True or False? 1. Needles are sharp and pointy objects.
True or False? 2. All needles hurt.
Now that I have your attention, let’s have a crash course on how acupuncture helps your muscles recover.
Exercise–whether it be an outdoor jog, walk in the park, indoor cycling class, or an intense weight lifting session–puts stress on your muscles. They literally contract, get tight, and sometimes experience tiny micro tears. Remember the last time you had a good workout and felt sore the next day? That’s what I’m talking about! The fancy term for this is delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), more specifically, it’s lactic acid build up in your muscles. Muscle soreness is completely normal and healthy.
Before I move on and share some of the amazing benefits of acupuncture, I want to give you another example about when your muscles get stressed. It’s not what you may be thinking.
So, you know the cell phone you may be using right now? Or the computer you’re reading or typing on this very second? Or the car you drive every day? (This list could go on forever and ever…) Well, every single repetitive movement we integrate into our daily lives creates muscle imbalances. Think about it. Better yet, do it right now if it’s safe. Hold your phone and text someone. Now, type something on your computer keyboard. Now pretend you’re grabbing a steering wheel. Notice a common theme? Your arms are in front of you, your shoulders may be rounded forward, your back may be slouched, and your chin may be slightly down. These repetitive movements can cause your chest to get tight, neck tense up, and your lower back to ache. Pain, pain, and more pain…or discomfort and stress in your body. (sigh)
Now let’s talk about a few benefits of acupuncture as it relates to muscle recovery.
- Decreases lactic acid, heart rate max, and maximal oxygen intake (Lin, et. al., 2009)
- Decreases pain associated with arthritis and chronic pain; more effective used in with other pain management modalities (Chou, 2018 )
- Can decrease myofascial pain and muscle irritability (Wang, 2017)
In less researchy language,
- Decreases muscle soreness and makes you more efficient using oxygen during exercise
- Helps you move better with a little less pain; more effective with things like stretching, foam rolling, chiropractic care, cupping, rest, etc…
- Ease DOMS and achy muscles
What else can acupuncture treat? A question with a shorter list of answers is what does it NOT treat. 😉 Check out this comprehensive list of what acupuncture CAN treat for you.
I regularly go to a community acupuncture clinic locally in Sacramento. It’s called the Sacramento Acupuncture Project. SAP is a part of a larger collective of acupuncture clinics called People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture. One of the best things POCA clinics offer is a SLIDING scale for its patients. Can we say, “cha-ching!”
This makes a highly valuable service such as acupuncture way more affordable to most people. If you haven’t tried acupuncture before, I highly encourage you to give it a go. Get over your fears and walk through the door. Voice your initial concerns and questions to your acupuncturist. The staff will definitely take good care of you. Tell them Candice sent you. 😉