Pain, stress or limited motion keeps you from achieving optimal results and benefits from your sport. Pain and muscular tension interfere with your mobility on the tennis court or the swing of your golf club, reducing your performance, endurance and enjoyment.

Do you wake up the day after golfing, biking or playing tennis with stiffness, soreness, a strain or pain in your hips and back?

Acupuncture and herbal medicine have been shown to alleviate these symptoms. Both therapies have been used for centuries to reduce swelling, improve range of motion, strengthen the body, speed recovery, and address underlying issues that can contribute to future injuries. Although many people believe that age-related degradation in performance levels is inevitable, Chinese medicine offers many techniques to enhance performance and slow the aging process.

Acupuncture can also reduce or eliminate muscle tension in your back, neck and shoulders. By maintaining healthy blood circulation and body flexibility, you can prevent injuries and keep your body in good condition. In some cases acupuncture can reduce pain immediately, and patients often notice a difference after the first treatment. The martial arts tradition from the same cultural heritage as acupuncture also leaves us a rich compendium of “secret formulas” that range from aids for performance to liniments for pain, bruising, and headache. Factors including level of tightness or stiffness, and the length of time you have been suffering, are considered to developing your acupuncture treatment program.

Recently, a Johns Hopkins study found that people with chronic tendonitis or arthritis who had acupuncture sessions twice a week for 6 weeks had less pain and disability than a control group who only thought they were receiving acupuncture (the needles didn’t penetrate the skin). Additionally, a 2008 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that participants who were acupunctured for muscle soreness 24 and 48 hours after they exercised to exhaustion reported significantly less pain than people who didn’t receive the treatment.

A large part of the philosophy of Chinese medicine is based on not only curing disease, but preventing it. The ideal goal of Chinese doctors was to keep people healthy, active and vital; to promote longevity and to ensure healthy appetites and lifestyle. According to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, researchers found the use of acupuncture in resistance and endurance sports activities tended to increase muscular strength and power. Acupuncture also seemed to improve the haemodynamic parameters of endurance athletes.

Put all this together with proper exercise and imagine yourself stronger, looser, more flexible and pain free. Also remember to treat an injury as soon as possible, and continue treatment to full recovery, in whatever treatment modality you choose. Your serve should be faster and your drives longer. For the sports enthusiast these therapies should be a part of your sports oriented physical maintenance routine. Then watch your fun quotient go up and your score go down.

Diane Sheppard is a licensed acupuncturist with a Ph.D. in Oriental Medicine. Dr. Sheppard trained in both China and the U.S and is now a staff practitioner at Eisenhower Wellness Institute. She can be reached at AcQPoint Wellness Center in La Quinta. 760-775-7900

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