You’re probably here because you’re wondering what exactly a Sports Medicine Acupuncture treatment looks like and how is it different from a regular acupuncture treatment. I put the following together to answer that very question. I hope it satisfies your curiosity and remember, if you’d like to book an appointment you can click the ‘schedule now’ button which will lead you to a page that shows you my openings and lets you pick whichever works best for you. If you need something sooner than what you see available online or if you’d like to come in at a time that you don’t normally see available on the schedule please call or email me and I’ll do whatever I can.
There’s no picture for step #1 because step #1 is pretty boring. The first thing we do is the first thing every healthcare provider does, ask a ton of questions and get a detailed story regarding whatever it is you’d like to work on. On occasion we may deviate from that standard ‘how, what, when, where, why’ questions in order to make some associations that exist in Chinese Medicine, but not Western Medicine.
After asking questions it’s very common to start by measuring the pelvic tilt on both sides. If someone is experiencing pain on one side of the body and not the other there is almost certainly some degree of asymmetry in the hips. If I can correct the asymmetry in the foundation of your posture (the hips and low back) many other problems will resolve themselves. Some practitioners will use their fingers or eyes to “guesstimate” the angle of the pelvic tilt, I actually have a tool that gives me a specific measurement in degrees. I’ve learned through experience that my eyes don’t always tell me the truth.
Depending on what we’re treating and what I find with the hip assessment I may put you in front of the postural alignment grid to help us dig a little deeper into your postural asymmetries. Adam is coming in for pain in the left knee and if you look carefully here you can see his left shoulder is higher than his right. What did his hips show? Sometimes the hips are high on the same side that the shoulder is high, sometimes it’s just the opposite, that’s why we measure!
It’s unlikely that I get to a functional overhead squat assessment on the first treatment, but if I’m not finding much after measuring the hip tilt and looking at the posture in a static position I may challenge your body by doing a dynamic movement to see if we can tease out any hidden muscular imbalances. Often times the strategy is to analyze the static posture and after we correct what we see at this level we add dynamic movements to see if there are still functional discrepancies on a deeper level.
The Static and Dynamic assessments should give me several clues as to which muscles are firing and which muscles are not, but it’s still prudent to test the individual muscles to see what they will do. While I’m at it I’ll also run you through the basic orthopedic tests that any physical therapist or orthopod might use. So we first get the history, then we look at how you carry your weight without movement, then how that changes with movement, now we’re digging into the most specific minutia of exactly which muscles fire and which muscles don’t and/or which tissue is damaged.
At this point we have enough information to give a very informed and comprehensive acupuncture treatment. Not only can we focus exactly on the damaged target tissue to help bring down inflammation and promote healing we can also stimulate specific muscles to bring your posture and your dynamic movements back into a more harmonious and well-functioning alignment. Think of your joints as the tires on your car and the muscles as the suspension. If the suspension is all out of whack the tires are going to wear out quickly.
This is just to give an idea of what a basic acupuncture treatment may look like. In this picture we’re stimulating Vastus Medialis, Vastus Lateralis, Anterior Tibialis, and two traditional acupuncture points for the knee to help with any inflammation around the menisci or the joint capsule. Of course the points are modified to each patients’ specific needs. And no, it doesn’t really hurt, you may feel nothing, or you may get a mild dull or achy sensation.
Okay, before we get to the last slide there are some very important things that are missing here. We didn’t do this during Adam’s treatment so I wasn’t able to take any pictures to share with you, but right after acupuncture I will almost always do some combination of stretching, soft tissue work, kinesiotaping, or ‘other’. The stretching is a very specific form of stretching called PNF stretching, the soft tissue work is not your 20-30 minute spa style massage, instead think of 10-15 minutes of highly focused and specific work, kinesiotaping may be just kinesiotaping or I may apply an herbal liniment to some gauze and tape the gauze to the affected area, and the ‘other’ could be any of a number of tricks from the world of Athletic Medicine or Chinese Medicine (gua sha, cupping, etc). Much has been written about all of these things, if you’re curious I suggest checking google or sending me an email. I’m always happy to answer questions.
Depending on what we found earlier there’s a good chance you won’t get to go home until I’ve given you a handful of exercises. Many of the postural corrective exercises are descended from the Egoscue method. Although I didn’t study directly at the Egoscue Institute, one of Pete Egoscue’s understudies rented space from my mentor’s practice for years and there was a lot of cross pollination that happened. Aside from postural corrective exercises I may also teach you some of the more traditional exercises for strengthening specific muscle groups or rehabbing a damaged tendon or how to modify your workout, etc.
That’s the basic rundown. For those of you who have never come in, I hope this puts your mind at ease so that you can book that first appointment with confidence. For those that are just curious and left with more questions you can always send me an email and I will do my best to get back to you and give you a complete answer. In explaining these things to you it forces me to think and reflect and continue to grow.
Thanks for visiting San Diego Sports Acupuncture!