• 폰트크기작게
  • 폰트크기크게
  • TTS
  • 단어장
  • 기사스크립
  • SNS
2017-09-04 17:09
By Seung-Hwan Lee, Jimmy Youn

Sports are becoming more competitive every day, and especially, elite athletes are constantly seeking the most effective methods to manage pain and boost performance. Although  personalized Korean medicine therapies may not be too reputable in the sports community, athletes ought to try them.

Athletes may not be aware of Korean medicine therapies, but most of them will acknowledge the purple spots on Michael Phelps’ back and shoulders from the 2012 London Olympic games. The purple spots are from cupping therapy, which is widely used to mobilize blood flow and soothe sore muscles and is one of the valuable therapies from Korean medicine for treating sports injuries.

The following therapies in Korean medicine are also known to be highly effective for sports injuries: acupuncture, moxibustion, Chuna manual therapy, pharmacopuncture, cupping and herbal medicine. Among the list, acupuncture and cupping therapy are known around the world as forms of alternative medicine.  

When it comes to musculoskeletal conditions, athletes seek comprehensive therapies to relieve pain and increase mobility. It is noteworthy that both acute and chronic musculoskeletal disorders are commonly treated by acupuncture, which has been demonstrated in many clinical trials as effective in pain reduction.

Athletes tend to overtrain to survive in the competitive nature of sports. Overtraining, unfortunately, is the culprit to overuse injuries from repetitive physical activities. When overuse injuries continue, actual damage to the bones and soft tissues will occur and lead to more surgery. Hence, periodic Korean medicine treatments can help athletes prevent injuries through the promotion of neurological and cardiovascular balance and homeostasis, and manage pain through stimulating the production of endorphins.                   

A vast number of factors determine the performance of an athlete, and psychological dynamics play the most vital role in competitive sports. The competitive nature of sports creates stressors, such as demands by coaches, decreased self-confidence, fear of losing, nervousness and anxiety. The stressors negatively impact athletes through increased heart and respiration rates, muscle tension and fatigue. Korean medicine and other Eastern therapies have been proven to help people focus and relax; that said, Korean medicine will break an athlete’s psychological barriers while providing the athlete the ability to respond to the emotional demands of competitive sports.

There has been a growing use of Korean medicine therapies in sports medicine; it is estimated that 3,000 American physicians have integrated acupuncture into their practice to treat sports injuries in a more effective way.

Even though there is still a lack of clear evidence on the effectiveness of Korean medicine in treating sports injuries and enhancing physical performance, numerous elite Korean athletes are currently using Korean medicine therapies to treat both acute and chronic sports injuries with a more natural approach. Most importantly, achieving excellent effects is not the mere reason that athletes are attracted to Korean medicine. Korean medicine is not currently classified as a doping mechanism, and it has relatively fewer and minor side effects compared to other therapies. Thus, Korean medicine is optimal for sports medicine on and off the field.


Dr. Lee Seung-Hwan,  the chief Korean medicine physician at Tong-In Korean Medicine Clinic, can be contacted at wooricare@naver.com. Jimmy Youn, the CEO of James and Co., a sports marketing and management agency, can be reached at james.miller.youn@gmail.com.


  • 폰트크기작게
  • 폰트크기크게
  • TTS
  • 단어장
  • 기사스크립
  • SNS