We treat a lot of athletes here at Stepping Stone – from new moms who jog twice a week to get back in shape to college athletes, high school dancers to adult triathletes. (And maybe someday some professional athletes! Marcie dreams daily of treating Rajon Rondo.) We are both marathoners. So we understand the trials and unique challenges to health that athletes are faced with.
So how can acupuncture help athletes?
1. Treatment of Injuries.
This is probably the most common reason that athletes seek out acupuncture services. Acupuncture can be an effective front-line or adjunctive treatment for:
2. Prevention of Injuries.
As important as being able to treat injuries is, wouldn’t it be better if you could stop them before they occur? This is really where acupuncture’s strength is. Athletes tend to know what their weakness is – either from old injuries or from a known location where they carry tension or where they “feel it” after a hard work-out. During training periods, acupuncture can work proactively to strengthen these sites, decrease muscular tension and guarding, and prevent inflammation and swelling. Acupuncture also prevents injuries by working on the whole body, not just the problem sites. By bringing the body’s natural rhythms into balance, it decreases the possibility of injury by making sure that no one system, limb, or joint is weaker than others.
3. Performance Enhancement.
Acupuncture is a holistic treatment. This means that to most effectively treat any condition, we look at how everything in the body interacts – the various muscle groups, the fascia, sleep cycles, and digestive, emotional, cardiovascular, respiratory, and reproductive health. Using acupuncture’s diagnostic methods such as looking at the tongue, feeling the pulse, palpating muscle areas and acupuncture points, we can rebalance issues in the body prior to symptoms being present. This means that we can help your body starve off a cold, have a more efficient metabolism, get more rejuvenating and restful sleep, better deal with stress, and have more balanced hormones. All of these things help you to be at your best when it comes to athletic performance. (Or everyday life!)
There are not any studies that I know of looking specifically at lung capacity and cardiovascular function in athletes with acupuncture. However, preliminary research has shown acupuncture may increase lung volume in asthma patients, and acupuncture has a known positive effect on the cardiovascular system and blood flow. So it may be that in another few years, we can proudly claim another performance-enhancing benefit of sports acupuncture to be increased cardiovascular and respiratory capacity.
If you are interested in pursuing acupuncture for preventing sports injuries and/or increasing performance, call us to discuss an ideal treatment regimen for you. We recommend contacting us at the start of your training season or regimen so that we can best support you and your body!