Recovering From An Injury With Acupuncture

Introducing acupuncture into your treatment plan could accelerate recovery when injuries strike. This alternative therapy dates back thousands of years and utilizes ultra-thin needles inserted into strategic points on the body to stimulate healing. Most people discover acupuncture after a minor tweak that causes constant pain. Constant pain can slow a person down on a daily, especially while in New York City. Most times, anti-inflammatory medication can only provide minor relief and after a few hours, the pain comes right back. Recovering from a sports injury with acupuncture will have you moving again in no time.

sports injury and acupuncture

How Acupuncture Helps Sports Injuries

Acupuncture is an excellent complement to traditional rehabilitation methods like RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), physical therapy, pain medication and surgery if required. It supports recovery before, during and after more conventional treatments. Here’s just a few things acupuncture can help with when recovering from an injury:

  • Reduces Inflammation – The needles trigger the release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors to reduce swelling and inflammation. This speeds up the healing process.
  • Increases Circulation – Acupuncture boosts blood flow to oxygenate muscles and deliver vital nutrients to the injured area.
  • Relieves Muscle Spasms – It relaxes tightened muscles and releases trigger points that contribute to spasms.
  • Restores Mobility – As pain decreases, range of motion increases, helping regain flexibility.

While outcomes vary, acupuncture often shortens recovery time, allowing you to get back to your activities sooner.

Common Injuries Treated With Acupuncture

If you’re an avid runner, heavy lifter, yoga enthusiast, or just starting your workout routine, injuring yourself is very common. All it takes is one minor move with improper form to cause severe pain. In addition, repetitive movements of a body part often causes overuse; without proper rest, self-care and nutrition, an injury is bound to happen. Here’s some of the most common sports injuries treated with acupuncture.

Achilles Pain
  • Sprains – Stretching or tearing ligaments, often in ankles, knees, or wrists.
  • Strains – Muscle or tendon injuries from overstretching or impact, like hamstring pulls or tennis elbow.
  • Knee injuries – Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, meniscus tears, runner’s knee (patellofemoral pain syndrome).
  • Tennis or golfer’s elbow – Tendon inflammation caused by repetitive motion.
  • Plantar fasciitis -Inflammation of tissue connecting heel bone to toes, causing foot pain.
  • Concussions – Traumatic head injuries that affect brain function.
  • Shin splints – Muscle or stress injuries to the front of the lower leg.
  • Achilles tendinitis – Strained or inflamed Achilles tendon, typically near the heel.
  • Low back pain – Strains, sprains, or disc injuries in the lumbar spine region.

Proper training, technique, protective gear, hydration, nutrition and rest can aid injury prevention. But sports injuries are common, so it’s key to seek prompt treatment for pain or dysfunction. Seeking acupuncture care quickly after sustaining an injury is recommended over postponing therapy, as receiving treatment early can accelerate the healing of the affected area. Recovering from an injury with acupuncture can quickly get you back to health.

Acupuncture Treatment Plan for an Injury

Ankle sprain and acupuncture

Patient: John S., 23 y/o male soccer player with ankle sprain

Main Acupuncture Points to Focus On:

  • LR3 (Taichong) – Important for treating tendons and ligaments, reduces swelling.
  • GB40 (Qiuxu) – Benefits ankle/foot issues, eliminates pain.
  • ST36 (Zusanli) – Heals trauma and swelling, boosts immunity.
  • Ah Shi points – Tender spots around the injured ankle.
  • GB39 (Xuanzhong) – Relieves muscle/joint pain in the ankle.
  • SP6 (Sanyinjiao) – Addresses issues in the lower limbs.

Treatment Plan:

  • Treatments: 3 sessions per week for 2-4 weeks, 12 sessions total
  • Needles: Use 0.20mm x 30mm needles and obtain de qi sensation
  • Retain needles 20-25 minutes with electrical stimulation
  • TDP heat lamp on ankle to improve circulation
  • Also recommend daily rest, ice, compression, elevation in between sessions


  • Decrease pain and swelling
  • Regain full range of motion in ankle
  • Repair damaged ligaments/tendons
  • Prevent recurring injury or instability
  • Strengthen ankle muscles and return to sport activities

Monitor progress each session and adjust acupuncture points accordingly. Recommend exercises to stabilize ankle after swelling fully resolves. Each patient has a different plan, but the same general outcome. Recovering from an injury with acupuncture aims to heal injured tissues naturally.

