By: Aimee Raupp: Women’s Health and Wellness Expert
Acupuncture is one facet of a 5,000-year-old medical practice known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). And, even though it predates fitness regimens we now know and practice today, acupuncture can help amplify your workout and recovery.
Modern research shows that acupuncture reduces inflammatory markers thereby decreasing soreness, injury risk, muscle fatigue, and soreness. With the insertion of tiny (as thin as a piece of hair) needles into acupuncture points (there are several hundred on the body) blood flow and circulation are improved, the nervous system is soothed and the mind-body connection is enhanced. All of these physiological responses help athletes become more effective and injury resistant.
TCM, which consists of acupuncture, cupping, moxa, gua sha, Chinese herbs, dietary and lifestyle recommendations, is a medicine of prevention. The goal is to prevent the dis-ease (i.e. disharmony, discomfort, disconnection) from ever fully manifesting in the body. By utilizing all aspects of this ancient medical practice the body’s balance is restored and resiliency is amplified which explains why so many professional athletes implement acupuncture and TCM to up their game.
I’ve been practicing TCM for almost 20 years and have treated dozens of athletes, including myself. In training for marathons and distance running, acupuncture has been a staple for my recovery. It also helped heal a torn patellar tendon in my knee, psoas issues, and shoulder tension.
Acupuncture and cupping are imperative not only to my workout regimen’s effectiveness but to dozens of my clients. In addition to improving blood flow and circulation, acupuncture can help release trigger points and any myofascial adhesions.
By inserting acupuncture needles into muscle motor points (AKA muscle fibers with a high degree of neural activity) and triggering motor points (causing the muscle will quickly spasm) the nervous system helps relax that muscle. Over time, this approach literally rewires your muscle patterns.
In addition, because acupuncture has such a profound effect on the nervous system and the overall state of relaxation in your body, regular treatments improve your ability to hone in on your mental state and use it to your advantage when needed for high stake performances or to get into your zone. Even more, regular acupuncture improves sleep, balances hormones, reduces stress, improves digestion and energy and boosts immunity.
As you can see, adding acupuncture (and all aspects of TCM) to your workout regimen is a no brainer — you’ll recover faster, become more resilient, stay in your zone more often, sleep better and be more energized.