You wouldn’t know it to look outside (the picture to the right is from last year), but spring is finally here—well, technically at least. And after Vancouver’s unusually long cold snap, many are anxious to shake off the dark dreariness of winter. If you’re feeling a little funky trying to gear up for the warmer months ahead, now is the perfect time to consider getting some springtime acupuncture.
Here are some reasons why you need acupuncture this spring.
With the start of a new season, we also run the risk of getting sick. As the weather changes, it can take a while for our bodies to adjust. But for so many Vancouverites, the first sign of the springtime sun is like a long lost friend, tempting us to prematurely shed our scarves and gloves. If your body hasn’t had the chance to properly acclimatize, you could wind up getting sick. Getting some preemptive acupuncture will help boost your immunity and prepare you for the seasonal change.
Ahhhh…spring! Blossoming flowers, budding trees, sprouting grass—what a wonderful time of year. That is, of course, if you aren’t one of the many that suffer from seasonal allergies. For allergy sufferers, springtime means itchy watery eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, congestion, and headaches. Don’t let allergies keep you indoors this year. Acupuncture has been shown to treat allergic reactions. Just make sure to get treatment early, before springtime pollen has a chance to send your immune system into overdrive. You might also ask me about biopuncture allergy treatment.
Spring is all about change. And while many of us welcome it, the change in season does come with its own set of stress-inducing challenges. Final exams, adjusting to the time change, and taking on more work to prepare for summer vacation are all things that can send our stress levels through the roof, thus opening the door to a wide range of symptoms, including muscle pain, digestive issues, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, and hormonal swings. Treating yourself to some calming acupuncture will help you control your stress before it controls you.
Deal with Sports Injuries
Cycling, running, softball, and hiking— spring is a great time to get active again and enjoy the great outdoors. Unfortunately, after a long winter of inactivity, it’s also the time of year when sports-related injuries start popping up. If you are looking to prevent injuries (or treat them when they do), acupuncture will help keep you active all season long.
Yes, you need acupuncture this spring
Now that spring has finally sprung, there’s no time like the present to get some acupuncture. You’ll be better equipped to meet the challenges of seasonal change head on and enjoy everything this marvellous time of year has to offer.
I’ve been doing a fair amount of acupuncture for sprains and strains lately, so I thought I’d share why you want to make acupuncture one of your first choices for treatments if you are unlucky enough to injure yourself.
I’ve sprained my right ankle twice. The first time, I was playing intramural volleyball in high school. I jumped up to block a ball, and when I landed, someone’s foot was on my side of the net, so I crash landed when I came down on it. It was a bad sprain. I still remember how it felt when the doctor stuck his finger into the tennis ball-sized swelling that I had once called an ankle. The image here is kind of what my ankle looked like, though my legs were somewhat less hairy. 🙂
I had a number of physio sessions–icing, taping, ultrasound, and exercises. I was on my school’s volleyball team so after a week or so of rest, I continued to play with my ankle tightly wrapped. Once healed, my ankle was not the same. I turned it constantly. The stretched ligaments were no longer as supportive as they should have been.
The second time I sprained my ankle, I was in TCM school. I was simply running across the street when my ankle did its then common floppy roll. Boom. On the ground and writhing in pain. This time I had TCM on my side. I received acupuncture and Chinese herbs, and I did my own version of stabilizing exercises. I was told by the medical doctor that my ankle would be worse, even more prone to sprains and strains, as those lazy ligaments would have even more laxity. They don’t. My right ankle is now just like my left–uninjured and strong–ankle. This is just one of the reasons I recommend acupuncture for sprains and other injuries.
Acupuncture for Sprains and Injuries
Acupuncture can help improve local blood flow to an injured area. That helps bring in healing nutrients and remove waste products from damaged tissue. Acupuncture can also relieve pain, allowing you to be able to sleep well, instead of struggling to get comfortable at night, for faster recovery. Acupuncture supports stress management. One of the ways it does so is by causing a release of feel-good hormones like endorphins. If you are less stressed, your body can be in a healing state instead of a defensive state.
If you’re worried about needles, don’t. If your injured part is too sensitive for me to treat directly, I can treat around it. And, acupuncture is not painful. Acupuncture needles are skiiiiinnnnny. Super skinny. That makes it easy for me to treat you comfortably.
So, if you are injured, don’t hesitate. Come in for acupuncture for sprains, strains, tears, inflammation, bruising, fractures (after proper xray, bone setting, and other medical emergency treatment, of course), or other injury so you can heal faster and better than with time alone.
