With Australian sport more competitive than ever, traditional Chinese Medicine plays an important role in treating athletes. To be successful in any sport there’s a battle to stay fit and work hard, while also preventing over-exertion and injury. It’s a difficult balance and many athletes find themselves dealing with painful injuries like a sports hernia during their career. For some, this could just be short-term pain and discomfort. But for others, it could prevent or even stop, a career in sport altogether.
What is a Sports Hernia?
A sports hernia is not actually a hernia. Its correct name is athletic pubalgia. It’s generally caused by intense twisting and rapid changes of direction. This can happen with most sports, particularly soccer, football, hockey, running, rugby, hurdling and skiing. It strains or tears soft tissue, such as muscle tendon and ligament, in the groin or lower abdomen. Whereas an actual hernia may create a hole in the stomach wall, a sports hernia doesn’t. There is also no swelling below the skin, common with hernias.
The Role of Chinese Medicine in Treating Sports Injuries
While there are surgical options to correct a sports hernia, this comes with its own potential risks and complications. That’s why traditional Chinese medicine has become routine in the treatment of sports injuries. Acupuncture, cupping therapy, and Chinese herbal medicines deliver remarkable results with sports injuries. In fact, the oldest form of documented medicine in the world, Chinese Medicine has already been used as an effective treatment for soft tissue, bone and joint injuries for more than 5,000 years. Chinese Medicine takes a strategic approach to stop pain and infection, reduce swelling and inflammation and helps encourage tissue regeneration.
Acupuncture provides very fast and effective pain relief. When soft tissue is inflamed, very little can be done locally. However, acupuncture treats the pain on an area of the body away from the affected area. The treatment relieves pain quickly without re-inflaming the injured area. To maintain peak performance, many athletes often have regular treatments which can help with bruising, tendonitis, swelling, and muscle, tendon, and ligament injuries. It’s also used to treat chronic pain caused by a sprain.
Chinese herbs are used to help speed up the recovery of fractured bones, tendon tears and in the post-surgery rehabilitation of tissue. By facilitating the body’s own healing capacity, Chinese medicine works well alongside physiotherapy to help accelerate you through your recovery and rehabilitation. The faster the body is back to full health and recovery, the faster you are able to rebuild muscle atrophy and weakened tendons and the better the area will heal, giving your body the best chance to fully recover. Combined with acupuncture, herbal medicine can even help to treat a fracture whilst still in a plaster cast or boot, without the need to touch the actual injured site.
Cupping Therapy is increasingly becoming a popular Chinese medicine technique among professional athletes. At the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, many athletes, especially swimmers, were seen with circle shaped marks on their body as a result of cupping. This process uses suction by applying small cups to parts of the body to encourage circulation in the targeted area. Cupping is used for many sports-related issues such as neck, shoulder and back pain. Cupping is also effective after exercise to help remove waste products from muscles and tissues. The process helps lift the tissues and increase blood flow which drains out waste products from the tissues, replacing them with crucial nutrients and oxygen.
Don’t let an injury stop you playing the sport you love. So whether you are a professional athlete or enjoy taking part as a hobby, if you experience an injury like a sports hernia, then traditional Chinese medicine offers you a variety of effective treatments to help you in your recovery.