Benefits of Sports Medicine Acupuncture
By: Holly Green AP,C.SMA
The benefits of Sports Medicine Acupuncture are undeniable. It is a form of acupuncture especially useful for injury recovery, prevention, and performance enhancement. It takes both a western orthopedic view as well as traditional Chinese medicine approach to treating musculoskeletal problems, thereby bringing the best of both worlds to the table so that athletes can compete at their best, more injury free, and at a higher level both mentally and physically.
Athletes in particular are susceptible to many forms of injuries both chronic and acute. The quicker these injuries can be addressed and not only treated but prevented as well, the better. Sports Medicine acupuncture’s additional ability to enhance performance will keep the athlete in tip top shape and able to compete on the level he or she desires on a more consistent basis.
In general, acupuncture can help by stimulating the nervous system, resulting in biochemical changes that both influence the body’s own self-regulating systems, and stimulate its own natural healing abilities. Here is a brief overview and some significant research results of how acupuncture and Sports Medicine acupuncture can help aid in the three important areas of injury recovery, prevention of injury, and performance enhancement.
Research has shown that acupuncture can reduce healing time by as much as 50% and can promote the resolution of injuries in several ways. First and foremost, it can provide pain relief by stimulating the body’s own endorphin (feel good hormones) system. In a randomized controlled trial of acupuncture for exercise-induced muscle soreness, 22 healthy adults were randomly assigned real acupuncture, sham acupuncture, or control group (no acupuncture). Through eccentric muscle contraction of the elbow until exhaustion, soreness was induced. They found after 72 hours, pain perception was significantly lower with acupuncture, vs sham or no acupuncture. (J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Oct:14(8):1011-6)
By increasing local microcirculation, acupuncture aids in the dispersal of swelling and bruising (Komori et al, 2009). An animal study designed to look into the effects of acupuncture on muscle tissue inflammation showed that manual acupuncture actually downregulated (turned off) pro-inflammatory cells (M1 macrophages) and at the same time, upregulated (activated) anti-inflammatory cells (M2 macrophages), resulting in reduced pain and swelling (Molecular Neurobiology Feb. 2015). Epoch Times reported, “Acupuncture literally flips a switch wherein initial inflammatory responses are reduced and the secondary healing responses are promoted” (May 27,2016).
Acupuncture can break down scar tissue by creating a controlled micro trauma and creating a cascade of healing activities that result in the remodeling of affected soft tissue structure. Acupuncture has shown suppression of the peripheral inflammatory response and other anti-inflammatory mechanisms.
Finally, acupuncture aids in promoting faster recovery after training sessions. An observational study of the effects of female swimmers found that acupuncture can improve exercise tolerance, increase hemoglobin and blood glucose concentrations, and promote quick recovery thus delaying the appearance of sports fatigue (Pan&Pan, 2007).
Acupuncture addresses the natural degeneration of athletes over 30. “Spondylosis, degenerative changes within the spine normally occur primarily over the age of thirty“ (Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, March 2004). With a sports medicine approach, acupuncture can keep muscles in good condition and balanced properly, thereby increasing stamina and increasing overall quality of performance.
Acupuncture has long been used for stress and anxiety reduction. By stimulating the natural feel good endorphin hormones in the body, cortisol levels have been known to drop. There is evidence that suggests that acupuncture may also work by activating your body’s natural opioid system, which may also help to reduce pain or induce sleep (World Health Organization, Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials, 2003) . A body stressed is more prone to injury and acupuncture’s ability to offload some of that stress makes for a sharper, more relaxed and “in the zone” athlete.
Sports medicine acupuncture has been shown to create higher endurance rates while keeping muscles in good condition, decreasing the number of injuries and recovery time, thereby leaving more overall injury free time and better performance in the athletes chosen path. In a study showing the effect of acupuncture on 20-km cycling performance, 20 male cyclists underwent three tests a week, riding a stationary bike for 20km as fast as possible. Before each test they received acupuncture, “sham” acupuncture, and no intervention once each in a random order. It was found that the cyclists receiving acupuncture before their ride were able to achieve greater levels of exertion, with faster cycling times and experienced less pain as well (Clin J, Sport Med. 2008 Jan:18 (1):76-80).
With Sports Acupuncture’s approach you can enjoy quicker injury recovery, prevention of injury and other illnesses, better performance, and a body more equipped to handle day to day stress. All while recovering quicker while training or competing. Now that’s a winning combination!
Athletes that use acupuncture
Professional triathletes like Ironman World Champions Craig Alexander and Chrissy Wellington, as well as NBA stars Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, and NFL quarterback Brett Favre all have used sports acupuncture for injury prevention, treatment and pain relief. Just to name a few…
• Want to know what a typical Sports Medicine Acupuncture session is like? (click here)