Contributing Author: Kim M. Filkins, L.Ac.
Almost everybody has participated in sports activities at some point in their life. Along with playing sports comes the possibility of getting injured. Most of the time it’s something simple like a sprained ankle or general overuse of a muscle causing pain. For those weekend warriors and everyday athletes, it just means a couple of days rest. But for a professional athlete, a couple days off during the season can really derail their momentum. Many athletes are turning to acupuncture to help them heal quicker. Here are some ways acupuncture helps in treating sports injuries.
When there is injury to an area, there may be swelling that accompanies the injury. Swelling is a normal biological function and generally you should let it take its course. But, excessive swelling that doesn’t dissipate can lead to stagnation of blood in the injured area. Over time, stagnation can make an injury worse. Acupuncture needles actually encourage the body to release the swelling quicker through promoting urination. This gets rid of the excess water and allows the blood to flow more freely. Proper blood flow allows the area to receive the components it needs to heal.
Sports injuries also create pain. The pain can be localized or it can radiate to other areas and acupuncture is a great tool for treating pain. In fact, pain relief is probably the most common reason people seek out an acupuncturist to begin with. Pain from injury is again related to a stagnation in the energetic channels that run through the body. Acupuncture needles open up the channels allowing blood and lymph to flow freely by removing the blockage. Once the blockage or stagnation is gone, the pain will soon lessen and disappear.
Inflammation is frequently a problem associated with sports injuries. The thought used to be that applying ice to inflamed areas would bring the inflammation down. And for the first 48 to 72 hours, this rule still applies. However, 72 hours after an injury occurs, one should begin applying heat to prevent further stagnation in the affected area. That aside, beginning acupuncture treatments immediately following a sports injury is good medicine. There are specific acupuncture points on the body that function to reduce inflammation. So getting treated right away can actually lead to you being back on the field sooner.
Muscle tightness and spasms are also common with sports injuries. This happens when the muscles surrounding the area become overworked and overextended. Acupuncture works very well for stopping muscle spasms and releasing muscle tightness. There is an accessory modality known as gua sha that involves gently scraping a smooth surfaced item like a spoon, along the muscle to “release” the tension accumulated within it. Most acupuncturists will provide gua sha after the acupuncture needles have been pulled. This gives the athlete a much deeper treatment and helps the muscles relax back to their normal position.
Utilizing acupuncture when you experience a sports injury is a great way to get yourself healthy. And generally, it works faster than just rest, ice and ibuprofen. The acupuncture needles enhance blood flow to the area of injury. Increased blood flow to an injured area allows for the muscles to relax and pain to dissipate. If you have a sports-related injury, consider acupuncture to help you get better. To learn more, contact a licensed acupuncturist. Your body will thank you and you’ll be back out there sooner than you might have thought.
Acupuncture in Professional Sports
Many professional sports teams now have licensed acupuncturists on staff to help treat injury and increase overall athletic performance within the players. Here are a few famous athletes who receive acupuncture.
1. Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers is just one of many professional athletes who use acupuncture for recovery and performance. Ever since Rodgers injured his calf in 2015 he has seen an acupuncturist to not only relieve pain, but also to increase his performance on the football field.
2. NBA superstar and newly-retired Kobe Bryant also uses acupuncture. Bryant has been a long time supporter of traditional Chinese medicine, and has used acupuncture to battle the many injuries he faced toward the end of his career.
3. Kim Clijsters, a former No. 1 ranked tennis player, started using acupuncture after sustaining a hip injury in 2010. After receiving treatment for the injury, the Belgian went on finish with an impressive win-streak the U.S. Open.
In addition to using acupuncture and other forms of traditional Chinese medicine, there are other ways athletes seek to up their game as the 2016 Olympics round the corner. One of the simplest ways to increase performance is by watching what you are consuming. You ever heard the saying you are what you eat? Chances are you have, if not, well I am glad that now you have, because there could not be a truer statement.
