Research Update: Acupuncture and Sports Injuries

In a study conducted by researchers from the Physical Education Institute at Zhengzhou University, Traditional Chinese Medicine was investigated to see how it affected athletes suffering from motor impairment due to injury. Participants in the study suffered from limited range of motion in a number of joints, including the neck, upper and lower limbs. The researchers administered acupuncture and herbs, alone or in combination, to their different groups. The participants reported increased range of motion and decreased soreness after receiving treatment. Those who received herbs and acupuncture reported greater healing and relief, with a total effectiveness rate of 84.4 percent overall. This study shows the combination of acupuncture and herbs is highly effective for the treatment of physical mobility impairment caused by participation in sports.

Injuries occur frequently from participating in organized sports, competitions or even backyard games. These injuries can range from minor to severe and they can occur for a multitude of reasons. These injuries are typically categorized as acute or chronic. An acute sports injury is usually one that involves a single blow or application of force, like being tackled.  Chronic sports injuries occur when an area is overused or abused for long periods of time. This can happen with sports like tennis, weight lifting, running, etc. Sprains and strains around joints tend to be the most common types of sports related injuries.

Most people who suffer from sports related injuries implement the use of R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation) almost immediately after the injury occurs. While all of these may be necessary in the beginning, using ice long-term is actually detrimental to the tissue because it impedes blood flow. This is where acupuncture can be very beneficial for treating sports injuries.

Many athletes, professional and amateur, are now utilizing acupuncture and some of the other modalities associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to help them heal more quickly. Acupuncture has a very successful history of treating sports related injuries and many professional teams now have licensed acupuncturists on staff. Using acupuncture to treat injuries has been around for centuries. It began with martial arts and it is still one of the primary means of healing used. 

Acupuncture can help reduce swelling, decrease pain, decrease inflammation and increase blood flow to the injured area. Recent studies, like the one above, show that acupuncture is very effective at treating sprains, strains, aches, pains, swollen muscles and even shin splints. As an added bonus, regular acupuncture treatments can improve performance and give athletes a competitive edge.