Considered part of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is one of the oldest, continually practiced ancient medicines. It’s become a mainstay in alternative medicine, right next to chiropractic work.
How can athletes use the power of acupuncture to improve their game? Well, it’s not an alternative to old-fashioned training, but it can assist an athlete who is already on a rigorous regimen.
One of the best uses could be for treating muscles and joints in a particular area to prevent potential injury while training. Injury prevention is one of the easiest ways to make sure an athlete will never get off of his or her training schedule.
It’s hard to train when your ankles are strained or a muscle is torn.
If an athlete suffered an injury already and is working on healing, acupuncture may be a step in the right direction, because it can help with the pain, help increase the range of motion and accelerate healing. Generally, acupuncture is excellent for injury treatment because it can help decrease inflammation, swelling and bruising, improve circulation, relax muscles and relieve spasms.
Acupuncture can help the patient achieve a sense of balance, which also instills a sense of calm and can ease stress and anxiety. This is perfect for preparing and getting relaxed for a big game or performance.
Even more beneficial is acupuncture’s ability to increase awareness. No matter what your sport, situational awareness and “being present” is key.
During training, the immune system of an athlete can take a hit as the body is put under constant stress. Acupuncture has been shown to increase T-cell levels and help increase the patient’s immune system.
Basketball players were used in a study to see how quickly athletes were able to recover with the help of acupuncture. The blood lactic acid level, the heart rate and the oxygen consumption of the acupuncture group was significantly lower than for the other groups.
There are tons of potential benefits for athletes who choose to use acupuncture. Though be warned that the effectiveness of acupuncture varies from person to person. Some people may see performance gains, while others may not.
Luckily, one of the benefits of acupuncture is there seems to be no negative side effects linked to practicing it. On top of that, the U.S. Olympic committee allows it. It appears to be a potential win-win.