Blog » Health and Wellbeing » Sports Stars and Alternative Medicine

Sports Stars and Alternative Medicine

Sportsmen and women will break, strain, pull, twist and tug pretty much every bone or muscle in their body during training and competition, and preventing and managing injury is part of everyday routine for athletes. Some athletes go for the conventional options such as ice baths, physiotherapy and western medicine to treat their strains and sprains, while others take a more holistic approach, employing less traditional and more alternative approaches. Ian Poulter last week instagrammed himself receiving acupuncture feeling like a “pin cushion” as part of his lifestyle and he certainly isn’t the only famous athlete employing more alternative medicine. Acupuncture is a treatment with its history in ancient Chinese medicine, where fine needles are inserted into `trigger points` of the body to promote healing and general well-being. It is based on the scientific evidence showing needles inserted in certain points can stimulate nerves and muscle tissue and is now used in many NHS general practices as a complimentary/alternative medicine. There is some argument as to the effectiveness of acupuncture, but more scientific studies are being done recently, some showing evidence in favour of acupuncture, and some against. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) only recommends thinking about acupuncture for chronic lower back pain, migraines and chronic tension headaches, but it is true to say that acupuncture is gaining popularity as a form of alternative or complimentary medicine. Acupuncture is not the only leading alternative medicine being used by athletes, and recently Floyd Mayweather shared a video of himself in a SubZero recovery tank in the run up to his fight with Manny Pacquiao on the 2nd May. The treatment, called kriotherapy involves exposing the body to temperatures of -200C for 1-3 minutes to aid recovery and decrease soreness after a training session. Therapy like this has also been employed by the Welsh Rugby Union team and other complete sporting nutcases who are able to train up to 3 times a day due to the low temperatures keeping muscle soreness at bay! More up our street is NBA player Amar’e Stoudemire’s treatment which involves immersing himself in a red wine bath over a period of months to rejuvenate his body by creating more circulation in red blood cells. We’re not entirely convinced by this method and would much prefer to drink the wine rather than waste it having a bath! Stoudemire’s eccentric health regime is nothing compared to a treatment used by Manchester United’s Robin Van Persie however, where he attempted to speed up recovery from an ankle injury by using placental fluid from a horse to massage his ankle...yes placenta... yes horse... yes his ankle... We personally think this method’s a bit LAME, but he was trying to STIRRUP a response, even though the treatment didn’t last FURLONG! So there we are, alternative treatments do exist, from sticking needles into your body to rubbing horse over your affected area and all are endorsed by top level athletes! We won’t be going to try some of these in a hurry, but it’s always useful to know if you’re ever trapped in a field with a sprained ankle and a pregnant horse, there is hope!