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Improve Flexibility and Strengthen Joints with Oriental Medicine

By: Vanessa Vogel Batt L.Ac. MSOM

Your joints are the points in the body where two bones are attached. They are mostly composed of fibrous connective tissue and cartilage, and their purpose is to provide structure and allow for articulation.

For serious lovers of athletic activity, maintaining strength and suppleness in the joints is critical to preventing bursitis, sprains, tendonitis, dislocations, and other sports-related injuries.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine offer treatments and strategies that can help.

Tui na, roughly translated as 'pinch and pull,' is an excellent way to give a boost of power to ailing joints as well as the surrounding structures. It encompasses a wide range of therapeutic massage techniques.

Traditionally, it is used as a tool to treat illness and injuries rather than solely provide a pleasurable, relaxing event. Words such as pulling, pinching, rolling, shaking, stretching, pressing, and kneading accurately describe the way a patient's body is manipulated during a session.

There are many reasons why tui na is utilized for treating athletes with joint issues. It can reduce inflammation, control pain, and help with the symmetry of movement. A practitioner can relieve the pressure put on certain joints by applying tui na to the muscles that support those joints.

As pain and inflammation reduce, proper articulation of the joint is attained. As joints strengthen, the body begins to move properly, ensuring no undue tension is placed in the wrong spots. This power and flexibility of the joints enable athletes to perform with confidence.

To further assist athletic performance and stave off injuries, dietary and lifestyle modifications may be in order. To help your joints stay pliable and lubricated, increasing your intake of healthy fats may be in order. Potent sources of unsaturated fatty acids are generally found in fish, nuts, avocados, and olive oil.

On the flip-side, avoiding foods known to cause irritation and inflammation should be kept to a minimum, or even abstained altogether. This group includes any type of refined sugars or carbohydrates such as pasta, pastries, bread, white sugar, and soda.

It is also important that athletes make time for proper rest and relaxation. Meditation is one of the foundations of Oriental medicine and should ideally be practiced on a daily basis. Meditation is a time of quiet contemplation and regeneration. There are many different ways to do it, and not all of them involve sitting down with your eyes closed.

Any activity done with a conscious intention qualifies as meditation. Walking with deliberate steps, staring intently at an object, and noticing the flow of your breathing are all easy to perform. These meditations can be done for as little as one minute, or longer if it feels right.

Immediate effects from even the most modest of meditations can cause a lowering of the heart rate and a pleasing, relaxing sensation. Or, it could be, there is a physical or mental pain which surfaces that had previously been suppressed. Disharmony or pain may arise in order to be dealt with.

As a matter of fact, meditating shortly after a tui na treatment could prove an advantageous time to do so. To further amplify the healing energy generated for improving joint health, enjoy a delish fish dinner or snack on a handful of almonds.

If you find your athletic activity is proving difficult on your joints, contact a practitioner today for a holistic treatment that will benefit your body and mind.

Source:  Joint Pain. (2019). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from

About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.

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