By carefully calculating what we put into our bodies we can increase athletic performance in addition to bettering all aspects of our life. It doesn’t have to all start with a full meal, there are little additions you can make to foods and snacks within your normal dietary routine, which will increase performance and herbs are one of the most crucial things to add to your diet in order to better your physical potential.
Arnica – Arnica is an herb native to the mountains known for its very interesting and healing properties. Arnica is utilized by lots of distance runners. It is known to wipe out muscle soreness, which is pent up after long-distance runs. Some popular ways arnica is consumed, is in teas and dairy-based desserts. It will help you help those muscles so you can sustain a high level of athletic performance.
Astragalus – Ah, another fun name to say. But, a very beneficial name to be saying, it is always good to have astragalus around the house. This herb is known to boost overall health and goes by the names Huang Chi or Huang Qi. With names like that, which directly apply to energy, you know it is a good choice to increase your performance.
Straying away from the herb’s side of things, let’s look at some specific foods to add to your diet in order to boost energy and performance levels.
Beets – Beetroot contains lots of nitrates and does wonders for your circulatory system, this is key for an athlete. You need to have a healthy-functioning circulatory system in order to complete the tasks you wish to accomplish, adding a steady dose of this veggie to your diet will help with that.
Salmon – How many times can you say Omega-3s? Omega-3s, Omega-3s, Omega-3s. What a coincidence, three times! But, truthfully you could say Omega-3s much more than this amount. Salmon, like most fish, is packed full of these fatty acids, which are great for muscle repair and anti-inflammatory properties.
Whether it be adding a powerful-enhancing herb to your day to day routine, or changing some of the foods you eat within your diet, there are vast amounts of ways to up your game naturally. We are barely scratching the surface with this list. Don’t forget, acupuncture is also one of the best ways to increase athletic performance, so visit a licensed acupuncturist today.
There's been LOTS of talk in the news about Cupping therapy in the past week as Michael Phelps and other Olympians have been sporting the dark purple circles often associated with it. Yes, sometimes it makes you look like you've been attacked by a giant squid (which could be accurate for Michael...) but it isn't always that way, especially if you use moving cupping where the provider glides the cups over the skin instead of letting them sit in one place. No matter what type of cupping a therapist uses, however, the primary results are the same - decreased pain and increased function.
So, if cupping works for Michael Phelps, can it work for you? Is cupping something good for all of us?
3,000 years of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine says yes! Cupping has a long history as a proven method for increasing health a vitality by increasing blood flow, increasing Qi flow and relieving stagnation all of which equal again a reduction in pain.
I've written articles about the what and why of cupping in the past, so rather than repeat those details in this post, I'd like to write a brief FAQ. Been getting a lot of questions lately!
Cupping FAQ in Portland and SW Washington
Does Cupping Hurt?
No. Cupping generally does not hurt. It can feel tight and you certainly feel a pulling sensation from the suction in the cups, but it typically is not painful. If it is painful, you should tell your provider immediately and they will reduce the suction to ensure your comfort.
How Long Do Cupping Marks Last?
How long the marks last depends on your body's ability to flush out the inflammation and toxins that have risen to the surface. Typically at All Ways Well, we see that the first time you get cupped the marks tend to last the longest - sometimes as long as 14 days, though somewhere between 5-9 is most common. The more often you cup, the less color you see and the quicker color tends to resolve. If you cup frequently and have an episode of dark color, it typically fades in 3 days.
What is Cupping good for?
Cupping is good for multitude of things and a comprehensive list can be found HERE. Most often, cupping is used to treat injury and pain in the back, neck and shoulders. Cupping can be used on any muscular part of the body, however, and like Gua Sha, can even be used on the face for wrinkle reduction!
Is Cupping Safe?
Cupping is a safe therapy and it can be used on people of any age. In fact, cupping is a very common therapy to use to treat children instead of Acupuncture to create healing and change. There are some contraindications for cupping, such as cupping over weeping sores or wounds in and in the case of lymphatic-spread cancer. A full and detailed health history is always a must as well as visual inspection of the area to be treated and a licensed provider should always do both before starting treatment.
