A holistic approach to your personal best: Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and sports injuries
Athletes—even those who play purely for fun—usually work with some sort of coach, captain, or instructor, relying on their medical doctor when they have an injury. Western treatments for sports injuries often focus on using painkillers, ice, and physiotherapy to heal. While these methods are effective in some cases, adding a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner to your “team” can boost your performance, increase your overall health, and help you bounce back from injuries with a holistic approach.
What is TCM?
Traditional Chinese medicine is a 2,000 year-old practice designed to keep your body and mind in balance. Many techniques focus on promoting your body’s natural ability to heal itself by stimulating its responses to stress or injury.
Broadly speaking, TCM involves herbal medicines and treatments like acupuncture or cupping. It’s a holistic practice that takes into account the environment, internal or emotional well-being, and diet, and focuses on strengthening the body and increasing its capacity for healing.
Herbal medicine and diet
Even the most casual athlete knows that diet is an enormous part of physical health but determining what to eat goes beyond consulting the food pyramid. Physically active people have specific challenges and goals, and this is where TCM might come in. In traditional Chinese medicine, foods are classified into particular natures and flavours with specific uses and qualities. A TCM practitioner can bring this ancient knowledge to your modern diet, often with notable results. Herbal medicines are more frequently used for longer-term issues or chronic imbalances and go way beyond the vitamins and supplements recommended by Western medicine practitioners.
Acupuncture and cupping
In TCM, pain, inflammation, or injury is sometimes seen as a blockage, specifically of a person’s “qi”, or energy. With Chinese acupuncture, the therapist inserts thin needles into specific points in the body to stimulate qi, reduce pain, and restore balance. Cupping, an increasingly popular treatment among athletes, works within the same principles as acupuncture by releasing blockages or stagnation. The therapist applies heated glass cups to the skin which create suction that increases blood flow and helps with pain, inflammation, and muscle relaxation.
When it comes to sports injuries, there’s no reason to choose between Western practices and traditional Chinese medicine—each has its benefits and applications. Consult with our TCM practitioner, Min Qiao, to see how we can add to your training, support, and recovery routines.
If you’re looking to for a non-invasive and holistic way to relieve pain, you might try traditional Chinese medicine treatments.