By Alex Eriksson, guest contributor for transients.info
Acupuncture has been used for hundreds of years to treat a wide variety of ailments. This type of traditional Chinese medicine has been used as early as around 100 BC.
It is similar to acupressure in that the treatment requires putting pressure on certain points in the body. The only difference is that in acupuncture, needles are actually inserted into the skin.
Recent studies show that acupuncture is beneficial for fitness and overall physical health. Here are some of its benefits.
Muscle Relaxation and Tension Release
Sore today, strong tomorrow – this is the slogan being advocated by many gyms. You tend to feel some soreness after a good workout. Physical activity through cardio exercises and resistance training put strain on your muscle, hence the soreness. Even routine physical activities like walking to work, using the stairs, typing on your computer, or even slouching can lead to restricted motion and muscle discomfort.
When these things happen, microscopic scar tissues are formed in muscles and joints which can make movements painful and restricted. Acupuncture can be used to relief tension in your ligaments, muscles, and the surrounding tissues.
It can also boost your blood circulation, relax your muscles, and increase the amount of the hormone endorphins which can help reduce pain. This results in improved motion range and performance.
Studies show that acupuncture works to relieve myofascial pain in such a way that it can be used to complement or replace decompression splints. Myofascial pain refers to the pain felt in the connective tissues that cover the muscles. These tissues are found in several muscle groups all over the body including the back area, the neck, the arms.
Some studies also show that acupuncture helps relieve pain caused by tension headaches. This kind of headaches are believed to be caused by muscle contractions in the head and neck area.
Helps Prevent Muscle Atrophy
Whether you’re training to build muscle or in preparation for an upcoming marathon or any athletic competition, you’ll want to avoid muscle atrophy and catabolism. Losing muscle will result to reduced strength and performance.
Acupuncture can help prevent this because it has been shown to have potential in reversing the effects of decreasing levels of MRNA. MRNA is a group of molecules in the body that transfer information regarding protein synthesis. As a result, your body would be able to retain muscle mass in the event of injury or some period of inactivity.
Treatment of Joint Pains
People who engage in strenuous or repetitive movements using their shoulders sometimes experience joint issues like ‘frozen shoulder’. One of the symptoms associated with a frozen shoulder is the inability to lift the arm above the shoulder. This can be a hindrance for doing other physical activities you might enjoy like cycling, swimming, and rock climbing.
If not checked, a ‘frozen shoulder’ might get worse after some time. When medicines and physical therapy sessions are not enough to solve this issue, doctors will usually recommend the patient to undergo surgery. But some people would like to try another route because surgery can be costly, painful, and recovery will take a long time.
Acupuncture, when combined with a fitness training program, chiropractic treatment, and massage therapy has been proven to alleviate, if not totally eliminate, the painful symptoms of a ‘frozen shoulder’. In this particular acupuncture process, ultra-fine needles with a length of three to five centimeters are used to stimulate trigger points on the body.
Acupuncture helps by getting to the root cause of the injury and reduces local inflammation. Stimulating the proper trigger points resets the neural pathways which decreases pain. It also promotes tissue re-oxygenation which leads to regeneration of the damaged cells.
When the needle is inserted into particular locations, the body must act fast to quickly heal that small injury. This, in turn, stimulates the healing process of the tissues around the pricked area. Tissues healed include fascia, muscle, skin, nerves, and connective tissues. This healing process also increases the supply of oxygen through improved blood circulation.
Acupuncture does not only work on frozen shoulder. It works to reduce joint and myofascial pain in general.
Boosts Training Program Results
Acupuncture experts recommend people who undergo regular physical training to get acupuncture treatment right after each workout session as this will help enhance the body’s natural recovery and healing.
As a result, you will be able to push yourself harder each workout. And since you are working out much harder, you burn more calories and the more you can get out of each workout session.
Acupuncture also shows potential in performance enhancement. A study shows that even just one acupuncture session can improve isometric strength in the quadriceps. More studies have to be conducted but right now, what researchers know is that acupuncture may have potential not just in boosting muscle strength but also in rehabilitation programs.
Speeds Up Sports Injury Recovery
‘Tennis elbow’ for tennis players, strained hamstring for marathon athletes, and stiff rotator cuffs for swimmers are some of the more common sports injuries. Acupuncture has been proven to speed up recovery in these injuries. Getting regular acupuncture sessions during training will help ensure that the athlete will stay in his or her top form since recovery after a sports related injury is faster than without acupuncture.
Most doctors will say that a cold or hot pack, combined with relaxation and rest should be enough to recover from the most common sports injuries because the body will heal itself naturally. However, this healing process will take time. Acupuncture will make this healing process shorter by enhancing the body’s healing ability the natural way.
Enhances Psychological Well-being
When you feel good, it will show in your body, and vice versa. Acupuncture has shown benefits in relaxation of both the body and mind. There is actually a particular point in your body that is called the ‘happy point’. It’s located at the top of your head and is also known as GV-20. Most acupuncture practitioners will include this point on all their treatment sessions because it helps patients get that happy feeling which makes them more receptive to other stimulations. This can lead to faster treatment of whatever ailment they have.
GV-20 is not the only point in your body that can help you feel better about yourself.
There are other acupuncture points that enhance psychological well-being and reduce stress and anxiety by giving you that feeling of restoration and calm.
With all the benefits of acupuncture mentioned above, it’s no wonder why traditional form of medicine like this and the detox tea Kombucha has stood throughout history. It is now being combined with more modern treatment methods to enhance their effectiveness. Acupuncture has also been the go-to alternative treatment method for those people who don’t want to go ‘under the knife’ since it is non-invasive and there is virtually no recovery time after the session. There are still more to discover on traditional medicine and acupuncture is just the tip of the iceberg.
About the Author
Alex Eriksson is the founder of AnabolicHealth.com, a men’s health blog dedicated to providing honest and research backed advice for optimal male hormonal health. Anabolic Health aspires to become a trusted resource where men can come and learn how to fix their hormonal problems naturally, without pharmaceuticals. Check out his guide on 50 Foods For Men That Boost Testosterone or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.
Article photo by NVG (CC BY-NC 2.0)