As I've written before We Were Built To Run, but many things can stand in the way between ourselves and what's best for us. Affective running requires more than just physical ability. In recent years, more and more athletes and runners are turning to acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine to improve their performance. Here are three areas that challenge runners (and athletes alike) and the solutions available from the practice of acupuncture that can help alleviate them.
- Chronic Pain. First is the most obvious Barrier that presents itself to runners. Chronic pain can sideline even the best conditioned athletes. Many runners will endure pain in the muscles and joints to accomplish their desire distances but over time this practice can take a toll. Running through the pain causes compensatory patterns in either the area of pain or some other part of the body. The Meridian system in acupuncture clues the practitioner into these patterns for more effective outcomes. So, long-term knee pain/Weakness can easily be traced to an affected part of the hip along that same or corresponding pathway. The acupuncturist can use needles or a technique called cupping to free up constraint, lengthen muscle, and reduce inflammation. Follow-up visits help deter the body from resuming painful patterns. We would then recommend a running analysis to fine-tune imbalances and technique.
- Abdominal / diaphragmatic Breathing. To experienced runners performance is very important. Endurance is key and oxygenation provides the fuel to go the distance. Surprisingly large amount of runners do not breathe in a pattern that maximizes oxygen intake. Abdominal / diaphragmatic breathing increases the volume of air brought into the law and also draws that air into the blood rich lower lobes of the lungs. Additional breathing high into the chest yeah requires more muscular engagement of the neck and shoulder muscles. Exclusively using the diaphragm to breath appears far more efficient. Breathing into the belly originates from Asian martial arts traditions. Instruction from an acupuncturist familiar with the practice of Qi Gong Will quickly transform your breathing pattern into a high level performance tool.
- Stress. Modern life can put us in some very stressful positions. It is easy to think of reasons not to run when we are stressed out. Obstacles seemed more powerful. Time appears to be less of a resource. The irony of these situations are remarkable because oftentimes running is a stress relief for the runner. Acupuncture can reduce stress, Anxiety, restlessness and bouts of depression that prevent us from taking better care of ourselves. Reducing stress can bring clarity to the situation and allow the runner to see a healthier path. In my practice I like to call it, “Getting people out of their own way.” Once the athlete is beyond the immobilizing emotions the inspiring benefits of running are once again enjoyed.
My advice when running, keep your breath in the belly, your eyes on the horizon, and a smile on your face.