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Acupuncture for Athletes and Their Injuries

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: http://cnyhealingarts.com, we have locations in Syracuse, Albany and Rochester, NY.

Written by:

Shelley Szymko-Carroll, L.Ac.
email sszymko-carroll@cnyhealingarts.com
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.

The Health Benefits of Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

In Sanskrit, “utthita” means extended, “trikona” means three angle or triangle, and “asana” means pose. If you have neck issues or are uncomfortable in our version of Extended Triangle Pose, turn your gaze down to the floor and consciously relax your neck. Then shift your gaze slowly upward if you can. Alternatively, keep your head centered and gaze forward.

To practice this pose with a licensed yoga teacher, check out our yoga class schedule for each location (Syracuse, Rochester, Albany).

Getting Into Extended Triangle Pose:

Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Exhale and step your feet apart about 4 feet wide – it’s usually wider than you think – keeping your feet parallel to each other. Your heels should be in line. Raise your arms and reach out to the sides, palms down. Try to keep certain postures throughout Utthita Trikonasana: shoulders wide, arms parallel to the floor and torso long and upright.

Now, turn your left foot in slightly to the right and your right foot out 90 degrees to the right so the inner part of your right foot faces forward. Remember to keep your heels in line with each other. Then, turn your right thigh outward so it faces in the direction of your right toes. Remain facing forward.

Inhale and reach strongly to the right, allowing your hips to shift to the left as you do so. Now, exhale and bend to the right – hinging at the hips, not the waist. The key is to lengthen your torso: extend through the crown of your head while drawing your hips and tailbone toward your back heel.

Lower your right hand to your right shin, ankle, or the floor on either side of the foot (it depends on the flexibility in your hips, legs, and/or shoulders). Make sure to keep your legs straight, thigh muscles engaged and front right foot pressed firmly into the ground.  At this point, your arms should be perpendicular to the floor. Stretch your left arm straight up toward the sky.

Gaze up softly at your left hand. Hold this pose for 3-6 slow, deep breaths. To come out, inhale and press your back heel strongly into the floor. Repeat to the left for the same length of time.

Benefits of Extended Triangle Pose: 

  • Strengthens your legs, feet and ankles
  • Stretches your hips, groins, hamstrings, calves and spine
  • Opens your chest and shoulders
  • Strengthens your back, neck and abdominals
  • Stimulates your abdominal organs, aiding in digestion
  • Therapeutic for stress, anxiety, infertility, flat feet, neck pain, osteoporosis, sciatica and symptoms of menopause
  • Relieves backache, especially during pregnancy

The Health Benefits of Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose)

            According to Hindu mythology (specifically the Mahabharata), there was a certain Lord Shiva who loved the daughter, Sati, of his enemy, Daksha. Daksha refused to accept Shiva, even when Shiva and Sati were married. This animosity between Sati’s father and husband upset her so greatly that she killed herself.

Distraught by his wife’s death, myth tells that Shiva created the fiercest warrior from a bead of sweat on his forehead. This warrior’s name was Virabhadra, and Shiva set him out to destroy those who had caused the death of his beloved Sati.

In Dr. Svoboda’s dynamic book The Greatness of Saturn, he describes Virabhadra as looking “like a flaming fire, having many heads and many eyes, and tens of thousands of arms and legs. The embodiment of concentrated might…”

The fiery power of Virabhadra takes form in three different Warrior poses, this being the second. So, each time you perform Virabhadrasana I, II or III, think of the mighty conqueror from which your posture gets its name. Feel that and try to embody it.

Getting Into Warrior II Pose:

Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Inhale and lift your arms over your head, then bring your hands into prayer position at your chest. Take several long, deep breaths before stepping your feet 4-5 ft. apart and simultaneously raising your arms parallel to the floor, palms facing down. Actively reach out to the sides, drawing your shoulder blades apart.

At this point, your feet should be parallel to each other and your heels in line. Now, turn your left foot in slightly to the right and your right foot out 90 degrees to the right. Make sure to keep your heels in line. Firm your thighs and turn the right one outward. Notice that everything is pointing to your right.

Now, exhale and bend your right knee over your right ankle so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor. Bring your right thigh parallel to the floor if possible. To anchor yourself in Virabhadrasana II, firm your left leg and press the outer part of your left heel into the floor. Tuck your tailbone in slightly. Your weight should be distributed evenly on both feet, and your arms should stay outstretched and parallel to the floor throughout this movement.

