Athelete's corner

How Acupuncture Can Help Treat Shin Splints

Photo by  Alexander Redl  on  Unsplash

Summertime. It's when runners of all calibers are clocking in more miles and fall marathon training is underway. A common ailment that can take runners off the path is shin splints.

Shin splints cause pain below the knee (along the tibia), on either the front, inner or outer leg, and are often caused by overuse. Acupuncture (and sometimes cupping) can be very effective at treating this condition, relieving pain, and therefore allowing runners to get out and run with ease.

How does acupuncture help?

Acupuncture can help to calm inflammation, relax tightness and heal tired and overused muscles.

In Chinese Medicine, diagnosis and treatment are based on a channel and organ system.  This system runs through the body much like the subway system in NYC. The channel that runs down the outer leg and over the area most affected by shin splints corresponds to the stomach.  It's not uncommon for me to discover that a patient with shin splints also has some imbalance with their digestion (possibly:  bloating, constipation, loose stool). By treating the channel and the organ, we often have success at healing the shin splint, as well as the digestive disorders. This is why some call me a magician!

Tight hip flexors can also be a contributing cause. We see this as congestion in the meridians, and help to relieve this tightness by using points that open up the channel that runs around the waist like a belt allowing the hips to relax.

How long will it take?

I’ve seen chronic pain turn around in as little as a few weeks.

Want Proof?

In 2002, a random controlled trial, acupuncture was found to be more effective than any other combined therapy*.

Source: Acupuncture & Tibial Stress Syndrome [Shin Splints]. Journal of Chinese Medicine 2002 vol 70

Benefits Of Incorporating Acupuncture In Your Pre & Post-Marathon Training Program

Acupuncture has been shown to speed up recovery time in athletes, as well as treat orthopedic issues and internal conditions such as, fatigue, interrupted sleep, and digestive disorders.  Some of the ways in which acupuncture does this is by increasing circulation, decreasing inflammation, and improving quality of sleep. Cupping can also be beneficial. 

Common race training conditions we see and have treated:

  • Fatigue
  • Digestive Problems (by getting ahead of the curve we can make sure there are no hiccups to regularity on race day)
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep Disorders (trouble falling and/or staying asleep)

Common musculoskeletal problems:

    •    Tight, sore or strained muscles
    •    IT Band syndrome and pain
    •    Plantar Fasciitis
    •    Calf tightness
    •    Achilles Tendonitis
    •    Knee pain
    •    Hip pain
    •    Back pain

So, when should you come in for a treatment?

Come in on your rest day, after a short run, or on your cross-training day.  Many people feel very relaxed after a session, so you may not feel like running long distances afterward. 

Contact the office by phone, email, or schedule your first session online.


Fashionable Acupuncture at David Barton Gym


Ready for Calm?

I had the opportunity to partner with David Barton Gym for an event they were doing with Glam & Go, the express styling service they offer at the gym. 

I did my best to compliment the work of the team with fashion-friendly Swarovski crystal ear seeds. As an acupuncturist, I often place these bejeweled, medicinal seeds over a point called Shen Men or "The Gate of Heaven." This popular point helps to calm stress, ease anxiety, increase energy, and improve sleep.

In Chinese Medicine, the ear represents a microsystem of the entire body, with regions and points that correspond to specific organs, systems and emotions. The seeds were traditionally made from Vaccaria seeds, but have been modified over time to include gold, silver, metals and crystals. They are often complimented as jewelry, making them both visually appealing and medically relevant. 

There are many benefits of ear seeds. For starters, they are not needles, so patients can wear them home and leave them in anywhere from a few days to two weeks. In my practice, I like to use them to extend the duration of support between treatments. You can massage the seeds into your ears for convenient symptom relief throughout the day, and they have versatile implications including pain, stress, addiction, and more. 

To get your ear seed game on, contact Molly to set up an acupuncture appointment today!

How Willpower and Follow-Through Affect Your Overall Wellbeing

When one thinks of something, decides on it, and then acts on it, this is called willpower (zhi).”    - Zhang Jiebin

Winter is the time of year when many people lose their motivation. The days become shorter, the weather gets colder, and finding that extra motivation can be a challenge. 

Whether you’ve set a resolution and are beginning to waiver from it, or are looking for new motivation to complete lingering goals, take a few minutes to understand how follow-through and completion can impact your physical and emotional wellbeing.   

In Chinese medicine, we correlate organs with their respective seasons. Winter is the season related to the kidneys. The kidneys are the root of yin and yang, which are the essential forces necessary to maintain a balanced life. In a spiritual sense, the Kidneys also correspond to zhi, or willpower. Willpower determines whether or not you complete a task, and also carries a component of destiny. When your actions are aligned with your life's purpose, zhi comes easily. When you place yourself in situations that do not serve you, zhi presents obstacles to steer you back on track. The kidneys represent this guiding light, giving you the power you need to become your best self. By cultivating zhi and being true to your word, the kidneys become stronger as well.

I often explain to patients that the kidneys are like your savings account. It’s always best to leave what you have in your savings account and spend only from your checking.  Every time we make a conscious choice to invest in the things we love, our savings account grows. We do this by keeping our emotions in check, doing the necessary life work to eliminate our fears, eating kidney nourishing foods*, and setting obtainable goals. Set yourself up for success by completing small tasks; then stretch yourself out of your comfort zone one day at a time. Throughout the process, always remember to acknowledge your achievements and enjoy the journey. 

Every season brings different opportunities for growth. In the winter, we seek to nourish our kidney yin and yang, take extra time for self-care, and slow down from the hustle of life. By needling specific points, acupuncture can amplify the kidneys' power and therefore provide clarity around any life changes or goals. Through acupuncture, herbs, and dietary education, Chinese Medicine naturally supports the kidneys, provides balance to the overall yin and yang of the body, and cultivates essential zhi.

*Examples of foods that nourish the kidneys: cloves, ginger, cinnamon bark, quinoa, chicken, lamb, trout, salmon, millet, barley, most types of beans, & spirulina 

Goji Berries Goodness & How To Eat Them Properly

For the past few years goji berries have gained popularity as a superfood.  They can be found at nearly any grocery store now.

Most people use them as a topping - I don't know about you but the first time I had a dried goji berry I was unimpressed with the hardly chewable texture.  It was in my first term of grad school that a classmate passed around a jar of hard, dried goji berries. I tried one and wished I hadn't.  Shortly thereafter I learned how to prepare and eat them properly-- like an herbalist, and now I love them. 

Take a small handful- roughly ten berries and put them in a shallow pot of water, just enough to cover the berries.  Bring the water to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Keep the liquid! To gain the full benefit of goji berries pour both the berries and the liquid into your oatmeal, smoothie, etc.  What are goji berries good for? Nourishing yin, and blood- helping with vision, nourishing a dry cough.  If you have a sensitive stomach consider eating goji in moderation as they can be hard to digest- 1-2 times a week at most.