The Benefits of Sports Acupuncture
by Josh Zimmer, AP/DOM – Four Pillars Staff Acupuncturist
Back in July, while she was preparing for the World Triathlon Championships on Lake Geneva, Switzerland, Tina Goodman was struggling. A nagging groin injury threw into question her training in the crucial weeks before the event.
She was trying to build confidence, not worry.
Then Goodman, 64, remembered acupuncture. She’d tried the needles years ago for a painful foot neuroma and it had worked. After one session at Four Pillars, she once again found the relief she was looking for.
She suddenly could run again, as well as bike and swim without fear of injury. When the pain did return, she knew acupuncture could get her back on track. A half-dozen sessions later, Goodman was finishing 10th in her age group at the competition, 3rd among all American participants.
“When I injured my groin while running elevation on a treadmill to get ready for the hills in Switzerland, I thought of acupuncture as being the best treatment for me,” she said. “I felt immediate relief but then re-injured it running on sand in a triathlon. I had acupuncture again, which fixed the issue, and another before Switzerland. I was able to participate in the world’s triathlon and every picture of me has a big smile on my face because I was running without pain.”
Goodman isn’t alone. In the sports world, many professional athletes have embraced the pain relief and motion promotion acupuncture renders. Green Bay Packers star quarterback Aaron Rogers is one. The hall-of-fame-bound passing machine has touted his acupuncturists’ work on an injured hamstring and left calf.
“She’s really helped me a lot,” he told a busy press conference.
According to Packer News, other fans include current and former NFL players Michael Strahan, James Harrison, James Farrior and Marcus Stroud; baseball players A.J. Burnett and Randy Johnson; NBA players Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley; and professional golfers Fred Couples and Gary Player.
Professional athletes have access to the best care and their drive to success can generate a willingness to try different modalities. But any active person can tap into acupuncture’s ability to relax and stimulate healthy blood circulation to maintain one’s body and boost performance.
The kinds of injuries sustained while being physically active is endless, although in my experience shoulders, knees and ankles rank high among the most vulnerable. The twisting and weight bearing we ask of these joints is demanding.
Tina’s groin injury was different, although anyone who follows sports knows that it’s also very common.
First, let it be known that while the groin is a sensitive area, it is easily needled at shallow to moderate depth along a depression from the midline of the upper thigh laterally toward the hip. Experience also indicated that piriformis strain in the buttocks often transmits into the groin. Sure enough, palpation revealed significant tightness and pain across that highly engaged muscle, which connects the outer sacrum to the hip ball.
Ultimately, to make sure the groin pain wasn’t being aggravated or caused by a stressed piriformis we started by treating both before narrowing our focus to the groin.
Additional palpation revealed considerable thigh pain along the Iliotibial Band on the outside and the medial muscles on the inside. To promote peak pain relief and performance, later treatments includes acupuncture points in those areas, along with an important energizing point below the knee. The left groin was tight as well. Even though Tina wasn’t experiencing active pain, we performed similar acupuncture on that side for muscular balance.
This kind of hands-on, balanced approach applies to all patients, not just athletes. The results are usually very good.
Not everyone is a peak athlete like Goodman, whose training regimen would exhaust most people half her age – male and female. But there are countless others who play sports for fun and push their bodies more than the average couch potato. The calculus is the same:
Acupuncture can heal your injuries and return you from the sidelines to the playing field.
Josh Zimmer is a Nationally Certified, State Licensed Acupuncture Physician. He is a 2008 graduate of the East West College of Natural Medicine in Sarasota, FL. Josh is the acupuncturist at Four Pillars, providing natural healing for pain relief and digestive issues. He also treats symptoms of cancer, stroke and neuropathy. Four Pillars is located at 8209 Natures Way, Suite 221, Lakewood Ranch. For more information, call 941-373-3955, email Info@FourPillasFlorida.com or visit FourPillarsFlorida.com