Acupuncture is a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine and is one of the world’s oldest medical treatments still in use today. People have been using the ancient therapy to heal trauma, manage pain and maintain health for over 2,500 years.
Acupuncture involves placing fine needles into specific points on the body to elicit a healing response. The stimulation of these needles corrects the flow of energy, or Qi, along channels throughout the body called meridians. It has long been proven to be successful for people of all ages and physical conditions. It’s no surprise that athletes can gain a competitive edge over their opponents by integrating this technique into their training regimen.
Ancient Chinese warriors are said to be the first athletes to use the therapy to recover from the grueling physical conditions of combat. Today, professional athletes competing in a variety of sports see acupuncturists to receive treatment. Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk, LA Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jason Hammel all use acupuncture to ensure quick injury recovery and to improve performance. Five-time Olympic high jumper and practicing licensed acupuncturist Amy Acuff gives partial credit to acupuncture for increasing the longevity of her Olympic career. But you don’t need to be a professional to benefit from it! Here are five ways acupuncture can help all athletes:
1. Healing sports injuries from trauma or overuse: Acupuncture reduces inflammation and bruising, and optimizes blood flow to speed recovery. Injuries shown to respond best includes: muscle pulls, arthritis, sprains and strains, impingements and tendonitis.
2. Managing pain: Needle insertion produces natural painkillers in the body and blocks pain signals throughout the nervous system.
3. Enhancing performance: Acupuncture boosts the body’s natural energy supply, increases endurance and reduces workout recovery time. A study performed at the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine showed that the heart rates of athletes who received acupuncture after running three miles recovered quicker than those that did not receive treatment.
4. Promoting flexibility and range of motion: Increased blood flow to muscles and tendons helps to relax tissues.
5. Improving confidence: Success in competition depends on both a healthy body and mind. Acupuncture reduces stress and anxiety and increases focus.
The safety and effectiveness of acupuncture for pain management and orthopedic conditions has been recognized by the World Health Organization, National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Acupuncture treatment is individualized to each patient’s needs after an initial examination and review of the patient’s health history. While most patients feel a mild sensation with the insertion of the needles, most feel no pain and many find the treatment relaxing.
Affinity Health System offers acupuncture treatment in Northeast Wisconsin through the Mary Kimball Anhaltzer Center for Integrative Medicine in Oshkosh, and the Affinity Medical Group clinic in Greenville. For more information, contact Affinity Integrative Medicine at (920) 223-7366.