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The Olympics and Acupuncture!

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If you’re like me, you’ve been watching the athletes in London go for gold and wow us with their amazing speed, strength and grace. When I watch, though, I must admit that I take a special interest in the athletes’ training regimens, the way they treat an injury or favor a sprain…I’m interested in how they take care of their greatest athletic resource – their bodies.

In reading about this year’s Olympic athletes, I’ve found that many of them are using traditional Chinese medicine and, specifically, acupuncture to prepare, train and compete. Athletes from all over the world – the US, Japan, China, Australia, the UK and South Korea – are all employing TCM and acupuncture at the Games.

The Japanese triathlon team swears by it and an interesting article in The Examiner gives even more insight into their approach:

“If an athlete feels pain, we use acupuncture as first aid,” explains Minoru Yajima, medical advisor and physiotherapist for Japan’s Triathlon team. Most of Team Japan’s medal winning medical strategy is preventative and based on a time tested Japanese tradition – shiatsu massage.

USA’s own wonder vaulter McKayla Maroney has been using it to treat a broken toe, according to NPR:

Since that dismount [injury], Maroney has reduced her training to ice the injury and undergo electronic stimulation and acupuncture therapy, to speed healing.

Numerous track and field athletes have traveled to the Olympics with their acupuncturists, including US runner Dee Dee Trotter. US pole vaulter Jeremy Scott uses acupuncture in his treatment regimen for a knee injury and track and field competitor Amy Acuff is not only a five-time Olympian, but a licensed acupuncturist herself! She has attributed some of her long-term success in the strenuous, high injury sport to acupuncture.

Also, the South Korean athletes use it almost exclusively for pains, strains and muscle injuries. Athletes on their volleyball and handball teams use acupuncture to recover rapidly from injuries and the athletes have said that it helps boost their performance, as well.

Now, I know that we are not all Olympic athletes and we may not be making it to the next summer games in Rio de Janeiro (as competitors, anyway), but it is interesting to see the world’s elite sportsmen and women employing more and more traditional Chinese medicine treatments and acupuncture. If this trend continues, I expect that I will be working with an even greater number of local athletes, runners, cyclists and even just ‘weekend warriors’ in the years to come.

Long live (healthy) sport!



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