Research on Acupuncture Shows It Can Help Sport & Office InjuriesAcupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical therapy which works to encourage the body to heal itself. In providing treatment an acupuncturist uses small needles on parts of the body.
Acupuncture can be used in two ways to treat injuries, either by treating the injured area only, or by following the principles of traditional Chinese medicine where the patient’s complete picture of health is taken into account.
Acupuncture works at different levels to treat musculoskeletal injuries. It works on the whole body, as following an acupuncture treatment a variety of substances are released including endorphins, serotonin, and neuropeptides/neurotransmitters to aid pain relief and relaxation.
Acupuncture also has local effects. There is evidence that acupuncture can aid healing and resolution of injuries, including reducing pain, increasing local microcirculation and attracting white blood cells to the area, both of which speed the healing rate, and aid dispersal of swelling and bruising. Acupuncture releases chemicals which increase the healing rate of soft tissues, and speed nerve regeneration.
Acupuncture & Sport
There are 29 million sports injuries in Britain each year. One third of these injuries are serious enough to result in medical treatment or to affect normal day-to-day activities. The most common injuries are leg sprains or strains, and half of all tennis players develop tennis elbow.
Acupuncture is one treatment that is increasingly used by top sports players and athletes to treat musculoskeletal problems. It is used both on its own and in conjunction with other therapies such as physiotherapy and osteopathy. Professional sports teams are also now offering acupuncture to their players both to treat an injury and to keep them performing at their peak. Many high profile teams have dedicated acupuncturists on board, including the British Rugby team, many Premiership football teams and the British Olympic team.
There are physical and psychological barriers to peak performance. Musculo-skeletal pain or dysfunction can have an inhibiting effect on training and results. Acupuncture addresses these. It also encourages clear headedness through its relaxing effects on brain waves, and can alleviate anxiety contributing to a better mental state, allowing sports people to perform at their highest level. In 2000 German researchers found that acupuncture increased strength in the quadriceps by 10 per cent.
Several recent studies highlight the effectiveness of acupuncture on various conditions.
Athletes with shin splints were treated with either acupuncture alone, acupuncture and sports medicine or sports medicine. Those treated with either acupuncture or acupuncture in combination with sports medicine felt the greatest pain relief.
Sufferers treated with acupuncture had significant reductions in pain and improvements in arm function in comparison to those treated with sham acupuncture. In another study acupuncture was found to be significantly more effective in reducing pain than ultra sound in tennis elbow sufferers.
Acupuncture was found to combat the increased stress levels suffered by athletes following exercise. It was also found to reduce muscle tension and fatigue.
New research has found that office workers who suffer from chronic neck and shoulder pain felt the benefits for 3 years following a course of acupuncture treatment.
Norwegian researchers from the University of Oslo took a group of 24 women office workers who had suffered for several years with chronic neck and shoulder pain with related headaches. Half were treated with acupuncture and half became the control group, who received a sham acupuncture.
The 12 women who had acupuncture received it ten times in a three to four week period, and had fewer headaches and greatly reduced neck and shoulder pain. These improvements were still noticeable three years on.