities associated with it can do so much more. Using acupuncture treatments can actually enhance an athlete’s performance and recovery from any sports-related injury. Let’s take a look.
When an athlete is in training, he or she is constantly pushing themselves to be better: a better time, a longer jump, a further distance, etc. An athlete’s body is put through constant stress. Muscles are pushed to their maximum and sometimes tiny microscopic tears form. If the athlete were able to rest properly, these micro-tears would heal. But, when an athlete is in training, the micro-tears don’t have time to heal properly. So the body becomes fatigued, sometimes painful and the probability of serious injury increases. Acupuncture helps the body to heal, restores healing levels of energy or Qi (pronounced “chee”) and strengthens the body inside and out, thus accelerating the athlete’s recovery time.
One of the accessory modalities in the toolbox of most acupuncturists is something called gua sha. Gua sha involves gently scraping the skin with a smooth instrument like a ceramic spoon. The areas scraped are directly over the muscles. Gua sha stimulates blood flow to the muscles allowing them to relax. Gua sha is a great recovery tool for athletes and it was even recently featured in the 2016 NBA Finals. Gua sha is best performed by a trained professional who knows the body well and can determine the best pressure level for your condition.
“Athletes who receive acupuncture treatments while in training generally recover quicker. They also tend to have more energy and stamina. Acupuncture can be used as a training tool for athletes with great success.” Says our okc acupuncturist, Toni Twitty.
Pre-workout & Tai Chi
As any athlete knows, stretching prior to a game, match or run is imperative. One of the best ways to stretch is tai chi. Tai chi is an ancient martial art that focuses more on being defensive instead of aggressive. It also utilizes almost every muscle in the body through slow, fluid, animal-like movements. The other nice thing about tai chi is that it helps you focus on your breathing, which helps greatly when training. By practicing tai chi prior to a workout or event, the athlete is getting the best of both worlds, a full body stretch session as well as breathing techniques. Overall, this makes for a more balanced and relaxed athlete. There are many forms of tai chi and tons of videos available, so try and find one that works best for you and your particular sport.
Acupuncture and Sports
As you can see, traditional Chinese medicine has much to offer for athletes both from the training standpoint as well as helping with recovery from an injury. Always seek out a properly trained, fully licensed acupuncturist so you can get the maximum benefits. When you add acupuncture to your training regimen, you should notice quite a difference in your performance.
Contact our okc acupuncturist, Toni Twitty, for any questions you may have or to schedule your first acupuncture appointment. Now go get em!
Adapted From Article Written By: Kim M. Filkins, L.Ac.