Sports Medicine: the Treatment of Repetitive Injury and Strain
By Lynn Van
Airsdale, M.A.O.M., L.Ac., Cert. Herbalist
encompassing acupuncture and Chinese Herbology, perceives pain as an
of the body's Qi flow. This can result in decreased
circulation and an
impaired healing process of bones, tendons, muscles and soft tissue.
Chinese Herbology, and other adjuncts facilitate and improve joint and
recovery after trauma or repetitive strain. This is done by
circulation and Qi flow, which improves the body's ability to adapt to
and future strain or injury. TCM
can be used alone or in combination with other modalities such as
massage therapy, physical therapy, and yoga.
science has helped us to
see the microscopic aspects and biomolecular impacts of acupuncture
“Literature Review’) and Chinese Herbology, and the Eastern view helps
understand the story, or rather the etiology, the causation of a
regards to physical
strain and injury TCM terms this realm “Traumatology”.
This is a perfect word because it sets a stage
how an injury occurred and the successive complications thereafter.
There are three main etiologies for injury and
pain: 1) Qi and blood
stagnation, 2) malnutrition, and 3) imbalance of Yin and Yang.
These are general headings; each can contain
other imbalances and or
pathological consequences. We
and blood stagnation can occur
from an initial trauma or injury.
the injury or strain goes untreated then the stagnation of Qi and blood
lead to chronic pain issues and malnutrition of the injured area.
The vulnerability of this area from chronic
stagnation and malnutrition
can lead to easy recurrent injury of the bones, tissues, tendons, and
occurs from decreased
blood flow to an area, which is often due to initial Qi and blood
(injury or trauma). We
can look at
this as decreased nutrient and oxygen flow that is vital in proper
Malnutrition can also occur from an imbalance
in Yin and Yang.
If there is pain with no initial injury, then
it may be due to an
underlying deficiency or imbalance from improper nutrition, overwork,
Yang, Qi and blood
are the theoretical foundations of TCM.
chronic imbalance between them results in disease and an inability for
to heal in a sufficient manner.
and Yang are separate but
inseperable entities that perform continuous back and forth homeostasis.
The health of the body depends upon a balance
of Yin and Yang, which
depends upon the prevalence and smooth flow of Qi and blood.
The body’s ability to recover and adapt
depends upon its relative
abundance of self-healing potential.
body and mind have great strength to take care of themselves, however,
can wear down our reserve power. Often
the body needs external support such as the use of modalities that will
inflammation, move blood, and enhance the ability to adapt to stress
Modalities within TCM include acupuncture,
Herbology, cupping, gua sha, and shiatsu or tuina.
is, by definition, the
use of fine needles placed at specific points along meridians with the
encourage Qi and blood movement and distribution.
Meridians, also known as channels, are
pathways that traverse
the body and provide a highway system for Qi and blood flow.
Meridians assist communication between the
external and internal body.
We can compare the pathways of the nerves,
blood vessels, and lymphatic
system to the pathway of the meridians; all have a tendency to run
each other. The
difference is that
merdians cannot be dissected. I
like to consider meridians as electromagnetic pathways that influence
movement of the other systems: nervous, cardiovascular, and lymph.
can be understood in a
physiological way. TCM
as the body’s vital energy. Qi
can be considered to be one’s chemistry in motion, circulating via the
meridians and influencing the movement of blood.
Qi flow can be easily impeded and the goal of
TCM is to return proper Qi
and blood movement. Acupuncture,
clinical research is continuing to investigate, has specific effects on
body’s physiological processes, of which can go beyond mending injuries
(moxa) is a form of
external herbal therapy that is used as a heating element.
It is often applied directly or indirectly to
the acupuncture needles or
the skin. Moxa is
of Artemisia vulgaris with
the common name of mugwort. Moxa
increases blood flow, which allows for easier blood and
nutrient movment towards and away from an area.
It is very useful for chronic stagnation and
well as trauma with bruising or swelling.
are other external herbs
that are often used as soaks or linaments with the intention of
inflammation and increasing blood flow and healing.
Internal Chinese herbal therapy can be used
with the same
purposes, with the addition of supporting one’s constitution and their
body’s adaptation reserve. Internal
herbal therapy consists of dietary/food supplementation or changes,
bulk, tea, and patents/pills. It
always important to keep in mind the breadth of use of Chinese herbs,
as anti-inflammatories, anti-microbials, analgesics (pain relievers),
adaptogenics (increases the body’s adaptation power under prolonged or
acupuncture and Chinese
herbal therapy work effectively in musculoskeletal recovery and
are a few other avenues of direct muscle tissue manipulation.
Cupping, gua sha, and tuina all help break up
stagnation and increase
blood flow through loosening muscle and fascia.
Cupping involves the use of applying a round
glass cup that has the air
sucked out to the body. The
vacuum created raises the skin and superficial muscle
layer into the cup. Gua
involves the use of a ceramic spoon edge that is scraped in repeated
with pressure over a lubricated area of the body.
Tuina is considered a form of “Chinese
manipulative” therapy, and
looks much like deep tissue or trigger point massage body work.
One note on Shiatsu; it is often linked with
Tuina, however, Shiatsu is a
form of Japanese acupressure therapy and focuses on the diagnosis and
of the meridians, not limited to local areas of the body.
approaches injury and
repetitive strain within the department of Traumatology.
Several aspects are considered when diagnosing
an area that has
experienced trauma or chronic pain and stagnation, of which include Qi
stagntion, malnutrition, and relative Yin and Yang imbalance.
It is important to keep in mind the body’s own
ability to heal itself,
however, there are times when its reserve power is compromised and
outside assistance. Assistance
be in the form of the following: acupuncture, moxibustion, Chinese
therapy, cupping, gua sha, tuina, and shiatsu.
The beauty is that one or all can be utilized
within the course of
treatment, and profound healing and recovery can occur even in the
chronic, severe, cases.