With a history that dates back over thousands of years, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has continued to evolve through modern adaptation. It is an ancient system of healthcare practice that focuses on holistic, natural treatments to cure ailments and pain. As Eastern medical practices continue to make their way towards the Western world, the application of TCM is now more prevalent than ever. One of the main advantages of traditional Chinese medicine is that it provides a high degree of patient compliance thanks to the immediate improvements patients experience.

More and more people are starting to recognize the benefits of TCM, especially in the world of sports and athletics. Physical therapists are beginning to incorporate alternative healing methods such as acupuncture, cupping, and herbal medicine to boost the recovery of their athletes from injury. A sports hernia is one of the most common injuries athletes face, and traditional Chinese medicine does a great job of managing pain and reducing inflammation.

Before we discuss how sports hernias are treated with TCM, it’s important to define what a sports hernia is.

What is a sports hernia?

Sports Hernias Are Treated With Chinese Medicine

A sports hernia is an injury that happens when the body experiences intense twisting motions and sudden changes of direction. A sports hernia causes severe groin pain where soft tissue has been strained or torn. This injury is often found in athletes who play competitive sports like rugby, soccer, hurdling, and running.

There is a difference between a sports hernia and a conventional hernia. A traditional hernia happens when the tearing of soft tissue is caused by an organ that squeezes through weak connective muscle tissues called fascia. Common with hernias is a visible bump due to the organs pushing through.

How Sports Hernias Are Treated With Chinese Medicine

A typical recovery period for a sports hernia is usually around 4 to 6 weeks. Athletes generally undergo physical therapy to improve flexibility and strength within the groin area. One way physical therapists accelerate their athletes’ recovery is by using TCM. Alternative healing methods are used to help repair damaged tissues. When combined with physical therapy, the benefits of traditional Chinese medicine are enhanced, and athletes can recover much faster from their injuries.

By combining the physiological benefits of acupuncture and cupping, pain is reduced naturally, and the inflammation decreases significantly. TCM is famous for taking advantage of the healing properties of herbs such as balms and salves, which are used to massage the body for better blood circulation and body function. Here we’ll be taking a look at how these alternative healing methods work in treating athletes with sports hernias.

Acupuncture treatment of sports hernias

Acupuncture is a popular form of alternative medicine that works as an effective pain reliever. It involves inserting thin needles into specific points of the body to help fuel recovery speeds in injured athletes. According to the Chinese, they believe that the body is a web of interconnected parts. By target specific body parts with thin needles, the flow of energy within the body (which they call chi) is modified, and the patient’s healing mechanisms are amplified.

Soft tissue damage, muscle sprains, and body pain are treated with acupuncture, especially in athletes who suffer from sports hernias. Acupuncture also helps increase athletic performance by correcting muscle imbalances. When thin needles are inserted into specific motor points located in your body, myofascial tissues are released. This helps provide integral bone support as well as restoring motion within your muscle tissues.

Acupuncture treatment also translates to quality sleep which helps fuel the recovery process of injured athletes by helping increase nighttime melatonin production.

Cupping therapy – Sports Hernia

cupping therapy

Along with acupuncture, cupping therapy is also used by physical therapists to facilitate the recovery of injured athletes. Cupping therapy is done by placing suction cups throughout your body to help promote blood circulation. Cupping is used to treat many sports-related conditions such as shoulder pain, back pain, and neck pain. When blood flow is increased, waste products from the body’s muscle tissues are expelled, and vital oxygens and nutrients enter your bloodstream.

Perhaps you’ve seen swimmers or runners with huge circle marks around their bodies. This is because cupping therapy reduces chronic pain associated with intense athletic activities by offering deep-tissue massage. Physical therapists use cupping therapy for better recovery from fatigue and soft tissue damage.

Healing properties of herbal medicines – Sports Hernia

Traditional Chinese medicine is known for using plants and herbs to promote healing within the human body. The healing properties of herbal medicines offer therapeutic benefits when used with physiological therapy, helping injured athletes recover much faster. Thousands of different herb extracts are used by TCM practitioners to combat fatigue, manage stress levels, and chronic pain.

The goal of herbal medicine use is to bring the body into a state of homeostasis by maintaining an equilibrium of healthy functioning organs and muscles. Chinese herbal medicines are often used as a supplement for additional treatment to help increase rehabilitation speeds and promote faster overall healing.


The use of traditional Chinese medicine has been increasing in popularity as Western countries continue to adapt to this healthcare principle. The holistic approach of TCM in the human body makes it a great compliment alongside physiotherapy to help athletes recover from injuries like sports hernias. TCM provides many health benefits that everyone can take advantage of to help improve overall health and well-being.


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