If you need an effective, safe way to treat your aches and pains after a tough workout, acupuncture might be just the answer for you. Even pro athletes are beginning to see the benefits of acupuncture for reducing recovery times and improving performance. Among the many benefits of acupuncture for fitness are pain management, increased flexibility, and decreased swelling.
Acupuncture has been a common practice in Traditional Chinese Medicine for more than 2,500 years. During the 2008 Olympics, acupuncture was widely used for preventing injury and for pain relief. In fact, the World Health Organization recommends acupuncture as a safe method for managing injury and pain as well as supporting optimum health.
Whether you hit the gym regularly, run, or play sports, regular acupuncture treatments can improve your workouts.
- 1 A Typical Acupuncture Session
- 2 How Acupuncture Works
- 3 10 Ways Acupuncture May Be Used to Improve Your Workouts
- 3.1 1. For Pain Relief
- 3.2 2. For Improved Blood Flow
- 3.3 3. To Relax Muscles
- 3.4 4. For Treatment and Prevention of Injury
- 3.5 5. For Improved Endurance and Energy
- 3.6 6. For Faster Recovery Times
- 3.7 7. To Reduce Stress Levels
- 3.8 8. For Increased Focus and Mental Clarity
- 3.9 9. To Reduce Scar Tissue
- 3.10 10. Common Sports and Workout Injuries That Acupuncture Helps
A Typical Acupuncture Session
During an acupuncture session, ultra-fine, sterile needles are inserted into the skin at specific acupuncture points. The treatment is usually very relaxing, and most patients report no pain or only a slight pinch when the needles are inserted. The typical acupuncture session can last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour or more.
How Acupuncture Works
Acupuncture theory teaches that energy, called Qi, runs through the human body in pathways. If those pathways become blocked due to stress, injury, or illness it can cause an imbalance that leads to pain and other symptoms. Acupuncture helps to restore the proper flow of Qi. Modern science acknowledges that acupuncture can benefit many of the body’s systems, including the digestive, respiratory, and neurological systems.
10 Ways Acupuncture May Be Used to Improve Your Workouts
Doctors at the Yinova Center Acupuncture Clinic recommend acupuncture as a safe, non-invasive treatment, that can be used instead of, or along with, Western medicine to treat injury and enhance the body’s ability to heal. That means you can get back in the gym more often and make the most of your workouts.
1. For Pain Relief
The inserting of the acupuncture needles stimulates the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkiller. Endorphins can give you fast and lasting relief, often after the first treatment. Not only can endorphins be 10,000 times more effective than morphine, but acupuncture treatments can also improve your range of motion while lessening inflammation and boosting the immune system. This method of treatment is far safer than taking drugs to mask the pain because you could create permanent damage through overuse. Acupuncture offers a valid choice for pain relief without dangerous side effects.
2. For Improved Blood Flow
The placement of acupuncture needles into the skin activates specific acupuncture points and causes an increased amount of nitric oxide to flow through the blood vessels. The nitric oxide makes the blood vessels widen and relax, and it also opens the arteries. This treatment enables better blood flow to your lungs and heart, which leads to a healthier heart and better circulation. Additionally, your blood is responsible for carrying oxygen and nutrients throughout your entire body, so increased blood flow means healthier muscles and joints, too.
3. To Relax Muscles
The improved blood flow that is brought on by an acupuncture treatment also extends to beyond the organs and into the muscles. For this reason alone, acupuncture can be very beneficial to anyone who works out regularly. The increased blood flow leads to reduced inflammation, and it relaxes tight muscles. If your muscles are tight, your range of motion will be restricted, making your workout less effective and possibly even leading to long-term injury. By reducing muscle strain and weariness, acupuncture can help to prevent injuries before they ever occur.
4. For Treatment and Prevention of Injury
Acupuncture helps to balance the cardiovascular and neurological systems to help prevent injury. When injuries do occur, acupuncture treatments can direct circulation to the injury to speed up the healing process.
5. For Improved Endurance and Energy
Since acupuncture can be used to correct the nervous system, it can also lead to improved endurance and energy to improve your workout performance. Acupuncture also addresses lung and liver function, as well as digestive function, so it can boost your energy by getting rid of any blockages and improving the movement of Qi in the body.
6. For Faster Recovery Times
Faster recovery times mean you can get back in the gym sooner. When you have acupuncture treatments in between your workouts, they will enable a quicker recovery by reducing muscle pain and fatigue and giving you more energy. The treatments can also help get more restful, deep sleep that allows for faster healing.
7. To Reduce Stress Levels
Having a right balance between the mind and the body is essential for a good workout. Unfortunately, we live in a world that’s high stress. We are continually putting strain on our nervous system, and we don’t give it enough time to rest. Eventually, all this stress can take a toll on your ability to work out effectively and push your limits. Acupuncture strengthens nervous system activity and helps the body cope with stress. Not only that, but those endorphins we mentioned earlier can also give you a more positive outlook.
8. For Increased Focus and Mental Clarity
Patients that get acupuncture treatments regularly say that they sleep better, have more energy, and have less anxiety and stress. This all leads to better focus and mental clarity. When you can focus on your workouts, they will be more effective.
9. To Reduce Scar Tissue
If you’ve had a severe injury that resulted in excess scar tissue from surgery, you know how much that pain can affect your ability to work out. Acupuncture can be used to reduce the size of the scar, as well as the tension and pain of the scar tissue.
10. Common Sports and Workout Injuries That Acupuncture Helps
- Strained or sprained ankles
- Strained or sprained wrists
- Strains or tears of the rotator cuff
- Arthritis in the Knees
- Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow
Acupuncture is a safe, non-invasive way to improve your ability to work out and achieve better results. It can also get help to prevent and treat common workout injuries.