Top 5 Ways Acupuncture Can Benefit Runners
Whether you’re running on the treadmill at the gym to get your cardio in, training for a marathon, or just enjoy jogging around the neighborhood, running can take a toll on the body. Runners may struggle with knee or hip pain, plantar fasciitis, fatigue, and inflammation. Fortunately, acupuncture can help!
1. The repetitive stress of running takes a toll on the lines of fascia, the connective tissue that links cells together. Runners often struggle with kinetic chain imbalances. They often hold excess tension in both the back and lateral fascial lines, including the Achilles, hamstrings, calves, paraspinals, tensor fascia latae, peroneals, and iliotibial band. This tension makes runners more prone to injury along the weakest points of these lines. However,, the site of pain typically isn’t where the problem actually originates, t rather the source of the problem is usually above or below the site of pain.
Acupuncture works to release trigger points and adhesions along the meridians, kinetic chains, or fascial trains. This corrects the imbalances that are causing pain and injuries. What’s more, you may feel noticeable relief in as little as one acupuncture session.
2. Many runners struggles with inactive lateral glute muscles, which are responsible for providing pelvic stability as you move forward. When your lateral glute muscles don't engage, your femur rotates inward and your hip collapse. Over time, this excessive motion increases instability in the ankles, knees, and feet and can lead to injury. Runners are especially prone to this because they often overlook the smaller muscles responsible for pelvic stabilization, focusing more on the muscles that drive them forward - i.e., the quads and calves.
Acupuncture can help activate the glute muscles, restoring the connection between brain and glute, thus enabling you to better maintain the hip stability necessary to avoid injury and pain.
3. Runners often increase training loads too quickly, which can cause tendon dysfunction and injury. Connective tissues like tendons adapt at a much slower rate than muscles as they have a relatively poor blood supply. When tendons are overloaded by running too much with poor biomechanics, the collagen fibers that they are comprised of stick together, and scar tissue forms.
Acupuncture increases blood circulation and supply to areas that are otherwise limited. Acupuncture also releases excess tension in the muscles and fascia, reducing stress to the overworked areas.
4. There is such a thing as running too much; overtraining can deplete the immune system, cause fatigue, negatively impact sleep quality, impair concentration, and impair the body's ability to recover from workouts. In the case of severe and prolonged overtraining or overexertion, there can be lasting effects, including chronically elevated heart rate, depression, insomnia, and chronic fatigue. In these cases, the nervous system is essentially stuck in sympathetic overdrive, fight or flight, which can make it difficult to sleep, relax, or recover properly.
Train hard, rest harder. Acupuncture is one of the most effective ways to facilitate this, as it activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for allowing you to rest, digest, heal, and sleep properly. By stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, acupuncture can help runners body recover from intense training.
5. Many overuse injuries are the result of localized pockets of inflammation, which can in turn cause pain and impair functioning. Acute inflammation actually helps the body heal as it increases blood flow. However, persistent inflammation can wreak havoc on the body. The combination of overtraining, stress, improper biomechanics, and/or poor diet can inhibit the body’s ability to heal and recover.
Acupuncture is effective for these types of injuries because the tiny hair-thin needles can reach pockets of inflammation with great precision. Acupuncture can resolve persistent inflammation, supporting your body’s natural healing abilities and restoring strength, mobility, and function to the injured tissues. In addition to acute inflammation, acupuncture has an overall
anti-inflammatory effect on the entire body.
If you are a frequent runner, cupping therapy may also be beneficial to you, as it helps break up fascia and relax tight muscles. Contact us to schedule an acupuncture and/or cupping appointment at our Maitland, Florida office!
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