If you are planning on participating in any of the many athletic events of spring or summer–from Tough Mudder to BMO Marathon, SunRun to GranFondo, or beach volleyball tournies to Grouse Grind Challenge–you are probably in training now, or at least thinking about it. Nothing will stop your plans faster than an injury. You may be making your best times one minute and having to stop to heal up an injury the next. While you’re pushing your limits, consider that your body may need a little extra TLC. Read on about things you can do to prevent injuries: Mitigate Vancouver Training Injuries Or skip that and just come in for acupuncture 😉
I didn’t participate, but I applaud those that did the Vancouver Sun Run this past weekend. It took dedication and training to be able to get out there and enjoy it. Some, unfortunately, are now injured and sore. Some had to skip the event due to injuries acquired leading up to the big day. Some injuries are unavoidable and fluke. Others could have been predicted—overtraining or undertraining or improper preparation.
I don’t like to run. I will run, if I have to—like if I’m late for yoga class or running away from doing chores. Growing up, I chose figure skating, volleyball, dance, and diving; not soccer, basketball, or track and field. But, though the specifics of training regimens changes based on the sport or activity, there are some basics that can be followed for any activity.
1. Pick a training routine that you can do
I usually make at least one mistake in pushing myself too hard when I start a new activity. My head says yes; my body says no. I nearly threw up during my first Crossfit-like class (they tell me that’s normal, but don’t believe them that it’s okay…it’s not ok to vomit when you’re exercising). I banged up my knee and sprained my finger trying to compete with the best Grouse Grind climb time of a 20-something fitness trainer I know. I even strained my hamstrings doing 40 straight days of Vinyasa power yoga when I was brand new to yoga.
So, do as I say, not as I have done—I’m getting smarter about this, I swear I am.
Build gradually when you start a new activity. It’s fine—and admirable—for couch potatoes to pursue a goal of doing a marathon, but the process needs to be paced.
2. Get the basics
Though some high level athletes do advertise for junk food companies, athletes know that getting the right nutrition is key to a good performance. It should come as no surprise that whole foods and lots of veggies are good, while synthetic ingredients and processed foods are not.
Get your zzzzzzs. Sleep-time is when your body does much of its healing and repair. Sometimes pain and injury can interfere with a restful sleep. If that’s the case, then make sure that your healthcare provider addresses that. An easily absorbed magnesium supplement may help relax your muscles enough to relieve some tension and help you drift off. To find out how Melissa officinalis and other herbs can help with sleep, check out my blog here, “Melissa Helps You Sleep.”
3. Treat and prevent
Don’t wait until your pain becomes chronic before you get treatment. Acupuncture, biopuncture, Chinese herbs, and supplements can help speed your healing time by decreasing inflammation, relieving muscle spasms and tightness, and improving local circulation.
Even better, try preventing injuries by planning ahead. In addition to proper training, support your healthiest self so that you can more quickly recover, even if you do overdo it. Tomorrow my article on acupuncture pre- and post- event comes out in 24 Hours Vancouver, so pick up your copy, look for it online, or wait for me to post it as my next blog.
Now, get up and get active!
I was watching the London Olympics men’s gymnastics qualifications today and China and Japan were expected to skip easily through this part of the competition. There were two things that have seemed to have shifted the tides. One was attitude and one was injury. Acupuncture has been shown to be helpful for treating mood and focus, but certainly has far more research to support its role in treating injury.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture can help speed the healing of damaged tissues, improve range of motion and function of movement, and control pain. Many top athletes receive acupuncture either as part of their regular wellness routine or to help a faster recovery from injuries. This includes China’s 7 foot 6 inch basketball player Yao Ming. He used acupuncture to get back onto the court after an ankle injury in 2007. Chinese swimmer, Wang Qun, used cupping, a TCM treatment that suctions glass cups on the back to relieve muscle pain, improve blood flow, and relax tight muscles. Other athletes that have used acupuncture and TCM include Dwayne Wade, Matt Hasselback, Grant Hill, Maria Sharapova, and Jaromir Jagr.
TCM treats not just the injury, but also the underlying issues that can predispose a person to injuries. Part of my role is to determine if repetitive movements, overuse, problems with posture, or improper movements are the cause and if I can guide how to avoid re-injury.
If you have an injury or are suffering pain, take a cue from the athletes who use acupuncture to achieve their peak performance.
Vancouver 2010 -- me doing acupuncture on mascot Sumi
The 2012 Olympics start today. Very exciting as we get to watch men and women perform amazing feats that they’ve trained so hard to accomplish. As I watch the opening ceremonies, I remember the feeling of participating in and of cheering for our athletes at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.
Some of the athletes–and mascots :)– are helped by acupuncture. A study at the Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine showed that athletes who had acupuncture after running 5000m recovered more quickly than those who were not treated.
“Research has reported that properly prescribed acupuncture can decrease heart rate and increase stroke volume leading to a more efﬁcient cardiac output. ”
Another study showed that those receiving acupuncture were able to lift more weight and exercise longer. They also had lower heartrates and were able to accelerate faster.
You may not be striving to be in the Olympics, but wouldn’t you like to be able to perform better in your everyday life? Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can help with that!