Acupuncture & Sports Injuries

Acupuncture & Sports Injuries

With skiing and snowboarding season approaching, sports injuries start popping up everywhere. This article will cover the most common snow sport injuries and how acupuncture can help the body recover from injury faster to get you back on the slopes as soon as possible!

Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Tear:

Knee injuries and skiing or snowboarding unfortunately go hand-in-hand. The MCL is usually damaged when there is a hard hit on the lateral side of the knee which then tears the medial side on the knee. The MCL stabilizes the shin (tibia) and thigh (femur) bones and when it is injured, it is easy for the knee to overextend causing more pain and problems.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tear:

The ACL also stabilizes the knee. It is easily injured when athletes make sudden twists and turns. To avoid this, skiers and snowboarders are safest keeping their knees bent when landing jumps or when falling. It is also important not to try getting up while they are still moving down the slope.

Wrist Fractures:

When falling in the snow, it is a common reaction to try to catch your fall and brace yourself with your hand. This can lead to fracturing the wrist on impact of the fall. A scaphoid fracture is most common when falling with an outstretched hand and will result in pain at the base of the thumb. The radius can also break with the hand outstretched and is called a Colles Fracture. A Smith Fracture is when the hand is bent inward (wrist flexed) when falling on it. This also involved the radius bone. Occasionally the smaller bone in the forearm (the ulna) can break also.

Shoulder Injuries:

Glenohumeral dislocations, clavicle fractures and acromioclavicular separations and rotator cuff strains all occur while flying down our Colorado mountains on skis and snowboards. These most commonly happen with the use of poles and in aerial stunts when falling. Here are some shoulder injury statistics from the British Journal of Sports Medicine Volume 43, Issue 13; “Shoulder injuries account for 4 to 11% of all alpine skiing injuries and 22 to 41% of upper-extremity injuries. During snowboarding, shoulder injuries account for 8 to 16% of all injuries and 20 to 34% of upper-extremity injuries.”

Head and Spinal Injuries:

According to the Injury Prevention Articles by BMJ publishing, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal cord injury (SCI) are on the rise due to alpine skiing and snowboarding accidents. Helmets are able to decrease the rate of head injury by 22-60%, so definitely hit the slopes with your head protection buckled on.

Healing from Injury: It is very important to take care of these injury right away. When the injury first occurs there is usually a lot of swelling bringing white blood cells and fluid into the area to begin the healing process. Acupuncture and other modalities offered at Lakewood Community Acupuncture clinic can speed this healing and recovery process up.

How Acupuncture Helps

Acupuncture studies show that acupuncture can significantly reduce the time it takes muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones to heal. Acupuncture works directly with calming down pain receptors response to pain and can even be used instead of anesthesia for surgeries. When there is an injury, this also blocks or stagnants the meridians in the body which circulate our vital life force called Qi. Acupuncture unblocks meridians and channels to alleviate pain and get Qi and blood circulating properly again. Acupuncture can be used to break up scar tissue from old injuries or reduce swelling and inflammation of new injuries.

Other modalities offered at Lakewood Community Acupuncture are also very useful in the recovery from injury. Electro-acupuncture, cupping, guasha, Tuina bodywork and herbal medicine (topical and internal) are able to increase blood flow and circulation to the area of injury, therefore helping it heal faster without the negative side effects of pain medications. 

Summary:

Acupuncture and other chinese medicine modalities are crucial in the fast and efficient recovery from ski and snowboard injuries. The long term benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Sport Injuries, outweigh the short-term effects of Western medicine pain killers and other drug interventions. Many times, surgery can be avoided when receiving acupuncture from old or new injuries. The quicker you come into the clinic after an injury, the quicker results are usually seen but even those stubborn old injuries from sliding down the snowy slopes can be treated. Enjoy our beautiful Colorado mountains this winter.


References:

British Journal of Sports Injury: https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/43/13/987

Injury Prevent by BMJ: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2598302/