The fact acupuncture has become such an accepted practice is exemplified by the number of athletes that use it in modern time. Acupuncture and athletes have been synonymous for years.
At the Chinese National Games held in 1993, a total of nine Chinese women broke world distance running records. There was a big scandal over this as the athletes were accused of the use of steroids or other banned performance enhancing drugs. An investigation revealed that, indeed, the women had used performance enhancing drugs, but they were not banned ones at all. They were Chinese herbal remedies. They had been selected and given to the athletes based on individual examinations and a diagnosis of the athletes strengths and weakness based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
This event was an indication of the growing use of Traditional Chinese Medicine is the field of Sports Medicine. The use of herbal supplements is not the only part of TCM being used. Acupuncture is widely used in Sports medicine to both treat sports injuries and to improve performance in actual competition. These acupuncture athletes have found the treatments to be extremely beneficial in both areas.
The use of acupuncture in the management of pain is quite common. It is little wonder that athletes would find the treatments beneficial for this reason alone. Many athletic injuries involve a great deal of chronic pain and athletes are often called upon to function at a very high level despite the pain. There is a rather unsavory image of the professional athlete being given an injection just prior to the big game to mask his pain in order to be able to perform. This practice is usually portrayed as having very negative and serious consequences.
Acupuncture athletes are in one sense doing exactly the same thing. The difference is in the fundamental difference between the approach of Chinese medicine and Western medicine. The acupuncture treatment would not be a localized injection designed to reduce or mask pain from an injury. It would be a long term treatment designed to restore the natural harmony of the body and promote the healing. To put it another way, the shot in the locker room is treating the pain itself, while the acupuncture treatment is dealing with the cause of the pain.
One practitioner who treats acupuncture athletes explains his approach as having three prongs. The first prong is the Yin approach. It restores the health of the athlete and addresses past injuries and deficiencies. The Yang approach is geared toward enhancement of performance during actual competitions. The final prong is the application of all the resources of Traditional Chinese Medicine such as herbal supplements and healthy lifestyle practices. The world of athletics can be highly competitive and the use of harmful and dangerous chemical aids has become a world wide concern and scandal. The use of acupuncture can give an edge that is both safe and legal to the athlete.