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The Summer 2012 Olympics have brought acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) into the spotlight as world-famous athletes display their acupuncture routines to the world. And it’s not just China and Japan that have sent their athletes to the Olympics with personal acupuncturists. The United States, Australia, and South Korea are also encouraging acupuncturist treatments for their athletes in London this year. If you’ve been following the Olympics, you’ve no doubt run into mention of acupuncture and its role in an athlete’s performance:

6 Olympic Athletes Aching for Acupuncture

Acupuncture and Sports Science Give Team Japan an Edge

Chattanooga Acupuncturist Traveling with Olympian

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If you’ve never been exposed to traditional Chinese medicine before, you may not be aware of what acupuncture is, or the amazing benefits it can offer. Acupuncture has been in use for over 2,000 years. It follows the Chinese medicine belief that no issue in the body is isolated. Everything is connected, whether it’s a connection between various body parts and organs or between the mind, body, and spirit, a person’s wellbeing is always considered as a total picture and not one segment.

이러한 믿음의 뿌리는 각 사람, 각 생물은 제나라 - 생명 에너지를 가지고 있다는 것입니다. 치은 피부에 수백 점에 관련된 경락라고도 에너지 스트림의 신체를 통해 흐른다. 막힘이 경락에 존재 제나라의 흐름이 차단되면 건강이 손상되어 통증이나 질병이 발생할 수 있습니다. 침술은 초박형의 전략적 배치 (머리의 폭을 생각한다) 손에 문제의 경락에 해당하는 경혈에 바늘입니다. 목표는 제나라의 건강한 흐름을 갱신하고 균형을 몸을 복원하는 것입니다.

Sports acupuncture has a focus on orthopedics, and this is the form of Chinese medicine that the Olympic athletes are employing. Over 2,000 sports acupuncture points on the human body connect with 14 major pathways (meridians). Sports acupuncture helps to keep the normal flow of this energy unblocked. Sports acupuncture can help athletes overcome muscle contusions and tendinitis, as well as over-use injuries involving the lower back, shoulder, knee and ankle, all examples of common sports injury areas. These injuries typically require two sports acupuncture treatments a week, with a varied recovery time depending on the injury.

In Chinese medicine, there are believed to be five elements that compose the material world: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. These elements are constantly moving and changing, and they have complex connections between material objects, including the human body. The five elements are believed to be aspects of qi, and individuals can have an abundance of one element over another in their composition.

If a patient has a strong energy of the wood element, they have a clear vision for their future and know how to bring it to fruition. When their wood qi is weak or imbalanced, they may have trouble making decisions, be emotionally constrained, or unable to express anger or other strong feelings. These people have a tendency to be workaholics, and are prone to digestive problems.

Patients with a strong fire qi are charismatic and are wonderful at socializing and inspiring others. When fire qi is weakened, a person may have low energy or become restless. They can be prone to insomnia and anxiety, and are especially sensitive to the effects of hot weather.

Someone with strong earth energy is compassionate, caring, and grounded. Earth energy types love to bring people together and are often the peacemakers of their circle of friends. When the earth energy is weak in someone, the person is prone to weight gain and digestive disorders.

When the metal element is strong in someone, the person is efficient and well-organized. These people are disciplined and enjoy structure. When the metal qi is weak, it can make someone become overly critical, depressed, or have trouble letting go of situations. When the metal qi is imbalanced, patients can be prone to skin and lung disorders.

People with an abundance of water qi are strong-willed, resilient, and know how to persevere. When out of balance, weak water qi can lead to fertility and urination issues, and emotional imbalances like anxiety. 

In addition to the concept of these five elements, there is a form of acupuncture called Five Element Theory, which is used to interpret the relationship between the physiology and pathology of the body and its environment. Five Element Theory is one of the major components of Chinese medicine and is often used to help diagnosis patients and explain the root of imbalances.

Check out another of our articles on sports acupuncture 여기, featuring our alumnus, Matt Callison, LAc, who has a successful orthopedic acupuncture practice and started the AcuSport Seminar Series. Check out our interview with another PCOM alumnus, Greg Bantick, LAc, as he treats current Olympic athletes.