Acupuncture Gives an Edge in Sports Injury Management

Whether you are a recreational runner or an elite athlete there is nothing more frustrating than when an injury keeps you from participating in the exercise that you love. It doesn’t matter whether it is an ankle sprain or niggling knee pain; time away from sport can be frustrating. With time off training your thoughts immediately go to the hard fought gains that you have made in your conditioning and how they are slowly slipping away with every day you cannot train.

With any acute injury, you should follow the R.I.C.E.R principle. R.I.C.E.R stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation and Referral. The correct application of ice to an injury for the first 48 hours immediately after injury is thought to be the best way to reduce the amount of swelling and bleeding at the site of injury. There are several ways to apply ice but it is best not to apply the ice directly onto bare skin. You can use a purpose made ice pack but other suitable ways to apply ice include ice wrapped in a towel, a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth or immersion in an ice bath. Whichever method you use, apply the ice to the area for 15-20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours. Apply a gentle compression bandage and elevate the area then seek advice from a health professional.

Beyond the acute stage, conventional care may involve stretching, massage, and rehabilitation exercises. This traditional approach helps most people get back to their favourite physical activity eventually.

Unknown to most, many professional sporting teams, including the AIS and the Australian Olympic team have another way to get their athletes back to training as quickly as possible; acupuncture.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine has a very long history in dealing with sports injuries. For centuries acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine has been used by martial artists to support both acute and chronic sports injuries. Specific acupuncture techniques and herbal medicine formulas have been developed to support recovery.

Acupuncture can be used in the immediate post injury phase eg just after an ankle sprain, Achilles strain or hamstring muscle tear and support can be continued until a return to normal activity. It is not uncommon to have someone present with an old sports injury which has not fully resolved – even in this phase acupuncture can often support normal function. Even stubborn conditions such as tennis elbow can be supported by acupuncture where conservative therapy has been unsuccessful.

You don’t have to be a professional athlete to use acupuncture for support after an injury. Everyone from “weekend warriors” to elite athletes can benefit.

About Ian Murray

Ian is a registered acupuncturist and Chinese Herbal Medicine practitioner at Kenmore Centre for Health. This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.
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