Learning & Resource Center Articles
Boost Your Fitness and Sports Performance
By: Trina Lion L.Ac., Dipl.Ac.
When a top athlete like Kobe Bryant tweets a picture of acupuncture needles in his leg, you know it’s time to consider acupuncture and Oriental medicine for improving sports performance. All athletes and coaches are involved in an ongoing search for ways to improve performance and gain a competitive edge over their rivals. Many are finding that acupuncture can often provide that edge.
From moving more fluidly to recovering from an injury, acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you to stay active, boost your fitness level, and recover more quickly. By following the principles of Oriental medicine, an acupuncture treatment can strengthen body function and restore internal harmony and balance. Professional sports teams and top athletes often have an acupuncturist on staff to treat injuries and keep them performing at their peak.
Acupuncture can increase exercise capacity, according to researchers from the <i>University of California</i>. Study subjects biking on a test ramp were able to work harder after receiving an acupuncture treatment. Their systolic blood pressure also declined, indicating more efficient blood circulation.
Are you looking for your next "runner’s high"? Scientists from the <i>Neuroscience Research Institute in China</i> found that acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins, which can reduce the sensation of pain. Instead of trying to exercise and get fit with a philosophy of "no pain, no gain," you may be able to use acupuncture to experience less pain while you pursue your fitness goals.
Practitioners of Oriental medicine can help athletes, even the amateur "weekend warrior," in many ways. Tight, stiff muscles may be helped by manual techniques such as cupping, a suction-based massage, and Gua Sha, a Chinese form of friction massage. In 2011, researchers at the University of Duisburg-Essen found that Gua Sha was effective at treating chronic pain and muscle stiffness in the lower back.
In India, researchers from Majeedia Hospital found cupping helped to reduce pain, inflammation, and muscle stiffness in patients diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis. Cupping also improved blood supply to the area and simulated light exercise, leading to increased muscle flexibility in the region, researchers explained.
Some of the best Olympic athletes incorporate acupuncture into their wellness programs. China's 7 foot 6 inch basketball center, Yao Ming, used acupuncture and Oriental medicine to help him recover after undergoing surgery on his ankle. Chinese swimmer, Wang Qun, was photographed doing some last minute training in Beijing with round marks on her back from cupping.
Call an acupuncturist in your area today to see how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you meet your fitness goals and assist in recovering from an injury!
Trina Lion, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac., is an American acupuncturist currently living in Shanghai, China, where for the past three years she has been teaching Traditional Chinese Medicine concepts including nutrition, herbs, and acupuncture. She has apprenticed in two clinics in Shanghai, practiced for two years in an expat clinic, and taught at Jiao Tong University, one of the oldest universities in China. In December 2013 she completed her first textbook for students describing TCM terminology. Prior to becoming an acupuncturist, Trina was an educator and literacy specialist who created educational materials for institutions that included the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the American Museum of Natural History, and the New York Public Library, among others.