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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Acupuncture for Athletic Injuries

Often overlooked, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine are great ways to heal and prevent sports injuries. They can also enhance performance, especially in mature athletes. The acupuncture physician may include other modalities such as massage, cupping and gua sha to shorten recovery time, reduce stiffness, swelling and tension.

Gua sha is a traditional Chinese healing method. The therapist uses a smooth-edged, stone-like tool to stroke the skin while pressing on it. People use the method to treat chronic pain all over the body, and frequently along with other complementary treatments such as massage and acupuncture.

Cupping is an ancient form of alternative healing. A therapist puts special small cups, generally made of glass, on the skin to create suction. Dating back to ancient Egyptian and Chinese cultures, it is used today for many purposes such as pain, inflammation and blood flow.

Acupuncture, which can improve range of motion and therefore, performance, can also address injury causing symptoms. Many athletes experience repetitive strain injuries, over-exertion, sprains, and strains, and use painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications to dull and reduce inflammation. This may be a temporary fix to the symptoms and mask the root of the injury, but does not lead to healing, because painkillers and anti-inflammatories do not heal. They only give temporary relief.

Acupuncture and its many modalities address the fascia of the body that is no longer functioning optimally and hindering movement and performance. Fascia is a three-dimensional webbing throughout the entire body which creates stability to the structure, protects the body from injury and protects injuries while healing. It’s normally supple, stretchy and flexible, allowing it to slide around the muscles and joints, but when fascia gets stiff and sticky, the body experiences areas of sensitivity and tightness, a reduced range of motion and chronic pain.

An acupuncture physician generally works with an athlete after some type of injury to get them back on the court, golf course, to the gym, etc. The result is often that an athlete’s performance is increased with greater mobility after injury. Lack of movement or hindered movement means hindered performance.

The problem is generally not where the pain is felt, therefore, a thorough postural assessment is necessary to get to the root or causative factor. A good acupuncture physician gives the client homework to enhance the healing process, creates more of a team effort and educates athletes about self-care. Athletes frequently push their bodies to the limit, therefore the importance of regular visits is emphasized to make sure things get on track and stay on track.

Doctor of Oriental Medicine Terri Evans is the owner of Tae Healthy Aging Center, located at 11983 Tamiami Tr. N., Ste. 100A, in Naples. For more information, call 239-430-6800 or visit See ad, page 34.