The theory of Chinese medicine is based on homeostasis. An athlete’s body functions at an optimal level when most balanced. Acupuncture works by gently inserting and stimulating thin, disposable, sterile needles at strategic points near the surface of the body. There are over 2,000 sports acupuncture points connected with 14 major meridians. These meridians provide a highway-like system for Qi to flow through.
Qi is best described as energy, or the ability for transformation. It regulates mental, emotional, and physical balance in the body. We look at injury and disease as a blockage of this Qi. Similar to the analogy of a garden hose and a plant, when there is a kink in the hose, nutrients cannot flow freely to the plant and the plant suffers. Sports acupuncture helps open the pathways to increase Qi flow to the affected area.
Studies conducted by the US National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization have consistently shown that acupuncture is a safe and effective tool to use in dealing with pain and treating injury all over the body, as well as supporting optimal wellness. Many benefits of acupuncture appear to be related to the release of endorphins, decreased sympathetic activity, and an increased tolerance to fatigue.
There are several studies that have shown when needles are inserted they stimulate points that boost our natural painkillers. A study in the Journal of NeuroImage found that acupuncture affected the brain’s long-term ability to regulate pain. A study from UCLA Medical Center found that acupuncture increases the amount of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide causes the blood vessels to relax and widen, thereby opening up the arteries. This allows better blood flow to the heart and other organs.
In addition to accelerating the healing process, acupuncture helps your body bounce back from intensive exercise. For instance, a 2008 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine discovered that participants who received acupuncture for muscle soreness 24 and 48 hours after they exercised to exhaustion reported significantly less pain than those who did not receive the treatment.
Studies have also shown that acupuncture enhances immune-cell function in the body. Specifically, it helps the brain increase the body’s level of T-cells, the cells that destroy bacteria and harmful viruses in the body, even days after a session.By safeguarding against sickness, athletes will miss fewer workouts and perform better.
Acupuncture provides powerfully effective, personalized, non-pharmaceutical and non-surgical care for athletes. Regular treatments manage the body’s built in arsenal to protect itself. Should an injury arise, acupuncture regulates nerve conduction and microcirculation in the area of inflammation to speed the healing process. It works to decrease pain by stimulating endorphins, providing rapid and often long-lasting relief.
Post-competition, acupuncture minimizes muscle fatigue and pain, enhances energy and facilitates rapid recovery. This is especially important for athletes with multiple competitions in a relatively short time. Sports acupuncture treatments fine-tune athletes strength, coordination, speed, efficiency, and power while maximizing athletic abilities by corralling energy where it is needed most.
Becky's experience working with Division I student-athletes has shown just how easily it can be integrated into training rooms across the country and how powerfully it can help! Acupuncture is a highly effective, time-tested treatment for sports injuries because it resolves pain, accelerates healing, and increases range of motion. Acupuncture achieves this by decreasing inflammation, swelling, and bruising; relaxing muscles and relieving spasms; lowering the body’s pain response, and improving circulation. Acupuncture can naturally boosts athletes’ energy levels, aid in post-workout recovery, and improve overall performance levels. If you would like to learn more or schedule an appointment to work on any of your health concerns, please contact Vail Valley Wellness.