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The Comprehensive Guide to TCM and How It Can Help with Sports Injuries


Sports injuries are common among athletes and other people participating in sports. Traditionally thought of sports injuries can also occur in people who have not participated in sports. For example, housewives often get tennis elbow, even though they may never have played.



The most common sports injuries include:

  1. Strains. Strains are by far the most common of all sports-related injuries simply because we use so many muscles and tendons when we exercise or play. 
  2. Sprains. 
  3. Knee injuries. 
  4. Fractures. 
  5. Tennis elbow. 
  6. Plantar fasciitis/shin splints. 
  7. Back injuries/back pain. 
  8. Concussion.



Top 4 Types of Sport Injuries

The above sports injuries can be divided into the following four categories:


  • Overuse

Overuse injuries include shoulder impingement, lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), and stress fractures, to name a few. Overuse injuries can arise as a result of training faults such as ramping up an activity too quickly or exercising for too long without enough rest and recuperation time.


  • Blunt trauma (such as a fall or direct severe injury)

Blunt trauma, sometimes called non-penetrating trauma or blunt force trauma, is a damage to the body caused by a strong impact, a fall, or a physical attack with a dull item. Penetrating trauma, on the other hand, occurs when an object or surface penetrates the skin, resulting in an open wound.

When the body collides with the dashboard, steering wheel, or seatbelt during a car collision, the body is pushed into the dashboard, steering wheel, or seatbelt.
A pedestrian or bicyclist collides with a motor vehicle.

In sports, there are contact collisions. A punch to the body is an example of a physical trauma, or falls, particularly those from a tremendous height.


  • Fracture and dislocation

Dislocations occur when a bone moves out of its typical connecting joint. Fractures are breaks or fissures in the bone(s).


  • Sprains (ligament injuries) and strains (muscle injuries)

People virtually interchangeably use the terms “sprain” and “strain” to describe everything from a twisted ankle to a pulled hamstring.

A sprain affects the bands of tissue that join two bones together, whereas a strain affects a muscle or the band of tissue that connects a muscle to a bone.

These types of trauma will always cause varying degrees of pain or discomfort, ranging from mild to severe. Tissue damage can be accompanied by swelling, fever, tenderness, bruising, and loss of normal mobility.




Can TCM help sports injuries?

Yes, it can.

From the perspective of TCM, these injuries are caused by the obstruction of the meridian and collaterals, which leads to the imbalance or interruption of the internal circulation. Therefore, TCM uses various treatment methods to correct these interruptions and achieve a balance of soft tissue and organ functions. 




Types of TCM treatment include:

Acupuncture is to put fine needles into a specific position of the body to promote smooth flow and regulate the body. Acupuncture has been used to treat sports injuries such as lateral meniscus rupture, femoral acetabular impingement, ganglion cysts, and sports hernias as a helpful, noninvasive, and conservative therapy.


By burning the inside of the glass jar to achieve a vacuum effect, cupping will simulate fluid flow and relieve muscle tension.


Tuina, also known as therapeutic massage, uses various techniques and methods to improve fluid circulation and eliminate stagnation in the body.


Herbal medicine is a combination of various herbal medicines, usually tailored to your physical condition to coordinate your body’s imbalance. Herbal wraps or plasters made of mixed herbs can be applied externally to the affected area.




TCM Therapies can greatly improve sports performance and treat sports injuries

These therapies help to promote the flow of water in the body and disperse stagnant fluids to reduce pain and swelling. According to the patients’ indications and contraindications for treatment, Chinese medicine practitioners will combine the use of treatment methods to speed up the rehabilitation process of sports injuries.



What about sprained ankles?

Is TCM beneficial for a sprained ankle?

Acupuncture and TCM therapy of sprained ankles can help to minimize pain, edema, and healing time. Acupuncture promotes circulation, which reduces inflammation, and increases endorphin production, which relieves pain.



What about ligament tears?

Can acupuncture heal torn ligaments?

Although much less researched, the use of acupuncture has also recently been applied to chronic ankle pain, and specifically ligament sprains. Despite being a different tissue from tendons and muscles, there is no reason as to why a ligament injury would not benefit from acupuncture.




These TCM methods are an alternative to traditional Western medicine. It is a holistic approach to health that focuses on the body’s energy systems. TCM has been practised for thousands of years in China and it has been gaining traction in the West over the past few decades.

If you are experiencing sports injuries of any kind and think these TCM treatments may be right for you, give us a call or book a TCM consult online today!