Acupuncture for Athletes and Their Injuries

By Jessie Briel Published on

Did you know that acupuncture – a 2,500 year old system of medicine founded in China – can assist you with your athletic performance and any injuries endured while training and competing?

Yes, it can according to current research and thousands of Americans who try acupuncture each year and who can attest to its benefits.

Acupuncture, a complimentary form of medicine that is increasing in popularity and use, involves the insertion of tiny, hair-like needles into the skin to balance the body and improve overall health and well-being.

Acupuncture works through the stimulation of specific points on the body located on meridians or pathways. When these energetic pathways are blocked, the result is imbalance, illness and pain. Stimulation of acupuncture points improves both energy flow and blood circulation, improves energy levels and also provides relief from pain. “The brain is stimulated to release endorphins and trigger the immune system to help injuries heal. If done when an injury is “fresh,” acupuncture can significantly reduce recovery time.1

During a treatment, an acupuncturist may place the needles in the location of the pain or injury, or he or she may choose to place the needles distally – in another area of the body. For example, needles may be placed at the wrists to heal an injury of the foot. This style of treatment is especially beneficial for an ankle sprain where directly needling a swollen or inflamed area might be painful. Acupuncture also builds energy in the body to assist in recovery after training or competing.

Acupuncture is part of a broader system of Traditional Chinese Medicine that involves needling, as well as the use of Chinese herbs (both internally and topically), and electro-acupuncture (electro-stimulation) whereby cords are attached to the needles and electrical current sends “pulses” to muscle fibers to move energy, relieve blood stagnation and thus, relieve pain.

Research shows strong evidence that acupuncture alleviates pain in many places in the body and specifically in the back, knees, shoulders, elbows, wrists and neck. For runners and cyclists, acupuncture can be used to treat fatigue, muscle and joint pain, tight tendons, ankle sprains, shin splints, sciatica and planter’s fasciitis to name a few ailments.  Acupuncture received on a regular basis – once a week – for example can assist in preventing injury due to overuse of muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Treating sport injuries with TCM and acupuncture, instead of conventional treatments such as ultrasound and interferential/electrotherapy, is now routine, rather than a novelty.”2

In recent years, acupuncture has been used by many well-known professional marathoners, and baseball, basketball and tennis players. And so, next time you experience fatigue or an injury or would like to improve performance; acupuncture can assist you in getting ready for your next race!

If you would like to explore acupuncture and the healing that it can offer, we welcome you to visit our website to learn more:, we have locations in Syracuse, Albany and Rochester, NY.

Written by:

Shelley Szymko-Carroll, L.Ac.
2244 East Ave, Rochester, NY
Phone 585.244.1280


1 Runner’s World, January 1, 2007. Can Acupuncture heal an injury?

2Journal of Chinese Medicine, Sports Injuries and TCM, Young, Kevin, Number 78, June 2005.