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Acupuncture for Runners and Performance Sport Athletes

Posted in Acupuncture for Sports Performance

I’ve recently treated a number of competitive runners and endurance athletes with Acupuncture in the clinic and I’m seeing very similar patterns of disharmony. These athletes are physically very fit, but even without injury they have similar complaints of ‘tightness’ and ‘stiffness’ in their muscles, particularly along the posterior chain and quite often other issues like poor sleep or digestion.

Maintaining health and preventing illness or injury is all about balance! When you train hard you are embracing a very yang lifestyle. To balance all this yang activity, you must embrace your yin. It’s a little bit like running your engine at 100% without changing the oil and topping up the fuel. To optimise performance, your body must be strong and supple, adequately rested with reserves of energy that are fuelled by good nutrition. Achieving this balance will allow you to compete at your best, to recover quicker and to reduce the likelihood of injury.

Being ‘more yin’ does not mean you have to slow down; it just means you have to acknowledge the need to counterbalance your over-activity. Yang activities, like endurance sports, will get our bodies moving and exhaust our qi so try to balance this with something more yin that will allow your qi to rest and replenish. Traditionally in Chinese martial arts, the cultivation of ones’ yin was equally important to physical training and key to achieving success. You can try activities such as yoga or meditation or try to be mindful in your daily lifestyle for example take some time-out by walking in nature for pleasure rather than always running!

To optimise your sports performance, you need equally optimised yin. Good quality nutrition is essential. This concept of ‘nutrition’ is much wider than just the food you eat, it is also the water you drink, the air you breathe, the positive experiences you enjoy, the quality of your sleep and your mental health.

Some sports, such as running, mostly move in a linear fashion so you can get strong muscles that allow you move in one plane, but other planes of movement become weak. Improving suppleness across all dimensions of movement will build strength in all your supporting muscles and help reduce risk of injury.

It’s all a matter of balance; no flower will bloom in poorly nourished soil. If you are noticing your muscles are stiff and achy or you’re experiencing other symptoms that are hindering your performance, it’s a sign that something is out of balance. If your blood and qi is compromised, it isn’t able to nourish your muscles and they will become stiff or sore. Acupuncture and traditional chinese medicine can help get you back into balance and simple lifestyle adjustments can keep it that way so you can achieve your potential.

If you’re a performance athlete looking to improve your results, you should consider booking a local Acupuncture consultation to re-balance your body.

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