Muscle soreness is one of the many common symptoms that can be successfully treated by acupuncture, even when the usual procedures such as massage, stretching exercises, or manipulation have had no effect. A sore muscle becomes inflamed, shortened and weak and this can lead to tendonitis or abnormal bone growth. Early treatment right after exercise is necessary and very effective for preventing injury of muscle and soft tissues. I combine acupuncture with a system of Integrative Systemic needling developed by Dr. Yun-tao Ma, an expert of sports medicine with 40 years of clinical acupuncture practice.
Soreness that develops during exercise or immediately afterwards, should be treated to prevent it lasting for weeks. Muscle soreness that is not felt until a day or two after heavy exercise is referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness and results from damage to the muscle fibres. Dr. Ma has found that sore muscles are those that are already more sensitive to needling; those muscles which are not sensitive to needling don’t tend to develop soreness. In this way, needling becomes a diagnostic tool to seek out vulnerable muscles.
Muscle energy stores are depleted in such sore, damaged muscles, as this energy is redistributed to rebuild muscle tissue. Research has shown that this energy (glycogen) gradually stops being produced for storage 6 to 12 hours after exercise as the muscle undergoes repair. The fuel-storing capacity of this muscle is reduced and as a consequence this makes it weak and muscle retraining may be needed. Functionality returns gradually over days or weeks. If an athlete with muscles soreness receives systemic acupuncture needling immediately or within 1 day after the exercise or competition, the soreness symptoms are greatly reduced or even not felt by the athlete.