You know Oriental medicine—it’s all hippies, healing crystals, and a medicine man your girlfriend told you about when she was reading Eat, Pray, Love. Hate to break it to you, but you’re a little off base. We were in the dark, too, until we learned about what practices like acupuncture, moxibustion, and cupping can do to make our everyday workouts better.
Turns out, there’s a new age-y remedy for everything from preventing injuries to speeding up recovery to boosting endurance, and runners, golfers, and run-of-the-mill gym rats are among the holistic health center clientele lining up to receive these treatments. Even the New York Mets and other MLB teams are jumping on the bandwagon.
But don’t worry if your relationship with acupuncture ends at a mental picture of somebody getting pricked like a human voodoo doll. We asked Lisa Alvarez, a licensed and board certified acupuncturist and master level Reiki practitioner at Healing Foundations in Chicago, to walk us through five holistic therapies that can make you a better athlete.
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If you’re limping around with a pulled muscle, the thought of getting pricked with dozens of tiny needles doesn’t sound pleasant, but hear us out on this one. In Chinese medicine, pain is a sign that a blockage—of blood, fluid or energy (chi)—is throwing off balance in the body. “When everything is balanced, circulation moves in an ordered manner,” says Alvarez. “And when you experience pain or stress, it’s a sign that circulation is impeded.” To get things moving in the right direction, carefully placed needles increase the flow of blood, fluid, and chi to areas of the body where there’s discomfort.
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