It may well be that runners are especially susceptible to acupuncture therapy. Why? “Because they really want to heal themselves,” explained Dr. Matt Maneggia, a licensed acupuncturist at Connecticut Family Acupuncture in a recent phone interview. “We treat a lot of runners, and they tend to be excellent patients because they are motivated to get back to running.”
No surprise there; but let’s back up a bit and talk about the basics of acupuncture.
What Is It?
Acupuncture is a complementary medical practice that entails stimulating certain points on the body, most often by way of a needle penetrating the skin, to alleviate pain or to help treat various health conditions.
Why Should Runners Try It?
Acupuncture can have healing effects on sore muscles after a race and can help heal injuries.
Elite runners Deena Kastor and Shannon Rowbury have been using the technique for years–and Dr. Maneggia understands why. “Acupuncture works for a myriad of running-related injuries because the needles produce large quantities of anti-inflammatories, something your body produces naturally,” he said. “Acupuncture also stimulates blood flow to the affected area. It’s basically quality and quantity, and acupuncture improves the quality of the blood and the quantity in the area, which ultimately leads to healing.”
Most patients start in Maneggia’s care by doing one session of acupuncture per week for one hour at a time. “We schedule an hour, but the time on the table is usually about 30 minutes,” he explained. Recovery time depends on the individual and the severity of the injury; however, according to Maneggia, “Patients see improvement in three to six treatments on average. Acupuncture is very effective for pain of any kind.”
How Can Runners Find Licensed Acupuncturists?
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine is the most comprehensive list of licensed and certified acupuncturists for states other than California. Use the “Find a Practitioner” section, click on “Acupuncture” and enter a distance for your chosen zip code.
If you live in California, finding an acupuncturist is a little tricker, but still navigable. There is a separate link for the California State Acupuncture Board that regulates acupuncturists in the golden state. Unfortunately, it does not list contact information. You can use this other database to determine if the licensee is in good standing with the state or if they have been subject to any disciplinary action. Enter the city or county in which you are looking to find a licensed acupuncturist. Once you find one you’re interested in contacting, you can use this service link to get their contact information.
Let the healing begin!