Written By: Pamela Buhr R. Ac, B. Sc
Marathon training is a hot topic this time of year, so I thought I would share my experience with running and Acupuncture. When I trained for my first half marathon, I did it in an accelerated time frame. My friend Ian wanted a running buddy, and convinced me to join him in in Las Vegas to run in the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon. In the moment, it sounded like fun. Feeling inspired and up for a challenge, I agreed even though I had only 12 weeks to train. Typically, a half marathon training program for a person with my running experience would be 16-18 weeks. I was no stranger to the thought "what the heck I am I doing"??
My training kick-off looked like this: I bought a new pair of running shoes, joined a running clinic, and collected some excellent advice for where to begin. I then modified my existing running plan, and spent some time cross-training in between run days. Even with all those things going for me though, the one thing I attribute most to my success was the weekly acupuncture treatments I received during my training. I swear my legs were fortified, my body was more balanced, and for my entire training period I remained injury free!
How does Acupuncture assist runners in improving their performance and preventing injury? Acupuncture accelerates healing by decreasing inflammation and increasing blood flow to an injury. So it therefore can also be used even before an injury presents, to ensure more suppleness to tight and overworked muscles, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue. At some point or another (no matter how much foam rolling!), every runner will be experience these during training.
Runner’s injuries can also come from the repetitive stress that is transferred along lines of fascia - a type of connective tissue that is like a web under the skin connecting with organs and tissues of the entire body. Since connective tissues have a much lower blood supply than muscles, they are more susceptible to overload and strain. You can see then how using Acupuncture to enhance blood flow to these structures as well, will allow your body to remain more flexible as you train.
Say good-bye to tightening, twisting, and scar tissue build-up, and hello to better blood flow leading to healthier tendons, and overall being a better runner!
When the marathon finally arrived, I took my needles to Las Vegas and gave myself and Ian a pre-race treatment the night before the big race. This was so valuable to our performance! There we were on race day waiting impatiently in the starting area. It was a windy, gusty night on the strip of Las Vegas, but our legs were energized and ready to run - we both felt like we had a secret edge! Two hours later for Ian, and 2.48 hours for me, we crossed the finish line and smiled for the cameras. Not too bad for a 'newbie'!
After it was all said and done, Ian and I still both couldn't believe how much energy we had in our legs the night before, and during the race. Ian still boasts of this experience, and uses acupuncture in his further training to this day. If you are an experienced runner or a beginner like me, you can use Acupuncture as a secret weapon in your training. And it's totally legal!
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