With competition amongst athletes getting fiercer than ever, more and more athletes are looking for alternatives like TCM to enhance sporting performance. Intensive workout can lead to muscle soreness, strain, sprain or even trigger old injuries. TCM aims to speed up the process of recovery and regulate overall body wellness to improve the athletic capacity of the body.
How It Works
Acupuncture has gained wide recognition for pain management over the years. The insertion of a needle stimulates the acupoint and enhances the production of Nitric Oxide (NO). NO-mediated vasodilation increases local blood circulation, which brings about inflammatory mediators to speed up the healing process. The increase in blood flow also accelerates the elimination of lactic acid, reducing muscle fatigue and soreness.
Though acupuncture has been primarily used for pain management, recent studies have demonstrated good prospect in the application of acupuncture for performance enhancement in recreational and professional athletes.
Electroacupuncture is able to generate similar excitatory characteristics within the muscle, as achieved in exercise, to strengthen muscles. Muscle strength improvement is essential for injury prevention and achievement of peak performance.
In 2016, Michael Phelps brought fame to cupping therapy when he was spotted with the distinctive circular marks on his shoulders and backs during the Olympics. Cupping therapy involves the placement or movement of cups along our body’s meridian points. According to TCM, pain can be an indication of possible stagnant points in your body. Cupping promotes the movement of Qi by opening up stagnant points, therefore relieving muscle soreness.
The suction created by pressure difference causes the vasodilation of superficial capillaries and increases localised blood flow and lymphatic flow. Over time, prolonged increment of vascular pressure can lead to ruptured capillaries, which will be reflected as the cupping marks.
As a result, anti-inflammatory substances are drawn to the area, reducing local inflammation and recovery duration. Though cupping marks resemble bruises, it does not involve tissue damage found in trauma-induced bruises.
The integration of Chinese medication can be invaluable for an athlete’s optimum performance. TCM treatment is well known for its personalised and dynamic approach. Depending on patients’ needs, a physician may prescribe herbs to improve one’s body condition. This includes boosting oxygen uptake for endurance sports, improving energy levels, enhancing nutrients absorption and strengthening bone and muscle.
Example of herbs prescribed includes:
Note: Information provided is not a substitute for a physician or any form of medical care. Individual symptoms differ due to different body constitutions and diagnosis. One should consult a licensed TCM practitioner for accurate diagnosis and treatment.