Kurrajong Natural Medicine Centre

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Sports Related Injuries - A Chinese Medicine Perspective

What is a Sports Related Injury?

Sports related injuries are injuries that typically occur while participating in organised sports, competitions, training sessions, or organised fitness activities. Most sports injuries are due to either trauma or overuse of muscles or joints. The majority are caused by minor trauma involving muscles, ligaments, tendons, or bones, including: Contusions (bruises), Sprains and Strains. In addition dislocation and fractures may occur, but are beyond the scope of this article.

The injuries are of two general types. The first type is called an acute traumatic injury. These injuries usually involve a single blow from a single application of force, like getting a cross-body block in football. The second type of sports injury is called an overuse or chronic injury. Chronic injuries are those that happen over a period of time and are usually the result of repetitive training, such as running, overhand throwing, or serving a ball in tennis, as some examples. 

Sports Related Injuries - A Chinese Medicine Perspective

How Does Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) view Sports Related Injuries

Chinese medicine views Sports injuries as trauma causing stagnation of Qi and Blood in the channels and collaterals of the area that is injured. It is categorised as part of the ‘Painful Obstructive Syndrome’. Sports injuries may also cause significant susceptibility in developing osteoarthritis without adequate treatment and rehabilitation.

Sport related injury may be either acute or chronic. In either case there is obstruction of qi and blood in the local channels and collaterals. Depending on the area injured and the recency of injury, different acupuncture treatment strategies are employed.

Research shows that acupuncture is an effective form of treatment for sport related injuries, irrespective of whether they are acute or chronic [1,2,3,4].

At Kurrajong Natural Medicine Centre our highly qualified and experienced team of practitioners are happy to develop a personalised treatment programme with you. Simply call (02)4573 0784

What You Can Do to Help Yourself

Prevention of injury is the best form for helping yourself.

Warm Up
Always warm up before exercise. For example, 3-10 minutes of slow walking or jogging, easy cycling, or light weights help to increase blood flow to the major muscle groups and increase your metabolic rate to prepare your body for a higher intensity activity.

Cool Down
After exercising, cool down. Decrease the intensity of your exercise and continue to move for 5 more minutes, then do slow, static stretches for 5-10 minutes. Cooling down helps your body adjust by allowing a proper decrease in heart rate and blood pressure, prevents blood from pooling in your legs, and promotes the removal of lactic acid to aid in decreasing muscular soreness, common after a moderate to high-intensity workout.

Stretch Slowly and Gently
Never bounce, and stop short of pain. Inhale and exhale regularly while stretching. Hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds. Learn Proper Exercise Techniques Join an instructional class or take private lessons, or utilise the guidance of a certified personal trainer.


If you are tired or have had insufficient sleep, cut down on the duration or intensity of exercise. Also, give your body adequate time to recover from exercise, ideally 24 to 48 hours.

In case of injury, follow the suggestions below on immediate treatment for sprains, strains and joint injuries, to prevent further damage include:

  • Rest – keep the injured area supported and avoid using for 48-72 hours.
  • Ice – apply ice to the injured area for 20 minutes every two hours for the first 48-72 hours.
  • Compression – apply a firm elastic bandage over the area, extending above and below the painful site.
  • Elevation – raise the injured area above the level of the heart at all times.
  • Referral – as soon as possible, see a healthcare professional.
  • No Heat – heat will increase bleeding.
  • No Alcohol – alcohol increases bleeding and swelling.
  • No Running – running or exercise increases blood flow, delaying healing.
  • No Massage – massage increases swelling and bleeding, also delaying healing.


  1. Lee, J. W., Lee, J. H., & Kim, S. Y. (2020). Use of Acupuncture for the Treatment of Sports-Related Injuries in Athletes: A Systematic Review of Case Reports. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(21), 8226. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17218226 

  2. Cox, J., Varatharajan, S., Côté, P., & Optima Collaboration (2016). Effectiveness of Acupuncture Therapies to Manage Musculoskeletal Disorders of the Extremities: A Systematic Review. The Journal of orthopaedic and sports physical therapy, 46(6), 409–429. https://doi.org/10.2519/jospt.2016.6270

  3. Lee, J. W., Lee, J. H., & Kim, S. Y. (2020). Use of Acupuncture for the Treatment of Sports-Related Injuries in Athletes: A Systematic Review of Case Reports. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(21), 8226. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17218226 

  4. Shin, J. C., Kim, J. H., Nam, D., Park, G. C., & Lee, J. S. (2020). Add-on effect of kinesiotape in patients with acute lateral ankle sprain: a randomized controlled trial. Trials, 21(1), 176. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-020-4111-z

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Page last updated: 26th June 2023

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