Has your body fallen prey to sports injuries that keep you from competing at your peak or even training properly? Do you wish you had a natural, drug-free means of improving your overall fitness and wellness so you can enjoy your favorite sport more fully? Then perhaps it's time you looked into an ancient technique embraced by cutting-edge holistic healers worldwide -- acupuncture.
Anatomy of a Sports Injury
Sports injuries can occur in practically any kind of athletic endeavor. Much research notes, for example, that gymnasts are just as injury-prone as players of contact sports. Some of the common sports injuries listed include muscle pulls, shoulder impingements, lower back strain, sprained ankles, Achilles tendonitis, and "occupational hazard" overuse injuries such as runner's knee and tennis elbow. Many of these injuries are characterized by soft tissue inflammation, pain and stiffness.
How Does Acupuncture Help?
Acupuncture relieves pain and speeds healing in sports injuries. A recent report explains that the insertion of fine needles into the skin at strategic locations can help block or reroute certain nerve signals while boosting the production of adenosine, a natural painkilling substance made by the body. Acupuncture also appears to stimulate both the circulation (which helps the injury site release inflammatory substances) and immune system strength (which helps ward off colds and other impediments to athletic performance), according to research.
What to Expect
Acupuncture needles are so thin that they almost never cause discomfort, especially when inserted by a skilled, experienced practitioner. You will typically answer a series of questions about your medical history and any current symptoms or conditions in an initial consultation. This allows the practitioner to properly address your sports injury.
Acupuncture can provide some symptom relief even after the first session, but of course it's not a magic wand. Alternative medicine practitioners note that multiple sessions over several weeks are generally recommended to get the full benefit of this healing technique. You may also find that acupuncture makes a powerful complement to other natural treatments such as massage therapy, physiotherapy and ice/heat. The synergy between these various Eastern and Western protocols maximizes your body's ability to heal itself so you can get back to training and playing your favorite sport.
University of Maryland
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine