Acupuncture and Athletics

Acupuncture can be very effective for the treatment of sports and other activity related injuries. Even western medicine has begun to recognize the benefits of “dry needling” for the treatment of sports injuries and pain. Dry needling is the practice of needling motor points with a “dry” (non-hypodermic) needle. In fact many states now allow physical therapists to practice “dry needling” because of it’s powerful benefits.[1]

Acupuncturists have known the benefits of this treatment strategy for thousands of years. Defined in the West as; hyper-irritable spots in skeletal muscle that are painful upon deep palpation and give rise to referred pain and motor dysfunction, found in palpable, taut bands of skeletal muscle, extremely sensitive, motor points have been known in the east for centuries and were referred to in the classical text books as Ashir points.[2]

The benefits of needling these points include…

  • Causing a fasiculation or twitch which alleviates tight / tense muscles.
  • Reducing pain and discomfort
  • Promoting injury repair and healing
  • Elicit change within the soft tissue of the body, muscles and facia.

Electro Acupuncture was developed in China around 1934 and works similar to TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) therapy. Which is the practice of placing conductive pads on the skin to deliver a mild electrical current trasnscutaneously to the nerve fibers. Electro Acupuncture more correctly called Percutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation works in the same way however the electrical current is delivered through the acupuncture needles. Allowing the effect to reach much deeper into the tissues and specifically target muscles or anatomy of the body.

The benefits of Electo Acupuncture are…

  • Interrupt the pain cycle.
  • Increase in range of motion.
  • Improved physical rehabilitation.
  • Regeneration of nerve fibers and tissue repair.

There are many, many more acupuncture techniques which can be useful in the treatment of sports injuries and that can helpful to those in the Sports Medicine field that I hope to write about in the future.

[1] Dommerholt, Jan. Dry Needling in Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Practice. Orthopaedic Pracitice Vol. 16;3:04

[2] Amaro, John. When Acupuncture Becomes “Dry Needling.” Dynamic Chiropractic Vol. 26. Issue 12.  June, 2008.

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Sam Kressin