Why Runners Should Definitely Try Acupuncture

Why Runners Should Definitely Try Acupuncture

By Ashley Lauretta, for Women Running magazine
18 December, 2015

Acupuncture, the alternative medicine practice of sticking thin needles into pressure points to relieve pain. While most runners first thought is to visit a physical therapist to treat pain symptoms, acupuncture is a great way to relief general soreness after recovering from an injury or helping to manage stress.

To get deeper into how acupuncture can benefit runners, we talked with Dr. Chris Stepien, D.C., CSCS, CAPP of Barefoot Rehabilitation Clinic to find out what you should know before your first appointment and more.

Why is acupuncture a good technique for runners to try?

Runners often run too much without cross-training. Runners also tend to run as stress management relief, which means their primary purpose is to deal with mental/emotional stresses at the expense of the integrity of the physical body. Acupuncture can increase recovery times by increasing blood flow to problematic areas as well as increasing parasympathetic nervous system (the “rest and digest” system) activity. Giving a runner a new way to cope with stress and an opportunity to breathe and relax causes the immune system to get to work on repairing damaged tissues from the run. This methodology described above can be used for any fitness regime that is heavy in one or two modalities (i.e. only running or running and biking with no other movement routines involved).​

What should someone know before acupuncture?

I’m always amazed at how the space to “just be” heals people. Acupuncture is extremely relaxing and should be used in someone’s self-care regime to relax. Also, the fear of needles is blown out of proportion and is almost always vanished after the first session.

How often should someone go for acupuncture?

Acupuncture or other parasympathetic-inducing activities are dependent on the dosage of sympathetic-inducing activities (the “fight and flight” nervous system). Overly stressed and high volume runners should implement more acupuncture sessions (one to two times a week) compared with more relaxed and low volume runners (every other week to once a month).

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