Once you have your lower body in place, focus on your upper body. It should be centered over your hips, keeping both sides of your torso equally long. Avoid leaning over your right thigh. Turn your head to the right and look out over your fingers. Hold posture for several long, deep breaths. Inhale as you come up, then repeat with your left leg forward.

Benefits of Warrior II Pose:

Strengthens and stretches your legs, ankles and feet

  • Stretches your hips, groins and shoulders
  • Opens your chest and lungs
  • Builds stamina and concentration
  • Energizes tired limbs
  • Stimulates your abdominal organs
  • Helps relieve backaches, especially through your 2nd trimester
  • Develops balance and stability
  • Improves circulation and respiration
  • Therapeutic for flat fleet, sciatica, osteoporosis, carpal tunnel and infertility

The Health Benefits of Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose)

There are generally three variations on Warrior Pose; this is the first. CNY Healing Arts encourages you to incorporate this dynamite asana into your daily yoga routine. Even better, check out our yoga class schedules by location (Syracuse, Rochester to practice Virabhadrasana I with a licensed yoga practitioner.

Getting Into Warrior I Pose:

Begin in High Lunge with your right leg forward. If you are in correct stance, your right knee should be directly over your right ankle. Your right toes should point straight ahead and your left toes should be pointed 45-60 degrees away from your body.

Make sure your right heel is in line with your left heel, then engage your legs by pressing through your feet. Bring your hands to your hips, squaring your hips and shoulders straight ahead. Then, relax your shoulders down your back and gently draw them together.

Inhale and lift your arms straight up over your head, palms facing each other. If possible, bring your palms together. Now, reach up strongly through your arms. Avoid puffing out your sides; rather lift through your sternum so you can feel a nice stretch in your entire torso and spine. Keep your shoulders relaxed and chest lifted.

To deepen the stretch, keep your palms together and gently arch your back, gazing up towards the ceiling. Remember, your body is a temple capable of miraculous things. Feel strength and stability in your stance. Breathe deep and steady for several breaths.

To release, come back into high lunge, straighten the right leg, pivot your body 90 degress to the left, and point your toes in the same direction. Extend your arms out to your sides and you will be in Utthita Hasta Padasana (Extended Hands and Feet Pose). Take a few breaths of relaxation and repeat the exercise with your left foot forward.

Benefits of Warrior I Pose:

  • Strengthens your shoulders, arms, legs, ankles and back
  • Opens yours hips, chest and lungs
  • Improves focus, balance and stability
  • Encourages good circulation and respiration
  • Stretches your arms, legs, shoulders, neck, belly, groins and ankles
  • Energizes the entire body

Massage: A Natural Boost for Your Body

Many of us know how wonderful it feels to receive a massage from a licensed therapist, yet we often overlook the true, long-lasting benefits of a good massage. In 2010, studies done by researchers from Cedar-Sinai Medical Center, led by Dr. Mark Rapaport, showed that a single massage can produce significant changes in the health of the immune system and endocrine system.

This, along with numerous other studies, indicates that there is more to massage therapy than just feeling good; it holds actual scientific and medical credibility, which stems from the body’s heightened immune response to massage treatment. Massage therapy can benefit you by:

  • Increasing your body’s “natural killer cells,” the immune system’s first line of defense against invading sickness
  • Decreasing stiffness and discomfort, especially from injury
  • Reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol
  • Boosting feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine
  • Controlling blood pressure
  • Lessening the effects of stress, anxiety and depression
  • Decreasing pain by blocking your nervous system’s pain receptors
  • Easing symptoms of migraines, mood swings, labor pain, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), cancer, carpal tunnel, fibromyalgia, and multiple sclerosis
  • Encouraging better sleep by increasing the brain waves associated with deep sleep (delta waves)
  • Boosting alertness and improving attention span
  • Improving circulation of bodily fluids like blood and lymph
  • Encouraging less aggressive behavior by reducing levels of the hormone arginine vasopressin

At CNY Healing Arts, we offer customized massage treatment, Maya Abdominal Massage, prenatal massage, Reiki treatment for reproductive health, and much more. To learn more about us, including our team of Licensed Massage Therapists (LMT), check out our staff by location: Syracuse, Rochester, or Albany.

