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In my private practice I have seen amazing results with acupuncture. Of course, I am not the most objective of observers, but I do feel acupuncture should be the first line of defense for many sports related injuries.

For example, a triathlete I treat regularly suffers from stiff shoulders, which have kept her from training for the past year. The stiffness is a side effect of her asthma and exercise choice which centers on swimming and running. As a city dweller, she can only cycle occasionally. Over the years the pain became progressively worse until she could no longer race. I alleviated her pain by treating her shoulders and stimulating the lung meridian. It was important that she breathe properly and release the tension in her shoulders, allowing her to train with less pain. In this case, the problem will never go away entirely; however, she now looks forward to a full season of racing.

In my practice, I have found if a patient seeks treatment soon after the muscular injury, the treatment can be short term. For example, I had a thirty six year old patient with back pain for the previous two months. Prior to meeting me, she tried both massage and Chiropractic care, neither worked. After an assessment, I felt two to three treatments would heal her pain. She practiced Yoga and her excellent flexibility, combined with the acupuncture, created a positive prognosis. Her pain was healed in two treatments through a combined approach of targeting her painful areas and releasing the tendon and muscular pathways which were blocked In general, a pain with a quick onset will have a quick resolution.

Chinese medicine seeks a balance of Yin and Yang. The mistake many triathletes make is to focus entirely on building physical strength and not allowing enough time for rest. To use acupuncture terminology, training is very Yang. If one does not balance the hard nature of running, swimming and cycling with something softer such as Yoga, stretching and Tai Chi, an injury is likely to result. I don't mean "Power Yoga" or "Qi power" workouts. I mean a truly passive exercise focusing on balance and flexibility that will help preserve the knees and back. Set your mark to be competing in the 80+ age group at Ironman Hawaii.

Next month, I will explore how to use Chinese herbs to nourish the body. The best thing to remember is the old adage "It is not the workout that makes you stronger, but the rest after a workout."

Jon Simon is an acupuncturist, who has two offices in Manhattan, was recently listed as a "best of" at citysearch.com. He has worked with athletic and soft tissue damage extensively over the past four years. Herbally, Jon works with a wide variety of patients from infertility and Crohns disease to IBS. Questions can be sent to jsimon@nycpoints.com.


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