TCM and Sports Injuries: Here are the answers to your most asked questions

Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, has been gaining popularity in recent times as an alternative treatment to sports injuries. Designed to aid recovery of health, TCM includes various forms of acupuncture, herbal medicine, massages (tui na) and dietary therapy.

Curious as to what questions TCM practitioners get asked the most? Guo Feng, a physician and acupuncturist at Ann Yu Li Medical Hall, reveals all.


1. Ice my injury, or warm it?

For a sprained or swollen ankle, should you go hot or cold? The answer: it depends on how much time has passed since you got the injury. For injuries within the first 24 hours, use the RICE method: Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate. If it’s been any longer than that, warm instead to increase circulation and reduce swelling.


2. Are joint supports good for me?

Wrist, elbow, knee and ankle supports are helpful to reduce pressure on your joints. More importantly, they serve as a constant reminder that you shouldn’t be exerting too much force on your joint. Only wear these supports when moving around, though – remove them at night when you’re resting. Also, don’t strap them on too tightly or too loosely. It has to be a snug fit to be effective.


3. Should I be eating differently?

Stay clear of cold food, carbonated drinks and sour food in general. Cold food causes your muscles and blood vessels to contract, increasing the time needed to heal. On the other hand, carbonated drinks and sour food increase the amount of lactic acid produced in the body.


4. Will acupuncture/tuina/cupping help with my injury?

Yes, these are all effective treatment methods for most sports injuries. Take note, though, that cupping only provides  temporary relief. Tuina is more effective for injuries concerning the muscular system.


5. Is there anything I should avoid doing?

Don’t kick or jerk your limbs. You might feel better momentarily, but it’s ultimately detrimental to your recovery. While jerking actions release the pressure around your joints for a second, they don’t help to reduce overall muscle tension. Conversely, they tend to even increase it – causing your joints to grind more against each other and speed up degeneration.


6. How do I avoid injury?

Lots of stretching helps; try holding for over a minute in each position. Pay special attention to the calf and the trapezius since they are the most used muscles for urbanites.


7. Should I massage my injury?

Never massage the localised point of injury or swollen area. Please disregard any TCM drama or movie production that advocates vigorous rubbing of the swollen spot.


Information contributed by Guo Feng.
Look for him at:

Ann Yu Li Medical Hall
374 Bukit Batok St 31 #01-164
148 Potong Pasir Ave 1 #01-51


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