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Female legs with steel needles during procedure of acupuncture to the leg


As we approach acupuncture week 2019, we explore how it can help with running, especially while training for the London marathon!

Derived from Chinese medicine, acupuncture is intended to improve blood flow and stimulate healing. Unlike its original philosophy (yin and yang balance), western/modern medicine claims that acupuncture works by releasing the body’s natural chemicals.
Whichever metaphysic you choose to believe, thousands of people in the UK each year use acupuncture to aid mobility and reduce pain, regardless of the the controversial science of how it actually works.

How is acupuncture done?

Extremely thin disposable needles are inserted into specific places on the body based on your condition. Once the needles are in place, they may be left in position for a length of time. This can vary, again depending on your condition. Your practitioner may rotate the needles or stimulate them with a mild electric current (not as scary as it sounds).
Your acupuncture practitioner will be able to go through all of this when they do your initial assessment. Your assessment will also involve questions on your general health, medical history and a physical examination.

How can acupuncture for runners help?

Acupuncture is credited for increasing oxygen levels, restoring natural balance and aiding recovery. More importantly it can reduce pain and inflammation.

If you have ever competed in a UK race or even been a spectator, you will notice at the end of any length race osteopaths and massage therapists await for you to collapse over the finish line, ready to rub you down and get that oxygen running through your muscles.
In Japan, it’s a much different sight that awaits the runners. Acupuncture practitioners line up willing and able to “stick it” to you.

While standard massage treatments stimulate the surface muscle only, acupuncture allows treatment of deeper muscle tissue, making it a more effective and direct method of recovery.

As well as the recovery benefits, acupuncture’s greatest potential may come in injury prevention.
It is said that frequent treatments can improve muscle fibre mobility, improve flexibility and improve chronic running-related stresses in areas such as the knees, hips and back.

Am I suited to acupuncture treatment?

There are some cases where acupuncture is just not suitable for you. For example if you have a bleeding disorder or you’re pregnant you should not only consult your doctor first, but you should also let your acupuncture practitioner know of your condition.


Other conditions you should mention in your initial assessment are –


  • Metal allergies
  • Patients with immune disorders
  • Bleeding disorders, anticoagulant use
  • Heart valve disease
  • Skin disorders at the needle site
  • Infections at the needle site
  • People with pacemakers (electric stimulation or electro acupuncture treatments)

Patients who are unwilling or afraid of needles are also advised against treatment.

What other benefits as a runner can I get from acupuncture?

Acupuncture treatment is used for all sorts of musculoskeletal conditions as well as post-operative pain, chronic tension-type headaches and migraines.

Clinical studies have also shown that acupuncture has also been an effective treatment for the following diseases, symptoms or conditions:

  • Hypotension
  • Induction of labor
  • Knee pain
  • Renal colic
  • Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
  • Biliary colic
  • Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
  • Dysentery, acute bacillary
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sciatica
  • Sprains
  • Stroke
  • Tennis elbow
  • Neck pain
  • Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction)
  • Periarthritis of shoulder
  • Low back pain
  • Malposition of fetus, correction
  • Morning sickness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dysmenorrhoea
  • Epigastralgia, acute
  • Facial pain
  • Fertility

Are there any side effects of acupuncture?

Acupuncture is generally very safe, however some people experience mild, short-lived side effects such as –

  • Drowsiness
  • Feeling sick
  • Feeling dizzy or faint
  • Bleeding or bruising where the needles puncture the skin

Finding a Respected Specialist

If your going for gold at this year’s London Marathon or just want to explore new treatments to rid you of those debilitating migraines, Freedom clinics have specialists based here in London’s Canary Wharf.
For a limited time only, we are now offering a FREE consultation with one of our qualified acupuncturists. Morning and afternoon appointments available. Book your appointment here or call the number below.

0203 197 9100

For more handy hints and treatments, to get yourself ready for this years marathon, click here.