As we become more active in the warm weather, we may also encounter some injuries. These may be acute, such as an ankle sprain, broken bone, or dislocated joint; or they may be repetitive injuries, like tennis elbow or shin splints.
To prevent injury, it’s helpful to ease into new activities gradually, stretch before and after exercise, and be mindful of how your body is feeling. Keeping an eye on those milder aches and pains, and caring for them early, can help you avoid a full-blown injury later.
If you do get injured, acupuncture can help speed the healing process by increasing the flow of qi and blood to the injured area, bringing down swelling and inflammation, relieving pain, and helping to restore a normal range of motion.
Sometimes this involves treating near the site of the injury; more often, especially when an injury is new, or very painful, more distant points are chosen. These may be points on the same channel that have a direct effect on the injured area, or points that mirror the injured area on another part of the body, such as treating the ankle to benefit a wrist injury. (This is remarkably effective, and part of the great mystery of how our bodies are wired). Other points may be added to systemically relieve pain, reduce swelling, and boost the body’s ability to heal.
Herbal formulas are also available to help your body heal injuries. At different stages of healing, they may help reduce swelling and relieve pain, move congestion and old blood out of the area to allow for repair of tissues, and/or nourish the body to rebuild tissue and bone. Topical herbs can also be used locally in the form of plasters, liniments, or salves.
Seeking Chinese medical treatment for injury is especially recommended if something isn’t healing as fast as you think it should, or if you’re eager to get back to full health and activity as fast as possible.
Some hints for faster healing:
Ice is good in the first 24 hours; after that, it may decrease blood flow and stiffen muscles.
Check with a doctor immediately if you suspect any broken bones.
Eat well, and get lots of protein
Gentle exercise helps keep blood flowing to the area
Don’t overdo it — ease back into using the injured area gradually