The most energetically active part of the year, Yang Within Yang, has just come and gone. The summer solstice brought us the most hours of sun of any day of the year. According to TCM theory, this is the time of year of the fullest expression of vitality, where the most active energy is available for use.
For some of us, our expression of this in the world of physical fitness has us pushing our bodies to the nth degree, striving in healthy competition to carry our team to victory, to push ourselves to yet another personal best. As glorious and this all sounds, the reality of this time is that we often push our bodies just a fraction too far, laying out in a full sprint to catch the ball, or colliding with an opponent, or pushing that last sprint interval the extra 500 meters.
Injuries are inevitable over time when we push ourselves to this level. We never know when they’ll happen, but often, in the moment, it is our mind that tells us to go for it, unaware that the body is unable to keep up. A dislocated shoulder, a torn ligament, or a sprained calf muscle ensues and we’re sidelined between 3 to 8 weeks during the peak of the active season of summer.
Prevention is key, of course. If we can train our bodies to withstand the strain, we may stay injury free. But we all have the experience that, inevitably, when we push ourselves, we’re in for it!
When injuries happen, if applicable, apply the P.I.E.R. principle. Click here for a good description of the P.I.E.R. principle and the expected stages of healing.
There are many medical disciplines and modalities said to be helpful in the healing of injured tissues. Chiropractic, massage therapy, physiotherapy, ART (Active-Release-Technique), athletic therapy, and Acupuncture are the main ones.
Acupuncture, the insertion of hair-thin needles into specific points on the body can yield amazing results. In the hands of a licensed practitioner, acupuncture is a powerful tool to get you back to your physical activities quickly.
How does it work?
It depends who you ask.
From a western, mechanical standpoint, injuries to joints often cause strain and inflammation to the surrounding soft tissues. The muscles involved react by going into spasm. The motor nerve innervating the belly of the affected muscle group is left in the ‘on’ position causing this spasm and pain in the surrounding area. This is referred to as the ‘trigger point’. This response is to protect the injured joint, however, with rest and the appropriate external support, the body doesn’t need that level of protection, and can do without the pain.
The acupuncture needle, inserted correctly, will enter the trigger point, interrupting the transmission of the signal, effectively shutting off the spasm. When this is done in multiple trigger points around the injury, the pain/swelling cycle is interrupted and healing is accelerated.
From a TCM perspective, the pain of injury is due to blockage of Qi and/ or Blood, depending on the severity. Carefully placed needles at ‘A-Shi’ (translated literally as “ouch-yes”) points along the Channels surrounding the injury will dredge the blockage from the area, reducing the pain and swelling. Often points are chosen further along the affected channels to further facilitate this process.
Other healing modalities are helpful, but if you’re not adding acupuncture to the regimen, you’re not maximizing the body’s ability to heal quickly.
So heal up with acupuncture and get back out there having fun!!!