The Health Benefits of Utthita Hasta Padasana (Extended Hands and Feet Pose)

Utthita Hasta Padasana can easily be overlooked as an intermediary pose. Truthfully, it is rarely practiced at yoga class by itself, yet still holds important benefits. This asana will help you measure the correct distance your feet should be spread apart when in standing postures.

When you complete that simultaneous step of hopping your feet apart and spreading your arms to their full extent, your ankles should be somewhat below your wrists. This is your ideal stance for standing poses.

If you are having trouble completing a standing pose, like the Warrior Poses, whatever is going wrong can often be traced back to an intermediary pose like this one. It is much easier to correct your initial stance here then in the full pose.

Getting Into Extended Hands and Feet Pose:

Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Your weight should be balanced evenly throughout your thighs, calves, ankles and feet. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Simultaneously, lengthen your entire spine and firm your thighs as you turn them inward.

Make sure to straighten the spine through the neck, balancing your head evenly between your shoulders so your chin in parallel to the floor.  Gaze softly ahead of you, then, rest your shoulders down on your back.

Lift your elbows to shoulder-height and brings your fingertips together in front of your chest, palms facing down. Lift and open your chest – avoid puffing your sides forward, but lift through the sternum.

Inhale and hop (or lightly step) your feet about 4-5 feet wide, extending your arms out straight at the same time. Your feet should be parallel to each other. Actively stretch from your shoulders to the tips of your fingers and from your hips to your heels. Hold posture for several long, deep breaths.

Benefits of Extended Hands and Feet Pose:

  • Opens your chest
  • Strengthens your legs
  • Helps you develop good stance for standing poses

The Health Benefits of Malasana (Garland Pose)

Squatting used to be an ordinary posture for our ancestors. Through daily routine and normal practice, they were comfortable keeping their torso and upper legs hinged at a 160-degree angle. Nowadays, many of use sit in chairs, beds or cars all day long. We are most comfortable having our bodies set in a 90-degree angle.

So, we sit and we slouch; slowly, but surely, losing mobility in our hips and back. Unknowingly, our posture is fueling the fire for a wide range of health problems later in life. Fortunately, Malasana contradicts these common practices and keeps our joints well “oiled” for long-term use.

To practice Malasana with a licensed yoga practitioner, check out our yoga class schedules by location (Syracuse, Rochester).

Getting Into Garland Pose:

Begin by coming into a squat. Bring your feet as close together as you can comfortably get them, while still keeping them relatively parallel to each other. If possible, keep your heels on the floor; if not, support them with a folded mat or rolled up blanket. Move your thighs slightly wider than your torso and, as you exhale, lean forward so your torso fits snugly between them.

Try to relax your front ankles. Now, press your elbows against your inner knees, creating resistance, and bring your palms together in prayer at the center of your chest. This should help lengthen your torso. Remember to keep your body weight forward; it’s easier if you are practicing Malasana on a natural incline.

To deepen the pose, press your inner thighs against the sides of your torso. Extend your arms out and notch your shins into your armpits. Then, press your fingertips to the floor or clasp the back of your heels from outside your ankles. Your spine should be straight and your shoulders relaxed.

Hold posture for 30 seconds if you are just beginning to practice Malasana. Gradually work your way up to five minutes. To come out of the pose: inhale, straighten the knees, and come into Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend Pose).

Benefits of Garland Pose:

  • Opens your hips and groin
  • Stretches your ankles, lower hamstrings, back and neck
  • Tones your abdominals
  • Aids in digestion
  • Strengthens your metabolism
  • Keeps your pelvic and hip joints healthy
  • Ideal for prenatal yoga

Acupuncture for the Immune System

The oldest known medical book to date was written around 4000 years ago in China. This book describes the use of acupuncture to treat a wide range of medical issues. From there, knowledge of the treatment’s benefits spread across Asia – reaching Europe by the 1700s. Only in the last 200 years has acupuncture been medically prevalent in the United States.

Despite this short period of relevance, we have a good understanding of what happens when a person undergoes acupuncture. In a nutshell, treatment may cause physical responses in nerve cells, the pituitary gland, and parts of the brain. These responses can then cause the body to release hormones, brain chemicals, and proteins that collectively govern a number of its functions: balancing blood pressure and body temperature, strengthening the immune system, and relieving pain.

These advantages of acupuncture are much of the reason why the treatment is often recommended to those fighting cancer. Moreover, we can all benefit from a natural immune boost, cancer or not. You see, when we build up the body’s natural defenses, it is significantly less likely that hostile organisms (like viruses or bacteria) will be able to take over. If our bodies fail to protect us, we get sick.