Can Acupuncture and Cupping be used together?
YES!!! Acupuncture and Cupping are in fact designed to be used together and one greatly increases the efficacy of the other!
Want to know more? Ready to try it out? Book online anytime - cupping is regularly included in Acupuncture sessions and is always available by request! Until next time, yours in health ~Rebecca
Research has now shown that acupuncture can help the body in many ways. From repairing the digestive system to boosting Qi, enhancing athletic performance to mending strains and sprains, acupuncture has many uses and most of these uses are beneficial for professional athletes.
As the Olympics in Rio get closer and closer with each passing day athletes are beginning to fine tune their bodies for the upcoming events. Every athlete wants to be at their top performance level as they put everything on the line for their country. Acupuncture is one key some Olympians use to achieve that extra competitive edge and get their physical and mental aspects ready for the games. Some of the biggest names on the Olympic stage are making acupuncture part of their health regimen.
In 2012, during the London Olympics, acupuncture was widely acknowledged in the Olympic community as an extremely beneficial solution to guaranteeing a higher level of athletic performance. Since London, more and more Olympic athletes have been turning to the needle to and have been receiving excellent results.
Wang Qun, an Olympic swimmer for the Chinese team has been known to perform in events with cupping marks still present on her skin. Cupping is a form of traditional Chinese medicine, which involves applying heated glass cups to the skin to encourage smooth energy flow; it stimulates your Qi as the cups are placed along the meridian lines of your body. In addition to Qun, other members of the Chinese Olympic Team use acupuncture, most notably being windsurfer Yin Jian, a gold medalist in the 2008 Olympics. Jian attributed nightly acupuncture with helping her achieve success and curing the muscle strains she experienced on a daily basis.
Acupuncture isn’t solely practiced by the Chinese Olympic Team. This form of traditional Chinese medicine has made its way to Olympians from the U.S. and Canada as well. Bronze medalist and track-athlete Dee Dee Trotter used daily visits from her local acupuncturist to help her unlock the potential needed to win third place in the 400-meter run at the London Olympic Games.
Mark McMorris, a Canadian snowboarder, upped his game with acupuncture before his bronze-medal finish at the Sochi Olympics. After injuring his body during the X games weeks prior to the Olympics, McMorris began to attend acupuncture sessions to recalibrate his body, and by the results shown, we know it worked. McMorris went on to perform outstandingly in the Slopestyle event and brought back the bronze medal for the Canadian Olympic Team.
See, acupuncture is beneficial in many ways. Although you may be hesitant to stray away from the trusted and commonplace forms of Western medicine, you should really consider giving acupuncture a try. If it wasn’t enough that one in every 10 U.S. adults have tried acupuncture, just consider the facts, even the pros are doing it to recover, enhance and overall better their body.
This is my family and we are super. My son Ashur is 5 now (gasp!) and completes Lego's for kids 2x his age, my daughter Boudi is 3 and wants to be Superman, and my super husband is just too awesome as he continues to grow and increase his certifications in advanced manual therapy techniques (yes, lots of extra letters after the PT at the end of his title now!).
This year is a landmark for us - 10 years in practice (November), 10 years of marriage (September) and a new home (May!). Its truly been something else.
As I have traversed this confluence of events in 2016, I realized that for our anniversary there was one last very significant thing that I could give to my husband and I decided it was the perfect time. What is it you might ask? Aside from this awesome rendering of my super family (I know, there's DC + Marvel in there but everyone had to have their favorites) - my name.
I took a page out of my Aunt Marci's book shifting my last name to my middle name and am now officially Rebecca M H Kitzerow.
I am still the same old me, can't really change that, but my name is now anew. My license and records with insurance companies will be changing over the next month and by September, all should be switched over.
So if you see Kitzerow on your claims from your insurance company, don't fret - its still me! I will be keeping the Hurwood in materials for marketing for quite some time to transition my name fully over.
New cards are available in the office and the information on my website will be changing forthwith. Thank you all for your understanding and patience as this takes place. I hope to see you in the office soon!
Yours in Health,
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.