Traditional Chinese Medicine and Workout Recovery

By Terry Fox, L.Ac, RMT

I have to admit that this is my first time to guest on a blog. I am quite honored that Dennis asked me to be a contributor for Core Fitness and Nutrition to write about recovering from workouts with traditional Chinese medicine.

For those of you unfamiliar with me, my expertise is in the field of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). What can TCM offer you on your fitness journey with Core Fitness and Nutrition? Simply this: Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help you recover more quickly from your workouts, prevent and treat injuries, and help you in achieving your fitness goals.

Traditional Chinese medicine can help you recovery from personal training sessions or any workout!The history behind TCM is long and rich. Much of it stems from the martial arts traditions of the Shaolin and Wu Dang schools of Kung Fu. The warriors of Shaolin and Wu Dang were (and still are) extreme athletes with very rigorous training regimens.  Acupuncture protocols and Chinese herbal remedies were developed to help treat their myriad of training injuries and help speed up recovery times.

Currently, there are studies being conducted regarding the effects of acupuncture on athletic performance. One example of a recent study is the “Effects of Acupuncture Stimulation on Recovery Ability of Male Elite Basketball Athletes,” published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine in 2009.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, Qi (the body’s internal energy) and Blood need to circulate smoothly throughout the body in a constant and consistent fashion for optimal wellness. If the circulation is poor, then health problems can occur. Regular, moderate exercise stimulates the movement of Qi and Blood and promotes proper circulation.

Conversely, over-exercising can create exhaustion of Qi and Blood. This will cause other problems to manifest. As red-blooded Americans, we love to do things to the extreme, including exercise. So finding the appropriate balance of exercise is important.

This is why exercises like Tai Chi Chuan and Qi Gong are prevalent in Chinese culture. They are gentle and slow moving, but can also increase heart rate, promote flexibility and strengthen tendons and bone. They offer that balance, yet still give a person quite the physical challenge.

Here’s a beautiful example of Wu Dang Tai Yi Qi Gong:

As we all know, each individual is unique. We all have our own genetic strengths and weaknesses. Depending upon those pre-existing conditions, each body responds to rigorous activity differently. For athletes (and anyone else who exercises hard), the most commonly affected TCM organ systems are the Spleen, the Liver, and the Kidney. In TCM organ theory, the organs may have the same names as those in modern medicine but can vastly differ in function.

The Spleen in TCM is a major contributor in producing Qi and Blood. It also is responsible for giving muscles their strength. However, over-work, worry, and poor dietary habits can injure the Spleen function. When Spleen function is impaired, chronic sluggishness, low energy, fuzzy headedness and muscle weakness can manifest.

The Liver in TCM is responsible for the free flow of Qi in the body. It also promotes the health of tendons and ligaments. However, stress, over-work and “burning the candle at both ends” will weaken the function of the Liver. When Liver function is impaired, chronic anger, migraine headaches and tendon/ligament injuries will become apparent.

The Kidneys in TCM are considered to be the batteries of the body. They store our essential energy. Over-work, fear and a hectic lifestyle will deplete Kidney function. When the Kidneys are depleted, problems like chronic low back pain, knee pain, sexual dysfunction and chronic fatigue will show up.

Acupuncture is another example of traditional Chinese medicine that can help you recover from workouts!Luckily, a Licensed Acupuncturist can help you assess what pre-existing conditions you may have so that any organ dysfunctions can be prevented. If you already suffer from organ dysfunction, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can benefit you. With a proper treatment protocol, including all five branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine—acupuncture, massage therapy, herbal medicine, diet, and exercise—your health and athletic performance can greatly improve.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we strive to treat both the branch and root. To put it another way, TCM treats not only the symptom but also the cause of the problem.

Acupuncture and massage therapy address the body from the outside in, alleviating pain and soreness. Chinese herbal medicine and dietary theory treat the body from the inside out, promoting proper organ function and optimal circulation of Qi and Blood. You will begin to feel more energetic, and be relieved of illness and injury and aim higher in your athletic goals.

If you’re already a paragon of health, Traditional Chinese Medicine can still be of great benefit to you: It adheres to the premise of prevention.

The best practitioner is not the one who treats their sick patients; the best practitioner is the one who teaches their patients how to avoid getting sick in the first place. I prefer to educate my patients so that they can make informed decisions that will promote their longevity. As a licensed acupuncturist and bodywork professional, I want to see my patients vibrant, vital and healthy well into the future.

You’ve made an excellent choice aligning yourself with Core Fitness and Nutrition, and I congratulate you! The knowledge and experience you gain from Dennis and his personal trainers will only advance your cause. However, if you feel like something is holding you back from achieving your fitness goals, it would be my pleasure to put the power of Traditional Chinese Medicine at your service.


Terry Fox, L.Ac, RMT is owner of Artesian Spring Oriental Medicine in Fort Collins, CO. Make an appointment by calling 970-633-0199, or email terry@artesianspringom.com.

This post was written by Terry Fox, L.Ac, RMT. Terry owns Artesian Spring Oriental Medicine right here in Fort Collins. From my experience in working with Terry, he is very passionate and dedicated about helping his clients become healthier through Traditional Chinese Medicine, and I highly recommend his services.

Thanks, Terry! If you have any questions about how Traditional Chinese Medicine can help you, please contact Terry directly, and he will be happy to answer all your questions.

%d bloggers like this: