In her last regular physiotherapy column for Full Sus Sarah Walker continues with her needle theme and talks the less adventurous among us through the ins and outs of acupuncture.
“Acus” meaning needle and “punctura” to puncture, is the stimulation of various acupuncture points along the skin of the body to manipulate the flow of energy (Chi). Originating from China, acupuncture has been practiced for over three thousand years by the Chinese and only more recently by Westerners since the 1600s.
How does it work?
The Chinese theorise that Chi flows around the body along meridians or lines of acupuncture points from one meridian to another, each representing an internal organ. There are Yin (passivity, water, negative, cold, chronic, night) meridians and their opposite Yang (activity, fire, positive, hot, acute, day) meridians. If there is an imbalance in the energy between the Yin and Yang, disease occurs. Acupuncture helps to restore this balance by stimulating energy and blood flow through the body.
The Westerners theorise that the acupuncture points are specific areas of low electrical resistance, they often correlate to trigger points found in a muscle, or to the motor point of a muscle where the nerve enters a muscle. Stimulation of these points releases the body’s natural pain relieving chemicals and stimulates blood flow which relieves pain and swelling.
What is involved?
After discussing your ailment with the acupuncturist, he or she will decide which meridians need to be stimulated. Acupuncture needles are inserted into the various points, often in more than a few areas on your body. The needles may be uncomfortable or achy for the initial minute or two but soon settle. There may be feelings of warmth around the needles. Needles stay in for five to twenty minutes; this varies according to the nature of the problem. Needles can be stimulated by twirling, adding an electric current or by burning moxa on their ends. You’ll usually need six to ten sessions over a few weeks.
What’s in it for cyclists?
Acupuncture is very helpful to cyclists especially during a stage race as there are no side effects, no medication is necessary and the effects are often long lasting. We have used acupuncture very successfully on stage races for cyclists with headaches, swelling, acutely painful joints, and sinusitis (in fact one particular rider who struggled with sinusitis from dust allergies says he has never had sinusitis again after struggling with it for years).
If you have been struggling with an illness or injury for a while and conventional therapies are not helping, put acupuncture to the test, you may soon be a believer too!
Thanks to Sarah
We’d like to extend our thanks from the Full Sus editorial team and all the readers to Sarah for all her informative, helpful and healing physiotherapy columns. We’re glad to hear though that Walker Physiotherapy has grown to the extent that Sarah no longer has the time to pen her monthly columns, so if you were planning on paying her a visit for a physio appointment, you’d better book well in advance.