If you’re an athlete, you know that acupuncture can be an invaluable tool. Regular sessions improve flexibility and increase your range of motion. Acupuncture also treats musculoskeletal imbalances, allowing you to move your body synergistically so you can avoid injury. Overall, acupuncture is a great way to relax your muscles after an intense training session at the gym. But what if you plan on working out after your acupuncture appointment? Can you exercise after acupuncture?
In general, it’s perfectly safe to exercise after an acupuncture session. In some cases, exercise can actually enhance the effects of acupuncture. However, if you’ve recently suffered an injury, your acupuncturist may advise you to refrain from intense exercise to give your body time to heal.
When is it safe to exercise after acupuncture?
If you aren’t suffering from an injury, and you’re just using acupuncture as a supportive measure to keep your muscles limber and flexible, then once you leave your session, you’re good to go. You can hit the gym or go for a run in the park without a second thought. Acupuncture releases muscle tension, stimulates blood flow, and encourages healthy musculoskeletal function. In many cases, exercising after an acupuncture session can make the treatment more effective by stretching and flexing the muscles that were worked on.
In some cases, your acupuncturist may recommend certain exercises after your session. If your acupuncturist detects any musculoskeletal imbalances during your session, they may ask you to perform exercises that focus on one group of muscles to help restore balance. Pilates and yoga are great for stretching the muscles before exercise and may enhance the effects of acupuncture, so your acupuncturist may ask you to try them as well.
Of course, it goes without saying that you should always take the time to warm up your muscles before exercise, whether you’ve recently had acupuncture or not. Stretching your muscles before working out keeps them primed during your workout, and cooling down at the end of your session will help prevent them from locking up later on, once you resume your normal activities.
Does acupuncture support the effects of exercise?
In many cases, acupuncture can enhance the effects of exercise. One of the reasons that it’s able to do this is that it helps alleviate inflammation. Whether you’re struggling with generalized pain, like neck pain and hip pain, or something more specific, like golfer’s elbow, acupuncture can help you use your muscles more comfortably by improving circulation and flexibility.
Another huge benefit of using acupuncture is that it triggers the release of endorphins. These natural chemicals are produced by the pituitary gland located at the base of the brain. Endorphins block the transmission of pain and promote a sense of well-being. Interestingly, endorphins are thought to be responsible for the sensation known as “runner’s high”.
Acupuncture mitigates the damaging effects of stress as well — both physical and mental. Regular acupuncture sessions can help reduce anxiety and fight against oxidative stress. When your muscles are constantly tensed, you’re more likely to get hurt. Acupuncture encourages your muscles to relax and stay loose. This allows you to use your muscles properly, reducing your chances of getting sustaining an injury.
When should you avoid exercising after acupuncture?
If you’re a healthy individual with no underlying musculoskeletal imbalances, you can exercise after acupuncture. But, if you’re struggling with an injury, whether it’s chronic or acute, you should talk to your acupuncturist about your workout schedule before engaging in physical activity, just to be safe.
In some instances, it’s important to rest after an acupuncture session to give your muscles plenty of time to recharge. This is especially true for muscles that have become overstimulated. If you’ve been treated for a muscle knot or frozen shoulder, your acupuncturist may recommend that you rest for a certain period of time to give the muscles a chance to recover.
Your acupuncturist may also ask you to avoid exercise for a brief time if they discover multiple musculoskeletal imbalances during your acupuncture session. We tend to think of acupuncture as being a gentle, soothing therapy. And, in many ways, it is. But because it improves the flow of energy, its effects can be quite powerful. In cases where aggressive acupuncture treatment is needed, it’s important to give your body a chance to recuperate before resuming exercise.
Do you have to exercise after getting acupuncture?
While there are many instances in which you can exercise after acupuncture, there is no rule saying that you have to exercise after acupuncture. In certain cases, exercise can prove to be beneficial when performed immediately after acupuncture, and these exercises can enhance the effects of the treatment. But they’re always optional. So if you’re unable to make it to the gym or simply don’t feel like hopping on the treadmill the minute you get home, there’s no reason to worry. Acupuncture has a variety of benefits to offer, and you can still enjoy those benefits even if you don’t work out following your appointment.
Remember to listen to your body
If you’re still not sure whether or not you should engage in exercise after your acupuncture appointment, ask your acupuncturist what they think. They will have a clearer understanding of your musculoskeletal imbalances and can address your concerns to give you peace of mind. They may also be able to recommend specific exercises that will help you recover more quickly.
It’s important to remember to listen to your body. If you’re feeling tired or your muscles are fatigued after your acupuncture appointment, take a day (or more) off. Releasing built-up tension can be soothing, but your muscles have to remember how to relax again. And that can be tougher than it sounds, especially if they’ve been carrying a lot of tension for a long time.
Acupuncture is a powerful natural treatment that can support your health and wellness from the outside in. At Lycoming Orthopedics & Sports Acupuncture, we are happy to answer all of your questions and create an alternative treatment plan that works for you. Contact our offices for a consultation today and discover the amazing benefits that acupuncture can offer you.