Sports injuries affect more than 20 million Americans each year, and many of those injuries go untreated or leave residual pain that never fully goes away. For professional athletes, the risk of suffering an injury or feeling chronic pain is much greater than for the average person – and traditional treatment options aren’t always effective in treating symptoms and restoring health. Conventional treatments, in fact, often have long recovery times and fail to leave athletes feeling 100 percent. Through acupuncture, however, many sports stars have been able to bounce back from an injury and come off the bench feeling better than ever.
Dwyane Wade (NBA), Matt Hasselbeck (NFL), and former MLB pitcher Kris Benson have all turned to acupuncture as a natural treatment for injuries and chronic pain, often in conjunction with other modern medical treatments. It has helped athletes who might otherwise find themselves watching from the sidelines get back in the game more quickly; and it has helped others continue successful sports careers even after a debilitating injury.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an effective natural treatment for injuries such as:
- Sprains and strains
- Swollen muscles
- Knee injuries and pain
- Achilles tendonitis
- Tennis elbow
- Shin splints
It is an alternative therapy that involves inserting thin needles into strategic acupuncture points in the skin. According to traditional Chinese medicine, this helps regulate the body’s energy and restores balance. In modern medicine, acupuncture is said to ease pain by stimulating the nervous system and by releasing pain-relieving chemicals into the body.
Acupuncture for athletes
Acupuncture can drastically speed up recovery time and even improve performance, which is why so many athletes are increasingly turning to this natural treatment for pain and sports-related injuries. Professional basketballs players have always been supporters of acupuncture with stars turning to the treatment for sore muscles and strains. In the 90s, Charles Barkley saw an acupuncturist for a sore neck. Grant Hill famously visited an acupuncturist in Phoenix for sluggishness and even admitted to receiving treatments for allergies. Meanwhile, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade relied on acupuncture for pain relief caused by knee tendinitis.
Aside from reducing pain, acupuncture has also been shown to promote tissue regeneration, leading many athletes to turn to the treatment post-surgery. Former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher, Kris Benson, started acupuncture treatments after undergoing Tommy John surgery in order speed up recovery. He was able to get back on the mound within a year of his operation. Another famous baseball player, former homerun king Mark McGwire, also trusted acupuncture treatments during his time in the Majors in order to manage back pain induced by a bulging disk.
With big name athletes spreading the word about the success of acupuncture therapy, this natural treatment for pain is sure to continue gaining popularity with pro athletes and amateur sports players alike.
Photo source: Dwyane Wade by Keith Allison