Acupuncture cannot cure a weak immune system; only you can take control of your health by choosing to exercise, eat right, get enough sleep, and be emotionally healthy. Acupuncture can complement and support your body when restoring it to good health. Treatment works to revitalize you – down to the very cells that make up your body.

To make an appointment for either consultation or treatment, contact us.

Acupuncture for Allergies

 

Each year, almost $6 billion are spent on medications for the treatment of allergies, with another $300 million spent on office visits. In America, an estimated 50 million people suffer from a variety of allergies. In each case, a person’s allergies are specific to certain allergens. An allergen is a substance that can cause an allergic reaction, where the body may identify it as foreign or dangerous.

So, what is an allergy you ask? An allergy is defined as your immune system’s exaggerated reaction to substances that are generally not harmful. Your immune system is usually pretty good at distinguishing between the good stuff and bad stuff in your body, but in a person with allergies, the immune response is oversensitive. When it recognizes an allergen, it releases chemicals to fight it off. This is what causes the symptoms of an allergic reaction: itching, swelling, hives, rashes, mucus production, muscles spasms, and more.

Acupuncture is an incredibly helpful treatment for allergies, sometimes curing it altogether. In Chinese medicine, allergies are said to be caused by an “invasion of wind cold.” Treatment is aimed at dispersing “wind” and nourishing the immune system. In western medicine, acupuncture is known to balance the unconscious responses of the nervous system, thereby decreasing the body’s reactivity to allergens. In effect, acupuncture improves the body’s natural healing mechanisms.

After treatment, patients often feel calmer, can sleep better, and withstand illness more easily. This is probably due to the fact that acupuncture significantly decreases stress levels. Furthermore, the ancient Chinese thought that acupuncture could improve life span. Since we know that stress increases cell deterioration, it is possible that acupuncture does fight aging and help us live longer.

If you’re interested in acupuncture to treat your allergies, please call the location nearest you.

Syracuse – 315.671.6755
Rochester – 585.244.1280 ext.2
Latham – 518.724.5750

The Health Benefits of Purvottanasana (Upward Plank Pose)

Purvottanasana means intense eastward facing stretch. As the sun “rises in the east and sets in the west,” the east is known as the direction of new beginnings and budding potential. In Upward Plank Pose, we draw on the strength of the core and leg muscles, as well as the support of the shoulders beneath the heart.

Note: if you are a beginner struggling with Purvottanasana, practice your posture with the support of a chair. Sit near the front edge of the seat and wrap your hands around the back edge. Inhale as you lift your pelvis, then straighten each leg with an inhale.

Getting Into Upward Plank Pose:

Start in Dandasana (Staff Pose). Place your hands behind your hips with the tips of your fingers right behind your buttocks. Either point your fingers towards your body, which is more common, or away from your body. If you point them towards your body, your shoulders will be less open, but it’s a great stretch for your wrist flexors. If you have limited range of motion of the wrist, this posture may hurt and is not recommended.

If you point your fingers away from your body, your shoulders will be more open and will allow a greater stretch in your chest, but it is more likely for your elbow to hyperextend. If you have trouble with hyperextension in your elbows, this posture may be uncomfortable for you. As you move into Purvottanasana, you could have someone press the outside of your arms inward to stabilize your elbows.

Now, keep your legs extended along the mat, or, if you need to modify, bend your knees and place your feet on the floor. Exhale and lift your bottom off the floor, pressing your hips upward. As you come into position, push through your thumbs and big toes. Straighten your legs one at a time and avoid hardening your buttocks. Ideally, your torso should be parallel to the floor, but it can take some time. Support the lift of your chest by firming your shoulder blades against your back.

As you move into posture, you will want to keep your neck elongated (you will be fighting gravity from pulling your head down). When you’re comfortable in Purvottanasana, you will want to keep a slight chin tuck as you lower the crown of your head towards the floor. You don’t want to feel any compression in your spine as you do this. Relax and breathe steadily, holding posture for 30 seconds. As you exhale, sit back down in Dandasana.

Benefits of Upward Plank Pose:

  • Strengthens your triceps, wrists, back, and legs
  • Stretches your shoulders, chest, and front ankles
  • Frees your mind
  • Helps keep you open to new possibilities