Acupuncture For Sports Injuries

Sometimes going to an allopathic physician when you’re an injured runner is more depressing than the actual injury.  Many simply say “don’t run” and hand you a bill.  Because of this, many runners are turning to alternative therapies in conjunction with western medicine. One of these alternative-healing modalities is acupuncture.

A centuries-old ancient Chinese therapy, acupuncture is only recently receiving acceptance from conventional western medicine. It is based on the theory that life force energy, called qi ( or “chi”) flows through your body along pathways known as “meridians”. Similar to the resulting bottleneck when an accident occurs on a busy freeway, when the flow of chi is blocked or out of balance along on a meridian it can result in illness or injury. To facilitate the flow of chi, an acupuncturist inserts tiny needles into your skin along the appropriate meridians or energy pathways.

Eastern and Western medicine differ in explaining how acupuncture works. Western medical studies examining acupuncture theorize that acupuncture reduces pain by facilitating your body’s release of natural painkilling biochemicals known as endorphins and opiods as well as certain neurotransmitters that reduce the sensation of pain. It’s thought that acupuncture may also promote wellness by stimulating the hypothalamus and pituitary glands and boosting the immune system. 

Traditional Chinese acupuncture is performed with very thin needles which are inserted into the skin at specific meridian points, depending on a patient’s symptoms. Other acupuncture techniques may incorporate heat, pressure and/or mild electrical current to stimulate the flow of qi. The needles used are individually packaged and disposed of after one usage. Treatments are approximately one hour. For those with an acute condition one treatment is often sufficient. Those with chronic pain or illnesses or under significant physical stress (such as training for a marathon) may require a series. 

“If someone is training for a marathon, I usually recommend they increase their treatments to twice a week two weeks before the race and then once right after the event,” says acupuncturist Cary Wilson, L.Ac. 

The first question most people ask is “does acupuncture hurt? According to Wilson, “Some people experience a slight ache or electric sensation at insertion, but most people find it deeply relaxing.” I can say from my personal experience that any discomfort is minimal and is far outweighed by the benefits. 

In contrast to other healing modalities, acupuncture addresses sports injuries by looking at the whole person. For example, a runner with chronic plantar faciitis or heel spurs might have a stagnant or blocked kidney meridian. “The kidney meridian, which initiates at the bottom of the foot is often the meridian related to plantar faciitis imbalances,” says Wilson. “Therefore, treating the kidney meridian can often reduce or even eliminate the problem.”

Acupuncture can also promote rest and relaxation, which is essential for both preventing and recovering from injuries.  I have witnessed the tremendous power of acupuncture to calm my mind as well as heal my body. I also find my acupuncture treatments have improved the quality of my sleep. Wilson also points out that “acupuncture can be an extremely beneficial support in conjunction with other therapies used by runners”.

The jury is still out, but research does support acupuncture’s helpfulness in healing sports injuries. Furthermore, unlike other sports medicine therapies (such as cortisone injections), acupuncture does not appear to have negative side effects. The field of acupuncture encompasses many different styles and theories. Practitioners should be nationally certified and extensively educated as it takes years of study. Log on to the National Certification Committee for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine at to locate a nationally-certified acupuncturist in your area.

Be Well, 


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One Response to “Acupuncture For Sports Injuries”

  1. sports acupuncture Says:

    Acupuncture is very useful in sports injuries. It not only recover you very well from injuries but also prevent you from further injuries by making your body more flexible.

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