Adventures in Acupuncture. Sports, Needles, Meridians, Healing, it’ not what you think.

acupuncture foot Unravel TherapeuticsAt the end of the day, when I’m nursing my latest injury, I try to recall why I chose such a physically demanding sport like roller derby. Bruises from the force of hard hits and falls, cuts from the slashing velcro of opponents safety gear, and skin burns from sliding on the sport-court track after a body bash are the everyday norm in my sport. You learn to live with those superficial injuries on a day to day basis, but the chronic pain and constant acute injuries are the ones that tend to nag at you for weeks, sometimes months. Every contact sport has its list of typical injuries; cuts, bruises and sprains, most seem to be similar. No matter what the activity is, it’s important to remember that as long as you want to continue that activity, you must take care of your body with an eye towards the long term.

I started roller derby three years ago on the Big Island of Hawaii and had no idea what I was in for. Like most sports, engaging my core strength was the most important part of being able to balance and move my body, especially on roller skates. Then there is the physical contact of hitting and blocking. Over a short period of time, I began having backpains and aches with soreness, burning sensations and an overall loss of range of motion. I attributed these issues to the fact that I was a beginner on skates and new to the sport of roller derby.

After some time of dealing with the discomfort, I decided to look into a chiropractic treatment. I wasn’t sure if my constant soreness was caused by some imbalance in my structure or the muscle fatigue of learning a new sport. I had this idea that “resetting” my spine, hips and neck would be the solution. Unfortunately, this proved to be a short term solution and hearing my neck crack at high volume was one of the most frightening things to me. Chiropractic treatments while it worked for some was not for me and it became clear that I needed to try other things.

I had a teammate on my Hawaiian roller derby team that was an Acupuncturist and offered her services to us at any time. Now, I do realize the convenience of having that service so accessible, and many of my teammates took her up on her offer, but at the time my fear of needles was just overriding. I can speed skate into a pack of women trying to hit me as hard as they can, but ask me to get a vaccination and I will come up with any excuse to avoid it. Is this fear irrational?, Maybe not but many people struggle with this issue and I can imagine that it prevents a lot of people from trying Acupuncture.

Aichmopobia, fear of needles or trypanophobia, fear of injections are legitimate medical conditions that can have a strong psychological effect on a person. Now, is my fear of needles on that level of severity? No, but I did go to the dentist one time, asked him to skip the Novocaine injections and completed a routine filling. I am completely aware of how outrageous that sounds, but some days I can get past my issue with needles, other days, not so much. What I do know is that many people share these fears and will associate acupuncture needles with these unpleasant thoughts of puncturing the skin.

Stay tuned for the next Acupuncture article where the History of Acupuncture is discussed along with some interesting facts about what Acupuncture needles used to be like. Ouch!

Megan Pachecano