Foods to Help Recover From a Sports Injury

Proper nutrition plays a key role in recovery from sports injuries. Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods after sustaining an injury provides the body with essential vitamins, minerals, and compounds to help reduce swelling and pain, repair damaged tissue, and speed overall healing. Here are some beneficial foods to aid in recovery from sports injuries:

Foods for sports injury
  • Wild Salmon – High in anti-inflammatory omega-3s to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Leafy Greens – Spinach, kale, swiss chard provide vitamin K for bone strength.
  • Berries – Blueberries, cherries, strawberries contain antioxidants that decrease inflammation.
  • Avocados – Healthy fats and nutrients to help absorb antioxidants for healing.
  • Pineapple – Contains bromelain to reduce swelling and bruising.
  • Bone Broth – The collagen helps rebuild damaged tissues and cartilage.
  • Eggs – Protein-rich with vitamin D and zinc for tissue repair.
  • Turmeric – Curcumin has natural pain-relieving properties.
  • Nuts and Seeds – Good sources of magnesium to relax muscles.
  • Fermented Foods – Probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi boost immunity.
  • Beans and Legumes – Plant-based proteins to mend muscle. Try lentils, chickpeas, beans.

A balanced, nutrient-dense diet gives the body the tools it needs to heal strained muscles, damaged ligaments and tendons, bone fractures, and other trauma from sports. Focusing on whole, minimally processed anti-inflammatory foods and avoiding inflammatory triggers can complement acupuncture therapy, rest, ice and other treatments for optimal recovery.

The Best Supplements for Sports Injury

Strategically chosen supplements can complement other treatments to help expedite recovery from sports injuries. Here’s a few that can help heal inflamed tissue:

  • Protein – Whey, casein, and plant-based proteins help rebuild damaged muscle tissue. Aim for 20-30g of protein spread out over the day.
  • Omega-3s – Anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil and flaxseed may ease swelling and pain. 1000-2000mg daily is a typical dosage.
  • Vitamin C – Important for collagen production and tissue repair. Go for at least 500mg daily while injured.
  • Zinc – Helps reduce inflammation and boost immunity. 30mg per day is a standard dose.
  • Turmeric – The curcumin in turmeric provides natural pain relief and reduces swelling. Take 500mg 1-2 times daily.
  • Calcium & Vitamin D – These nutrients promote bone strength when coming back from a stress fracture. 1000mg calcium and 600 IU vitamin D per day.
  • Glucosamine & Chondroitin – Used for joint injuries to boost cartilage repair. Typical dose is 1500mg glucosamine and 1200mg chondroitin.
  • Tart Cherry – Contains anti-inflammatory compounds that may aid muscle recovery. 500mg twice daily is effective for most.

While not replacements for medical care, supplements fill specific nutritional gaps that are vital to healing processes. Under a healthcare practitioner’s guidance, they can be integrated into a treatment plan to provide nutritional support and optimize the body’s ability to bounce back after sports-related trauma.


In conclusion, acupuncture offers athletes and active individuals a drug-free, non-invasive treatment option for a wide array of sports injuries. Study after study confirms acupuncture’s ability to decrease pain, reduce inflammation, improve range of motion, and expedite functionality after injury. The existing evidence indicates acupuncture can enhance conventional rehabilitation methods when tailored to each patient’s unique situation. Pro athletes like Kobe Bryant, Alex Rodriguez and Venus Williams have undergone acupuncture to accelerate recovery from injury without resorting only to surgery or medication. For motivated patients willing to integrate alternative modalities, acupuncture is a promising therapy for managing and overcoming the many physical setbacks that can surface when we push our bodies to the limit through sports and exercise.

***The information on this website is not meant to diagnose or cure any disease. Consult with your healthcare practitioner before using any supplementation. Only receive acupuncture or dry needling from a State License Acupuncturist.***

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