Weight-Lifting and Acupuncture
We treat many types of weight-lifting sports injuries with acupuncture at the Northside Holistic Center, and are quite successful in getting our patients back to full athletic functioning as quickly as possible.
Looking back over patients I have seen over the last twenty years, the five most common weight-lifting injuries have been:
1. Shoulder Impingement Syndrome
This injury is caused by an inflammation to the tendons around the rotator cuff in the shoulder. This is typically caused by any overhead weight lifting activities, such as lateral raises, bench presses and shoulder presses. Typically, the first signs of this injury are pain in the front of the shoulder and the side of the upper arm. The pain will first be noticeable only when raising the arms, but if the injury worsens it may cause pain while lying down or after exercising as well. With shoulder impingement syndrome, the pain will stop before the elbow.
2. Rotator Cuff Tear
A tear to the rotator cuff may occur with the same exercises that could cause shoulder impingement syndrome. However, a tear is a much more serious condition that comes with intense pain immediately after the tear occurs. The arm will become weak and a snapping sensation may also be felt.
3. Patellar Tendonitis
This injury involves inflammation to the tendon connecting the kneecap to the shinbone. It is often a result of the quadriceps muscles being too tight or overused. This adds stress on the kneecap, which causes the inflammation. The condition is marked by pinpoint pain at the base of the kneecap. Hack squats, lunges and any weight lifting with the legs can potentially cause this injury.
4. Back Sprains and Strains
Because many weight lifting exercises require the use of the back, strains and sprains in this area of the body are common. Sprains involve torn or stretched ligaments in the back, while a strain affects torn muscles or tendons. In both cases, pain, swelling and trouble moving the back easily are common symptoms. Rows, bench presses, dead lifts and curls are some of the exercises which may cause these types of injuries.
5. Herniated Disk
Another injury common among weight lifters is a herniated disk. This condition occurs when comes of the cushions between the vertebrae in the backbone either slips out of place or ruptures. This can be caused by trying to lift heavy weights with your back muscles rather than the muscles in your legs.
The good news is that with all of these types of injuries, the patient is very likely to experience significantly faster recovery with acupuncture.
Interesting Studies and Links:
This from the European Journal of Applied Physiology:
Immediate effects of acupuncture on strength performance: a randomized, controlled crossover trial.
Hübscher M, Vogt L, Ziebart T, Banzer W.
The present study investigated the immediate efficacy of acupuncture compared to sham acupuncture and placebo laser acupuncture on strength performance. A total of 33 recreational athletes (25.2 +/- 2.8 years; 13 women) were randomized to receive acupuncture, sham acupuncture (needling at non-acupuncture points) and placebo laser acupuncture (deactivated laser device) in a double-blind crossover fashion with 1 week between trials. Assessment included bipedal drop jumps for maximum rebound height and quadriceps maximum isometric voluntary force (MIVF). Furthermore, surface electromyography (EMG) was used to measure the EMG activity of the rectus femoris muscle during a 30-s sustained MIVF of the knee extensors. Mean power frequency (MPF) analysis was applied to characterize muscular endurance. Measurements were performed at baseline and immediately after treatment by a blinded investigator. Repeated measures ANOVA and post hoc paired-sample t test with Bonferroni-Holm correction were used for statistical analysis. The difference in the mean change in MIVF from baseline between acupuncture (46.6 N) and sham laser acupuncture (19.6 N) was statistically significant (p < 0.05), but no significant difference was found between acupuncture (46.6 N) and sham acupuncture (28.8 N). ANOVA did not show statistically significant treatment effects for drop jump height or MPF. The present study shows that a single acupuncture treatment was efficacious for improving isometric quadriceps strength in recreational athletes. These results might have implications not only for athletic performance enhancement, but also for rehabilitation programs aimed at restoring neuromuscular function.
From Breaking Muscle Fitness: "The results indicated that acupuncture treatment did improve strength as measured by researchers. Overall researchers concluded that a short and long term effect of acupuncture as an alternative treatment should be further investigated. This research supports the mind body approach to training and rehabilitating athletes by examining alternative modalities. Future research should be conducted and evaluated to assess whether or not theses strength gains could also enhance athletic performance."
From Triathalon USA: High praise and recommendation for tri-atheletes to consider using acupuncture as a component of training and rehabilitiation after injury.