Being a professional athlete can be rewarding since you can dedicate your life to playing a sport you’re passionate about. But behind all the excitement is hours of intense training that can be tough on your body.
Since it’s important to allow your body to rest so you can perform at your best, regular acupuncture treatments can be a beneficial addition to your routine. Not many know this, but a few popular athletes get consistent acupuncture treatments because it alleviates pain, reduces recovery, and prevents sports injuries.
If you’re still unsure whether acupuncture is the right treatment for you, below is a quick scoop on what it can do for athletes.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine that involves inserting thin needles to specific points on your body.
Acupuncture believes that energy flows through different pathways or meridians through your body, and once a path gets blocked, pain or disease manifests. Inserting needles at specific points releases these blockages and restores healthy energy flow.
Although it’s mainly used to reduce pain, acupuncture also benefits overall wellness since it can help manage various physical and mental conditions.
How can acupuncture help athletes?
Inserting needles into your skin in between your training sessions may not be your idea of relaxation, but acupuncture can be beneficial for an athlete because it:
- Relieves pain
- Speeds up recovery
- Improves range of motion
- Enhances flexibility
It does this by stimulating your central nervous system, triggering the production of endorphins to alleviate pain. It also relaxes your muscles so that you can move more freely in the field.
A systematic review shows that acupuncture is also helpful for treating sports injuries, such as lateral meniscus rapture, sports hernia, and femoral acetabular impingement.
What other medical conditions can acupuncture treat?
Aside from relieving pain and treating sports injuries, acupuncture can help improve your overall wellness since it can treat various chronic or acute symptoms, including:
- Headaches and migraines
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder
- Tennis elbow
- Allergic rhinitis
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
It’s also beneficial for managing mental conditions such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Its relaxing effects can also help improve your sleep, making you feel more well-rested – thus enhancing your mental clarity for your training or game.
How long do the benefits of acupuncture last?
How long the benefits of acupuncture will last depends on the severity of the condition you’re treating.
If you’re using it to speed up your recovery after intense training, you can feel rejuvenated after one session. If you want to treat muscle knots or spasms, 1 or 2 acupuncture sessions can do wonders for your body.
On the other hand, if you want to manage the symptoms of a chronic disease, 1-2 sessions will only have short-term effects. If you want to feel long-lasting effects for your symptoms, you’ll need to do consistent treatments to be effective.
How many acupuncture sessions do you need?
The number of acupuncture sessions you need will depend on your health history and goals. It’s best to talk to your acupuncturist about your treatment plan, so you know what to expect in your upcoming sessions.
If you plan on using acupuncture to reset your body after an intense training session or game, your acupuncturist may recommend 1-2 sessions a week. But if you have an injury or symptom you’d like to treat, they may increase the weekly frequency according to its severity.
Once you start seeing positive results, your practitioner may book your sessions farther apart. But if you’re not seeing any changes, let your acupuncturist know so they can help you determine whether acupuncture is the right treatment for your health goals.
Who shouldn’t do acupuncture?
If you currently have sports injuries or chronic or acute diseases, it’s best to talk to your doctor first to determine whether acupuncture can benefit your condition.
If you have a metal allergy, a blood condition, or are taking blood thinning medication, this treatment may not be for you since the needles can exacerbate your symptoms. Also, take caution if you have a pacemaker since acupuncture with mild electrostimulation can interfere with your device.
Although acupuncture can be beneficial if you’re pregnant, let your acupuncturist know beforehand so they can avoid specific acupoints that can induce labor or other complications.
Ready to try acupuncture?
If you want to try acupuncture to improve your sports performance, book your treatments at Lycoming Orthopedic & Sports Acupuncture. They have a licensed acupuncturist specializing in sports therapy and pain management to help get you back in shape. They also offer dry needling, cupping, electrostimulation, and corrective exercise treatments to help speed up your recovery. For questions or inquiries, please contact their team and book your first session now.