Traditional Chinese Medicine/Acupuncture
Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM is one of the oldest form of medicine, dating back more than 2500 years. As diverged from Western medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine views the body and the whole person as a unified organic whole. Psychological, emotional and physical aspects of a human are all seen as interrelated and interdependent. Hence Traditional Chinese Medicine is often seen as a “holistic therapy”.
Key Principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine:
1. The body as an integrated whole. Every system, every structure of the body is an integral and necessary part of the whole. Along with the mind and emotions, the physical body structure forms a miraculous complex and interrelated system energized by qi/ life force.
2. The body is in sync with the universe and nature. Changes in universe and nature are always evident in your body. TCM recognizes and honor the fact of how the body is closely related to nature and factors in the seasonal, geographical aspects as well as the age, genetics and body constitution when treating health problems.
3. The body has a powerful self-healing ability. The body has a regenerative capacity like that of the nature. Hence TCM always attempts to tap on this powerful potential of the body through various techniques so that it can regain its healthy state without the need for external chemicals.
4. Prevention is the best cure. Health maintenance is the key in TCM as the preservation of health rather than simply the treatment of disease is one of the guiding principles of TCM. A paragraph from the earliest foundational text of Traditional Chinese Medicine back in the Warring States period (476-221 BC), also known as the “Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor” says “In the old days the sages treated disease by preventing illness before it began, just as a good government or emperor was able to take the necessary steps to avert war. Treating an illness after it has begun is like suppressing revolt after it has broken out. If someone digs a well only when thirsty, or forges weapons only after becoming engaged in battle, one cannot help but ask: aren’t these actions too late?”
Nevertheless, when an illness breaks out, intervention from TCM can help treat the illness. And when there is no illness, the constant regular TCM treatments can then upkeep the health of the person. Below is the list of techniques used in TCM treatments and available at Integrative Physio:
* Pulse taking and tongue diagnosis consultation
* Acupuncture (Body, Facial, Auricular)
* Chinese herbal medication prescription
* Paediatric Massage
* Blood letting
Intensive Customised Cupping-Acupuncture 7 days Preparation & 7 days Recovery Programme for Optimal Competitive Athletic Performance
The Rio Olympics have wrapped up a few years ago. Among the many, many running-related highlights, we won’t soon forget Michael Phelps racking up medals in the pool. But what got almost as much attention as the swimmer's medal count were the strange circular marks all over his upper body. That’s when our in-house TCM doctor Dr Lim Xiang Jun gave her two cents worth in the TV interview on how cupping aid the performance of athletes.
For athletes of any races ( or ironman events or simply exercise lovers, optimal performance on the day of the race is often desirable and muscles cramping up in the middle of the race will just be a shame, not to say washing the efforts of months of preparation down the drain.
Therefore, pre race preparation and training are of utmost importance, spanning from months to the last few moments before the flag off.
The week before and the week after the race or event are both important periods in any form of athletes training. This is because muscles, hormones, tendons, cells and almost every physiological system is pushed to the max pre and during the race.
However, traditional forms of treatments such as cupping and acupuncture have been shown to help the body recover faster.
Some of the scientifically measured physiological systems that are most effected in the preparation and after the race/event and how long each takes to repair and how traditional forms of treatment can help with preparation and recovery are listed below:
Muscle soreness and fatigue are the most obvious case of damage caused by intensive training. Scientific studies1 conducted on the calf muscles of runners concluded that both the intensive training for, and the race itself, induce inflammation and muscle fiber necrosis that significantly impaired muscle power and durability for up the 14 days post marathon.
It will take the muscles about 2 weeks post race to return to full strength.
One study2 have shown that blood lactic acid which are the cause of muscle fatigue was significantly lower after acupuncture, hence inducing the rate of muscle recovery.
Cellular damage, which includes oxidative damage, increased production of creatinine kinase (CK) – a marker that indicates damage to skeletal and myocardial tissue, and increased myoglobin levels in the blood stream (which often results in blood being present in urine) is seen after intensive training and exercise.
One study3 concluded that CK damage persisted more than 7 days post race while another study4 confirmed the presence of myoglobin in the bloodstream post marathon for 3-4 days post race.
Both of these studies clearly indicate that the body needs at least 7-10 days of rest post race to fully recover from the cellular damage caused during the race.
These markers, along with a suppressed immune system, which is discussed below, is the primary reason that the optimal recovery schedule avoids cross training the first 2-3 days.
Studies5 have shown that electroacupuncture promotes regeneration of nerve fibres and motor function recovery, hence it is definite that acupuncture combined with other modalities of traditional treatments can help with cellular and tissue damages recovery.
Post race, the immune system is severely compromised, which increases the risk of contracting colds and the flu.
Furthermore, a suppressed immune system is one of the major causes of overtraining. A recent study6 confirms that the immune system is compromised up to three days post race and is a major factor in overtraining syndrome.
Therefore, it is critical that the athlete rest as much as possible in the three days following any race of high intensity and focus on eating healthy and nutrient rich foods.
Studies7 have tried to explain that cupping therapy can aid in Muscle relaxation, changes in local tissue structures and increase in blood circulation which might be explained by “Nitric Oxide theory”. Immunological effects and hormonal adjustments might be attributed to “Activation of immune system theory”.
For acupuncture, more and more researches8 has revealed that acupuncture can regulate immunity, for example, to enhance anticancer and antistress immune function and exert anti-inflammation effects. Nevertheless, even not to the extend of anti cancer, the boosting of immunity has proven significant benefits for post race recovery.
Hence it is clear that intensive races like ironman, triathlon/biathlon/marathon induce significant muscle, cellular and immune system damage during training and for 3 to 14 days post race. Therefore, it is essential that all athletes have a 7 day speed pre-race recovery and preparation protocol and a 7 day post-race rest and rejuvenation of these physiological systems.
Depending on the type of races and your body condition, Dr Lim Xiang Jun will assess and customise a 7 day pre and post race programme with traditional treatment modalities including Acupuncture-Cupping to fully prepare you before the race and recover effectively after the race.
1 Hikida RS et al, Muscle fiber necrosis associated with human marathon runners. Neurol Sci. 1983 May;59(2):185-203.
2 Zen-Pin Lin et al, Effects of Acupuncture Stimulation on Recovery Ability of Male Elite Basketball Athletes.The American Journal of Chinese Medicine 37(3):471-81.
4 J E Smith et al. Effects of prolonged strenuous exercise (marathon running) on biochemical and haematological markers used in the investigation of patients in the emergency department. BMJ Journals. Volume 38, Issue 3
5 Yi-Fan Li, et al. The Comprehensive Therapy of Electroacupuncture Promotes Regeneration of Nerve Fibers and Motor Function Recovery in Rats after Spinal Cord Injury. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018; 2018: 7568697.
6 Lakier Smith. Overtraining, excessive exercise, and altered immunity: is this a T helper-1 versus T helper-2 lymphocyte response? Sports Med. 2003;33(5):347-64.
7 Abdullah M.N.Al-Bedah. The medical perspective of cupping therapy: Effects and mechanisms of action.Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine xxx (2018) 1e8.
8 Fengxia Liang. Acupuncture and Immunity. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015; 2015: 260620.