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Acupuncture and ROM for Function and Performance

How would Acupuncture help with range of motion in pain conditions?

One of the most popular reasons people seek out Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is for some sort of pain issue.

Pain is something obvious that most people find hard to ignore, it affects our quality of life, how we interact with people and our emotional and mental well being.

But one thing that is often overlooked is how Acupuncture can influence the musculoskeletal system.  And if you think about what happens to people in a pain condition,  it kind of makes sense.

Whenever we have an injury or pain in the body, let’s use lower back pain as an example, then there are 3 x main things that someone experiences:

1: We physically experience pain (sharp or achy) and can identify the location of that pain (more on perception of pain here)

2: An emotional component or stress response to that pain.

3: Our ability to perform certain movements become limited or restricted, as we begin guarding and managing movement to prevent aggravating the pain.

So the interesting thing that can happen, so long as there is no structural damage to the body preventing it, is that when pain decreases, people’s ability to move through ranges of motion increases. This strikes some common ground with the idea of dynamic balance in yin/yang Chinese Medicine theory.

In the clinic, Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture is used to increase blood flow and move the “Qi” (oxygen, vital air or energy). And given that in Chinese Medicine theory, pain is caused by stagnation (blockage), then applying Acupuncture manages pain by unblocking and moving Qi and Blood. If the outcome of that helps the patient  by decreasing levels of pain, then there will be less reason to guard certain movements, leading to increased range of motion.

Just one interesting little footnote.

image Source: Denver Fitness Journal

In Lower Back Pain, the quadratus lumborum muscle can often be associated with restricted range of motion when Flexing or extending from the waist,  because that muscle has origins at the Iliac Crest and attaches to the 12th rib which provides the body with those types of movements. Interestingly, the Quadratus Lumborum Muscle is also located with the Bladder Channel, a meridian network that bares a striking resemblance to the Back Fascia line seen in Tom Myers “Anatomy Trains” book.

Tom Myers – Image: Anatomy Trains

So, going back to pain and range of motion. Range of Motion appears to be directly associated to cause and effect relationships. The cause of pain = the effect of limited range of motion.

And if we use the idea of balance in Yin and Yang theory, more pain equates to less potential for movement. To find more balance in the area of range of motion, we need to decrease pain so that the patient can restore more healthy movement in the body, which returns the body and mind back to a state of balance.

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is a system that assists in restoring balance by moving blood and oxygen and stimulating the bodies own natural physiological processes.

So, if pain is getting in the way and restricting movement patterns, the above principles might be relevant when considering how Acupuncture can benefit range of motion.

If you want to learn more feel free to look at my previous article here, or feel free to get in touch to discuss anything you need help with. For information of our clinic, please visit here

Chad wuest

Acupuncture Practitioner in Hobart

Health and Performance Advocate.


Tom Myers: Back Line:×1024.jpg

Quadratus Lumborum Muscle:

Quadratus Lumborum Functions:

Pain According to Chinese Medicine:

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