Chinese Sports Medicine is a science that athletes, martial artists and their trainers have utilized to their advantage for centuries.
Here’s the ticket, the main difference is in the initial phase of the injury.
I think that Eric Armstong, from Tree of Life explained it best. So to paraphrase;
‘If you imagine a basic injury is like a disaster site where the water pipes have broken and water is flooding the place because it (the swelling) has nowhere to drain. The repair crew (nutrients in the blood) can’t get in to fix things (things=cells) because there is water everywhere. The first step is to minimize the damage.’
In the West we have been taught to use the R.I.C.E formula ; ie rest,ice,compression and elevation for the first 24 hours. After which, we are supposed to rest and heat. The ice and elevation stops the swelling and then the heat is to encourage the circulation back to allow for repair.
The Eastern approach is to get new blood to the cells as quickly as possible so that the repair crew can do its work. But what about the flooding? The idea is to put in water pumps to take it away and put it somewhere else.
These water pumps come in 3 forms:
If you can’t get to treatment in the acute phase – Hello most likely! Then:
- Massage with a Liniment. This is can be applied by anyone. TCM sports therapists suggest to massage the sprained or strained area as immediately and as vigorously as possible. If possible with liniment.
In a treatment a practitioner would use:
- Heated Cups. These would be placed on either side of the injury so blood is drawn away from the injury site. The swelling and inflammation of the injured area is immediately reduced and space becomes available which is then allows fresh oxygenated blood to get to the injury, carrying with it all the essential nutrients and factors needed for repair.
- Acupuncture. Depending on the placement of the needle, the resulting vasodilation,vasoconstriction and general muscle twitching stimulates drainage and blood flow. It also directs Qi to the area, the Blood then follows.
What is liniment? This is what to cotton on to! -It’s miraculous stuff. Basically it’s an alcohol based tincture that has been made by distilling potent healing herbs that reduce swelling, inflammation, pain and promote healing. There are many common, easily-found and effective liniments around.
So the steps are:
- You get hurt.
- Straight away douse the area with your liniment of choice
- Rub it in to tender spots.
- Mobilize (gently move with your hands) the joint or area, this can be a bit painful so breathe, stay mindful and calm. Gently manipulate the joint the opposite way that it’s been affected. IE if you rolled your ankle, slowly and gently roll it with your hands in the opposite diection.
- Loosely strap the area and keep it warm.
- Repeat steps 2.3 and 4. Every 1-2 hours in the first 12-24 hours.
Great, well done. You’ve gotten through the acute phase, with technique thats going to set you up for the best longer term recovery.
The most important factor to really understand is keep the circulation going. Injuries can become chronic if stagnant blood is not removed. Over time the local area becomes deprived of nourishment which can cause permanent weakness and potential for repeated injury to the area.
More tools that keep the circulation and thereby the nourishment going are:
Moxabustion. This is a powerful tool for healing. It’s also pain free and inexpensive.
For take home care, we will give you a stick of moxa, in which you light and hold over the site of injury or nearby acu-points (if known) for 5-10 mins at a time. Until you feel the heat saturate the area. Do this everyday for about 2 weeks after the acute phase has passed.
Herbal Patches. The quickest and easiest way to keep the area infused with healing herbs. No witchy poo apocatheray skills required. They come fully prepared. They are a stick-on plaster which you apply to the affected area. They infuse the skin and then blood with similar healing herbs that are in the liniments. They usually last for 7-12 hours and are very inexpensive.
What else? Self Massage, stretching, mobilization , heat, heat, heat and liniment, liniment, liniment.
So there you have it. All the tools and tips you need to look after yourself and bounce back from any injury. So, stock up your first aid kit with these inexpensive and effective tools and you’ll be the star of any outdoor adventure or sporting event.
Products are available at Cloud Gate Therapeutics, China Books, online, many Asian grocery store and the occasional chemist.