Acupuncture is one of the oldest techniques of sports medicine. From its beginnings more than 2500 years ago, traditional Chinese acupuncture was an indispensable part of Chinese martial arts. All the martial arts masters were also masters of acupuncture, and they used acupuncture to treat injuries incurred in the practice of martial arts. Contemporary ISDN is not the same as traditional acupuncture. The cornerstone of Chinese acupuncture, which has guided clinical acupuncturists for at least 2500 years with remarkable efficacy, is the so-called meridian theory: the theory that energy flows through pathways, or meridians, in the body. Careful research has shown that the notion of meridians is in fact invented, though it is derived from a combination of physiologic and anatomic features of the nervous, cardiovascular, endocrine, and immune systems. Although ISDN originated in traditional Chinese methods, it has developed from the ancient empirical approach to become a modern medical art rooted in evidence-based thinking and practice.
ISDN combines the essence of many different disciplines: anatomy, physiology, physics, kinesiology, physical therapy, neuroscience, trigger-point technique, and clinical experience, in addition to reflecting the results of both basic research and specialized research in the field of sports medicine. It is different from trigger-point therapy in that it encompasses a systemic approach for restoring homeostasis in local tissues and in the entire muscu-loskeletal system, whereas trigger-point techniques focus primarily on the local pathologic processes in soft tissue.
Traditional Chinese acupuncture was the major medical modality at the time of its ancient beginnings, and since then it has been gradually replaced in Chinese societies by herbal medicine, although it has persisted as a minor modality. Modern Chinese acupuncture is now quite different from what it was originally, just as modern needles are different from those that were used in the past. The human body and its diseases today are different from those of as little as 200 years ago: life expectancy is longer, and the spectrum of diseases is different. In the 1940s, the American medical doctor Janet Travell developed trigger-point medicine without any knowledge of Chinese acupuncture. She was intrigued to observe later that many of her discoveries about trigger points were already put into practice in Chinese acupuncture.
After practicing needling therapy since the 1970s, I now face new challenges with my athlete patients, both professionals and nonprofessionals. Nonathletes, for example, seek medical attention primarily for pain relief, but athletes, in addition to seeking pain relief, expect medical professionals to restore their physical function and performance capability. Since the early 2000s, this need has excited and motivated me to work with athletes and develop needling techniques for sports medicine. I extend my sincere gratitude to all the athletes and coaches with whom I have worked.
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