What Is Sports Acupuncture?

by Matt Callison, LAc |

What Is Sports Acupuncture?

Western medicine focuses mainly on the injury or illness, whereas Traditional Chinese Medicine focuses on the whole person. So when it comes to sports injuries, Sports Medicine Acupuncture®️ looks at the "whole person" to help treat the injury. This unique modality is how Traditional Chinese Medicine augments and enhances the effect of Western sports medicine. Blending Eastern and Western modalities to treat sports injury was the brainchild of Matt Callison LAc over 25 years ago and continues to evolve today. 

What is Sports Medicine Acupuncture®️ (SMA)?

Using his interest in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a foundation, Callison saw an opportunity to take the best of both Eastern and Western therapies to treat the whole person, not just the injury. He developed SMA, which incorporates principles and techniques from traditional Chinese and Western sports medicines to assess and treat the patients’ injuries. This practice integrates assessments such as tongue, pulse, questioning, palpation, orthopedic evaluation test, muscle testing, functional testing and movement patterns. 

Callison’s years of experience in cadaver dissection helped him to broaden and deepen the SMA educational program, developing advanced needle techniques. The concept, refined and honed, gained dedicated followers.  So Callison devised and developed it into the Sports Medicine Acupuncture Certification (SMAC) program.

Acupuncturists, from around the globe, certified in SMAC theory, incorporate SMA to successfully and holistically manage patients and their injuries. From assessment to treatment to rehabilitation to injury prevention, SMA encompasses the whole person. 

What Would a Treatment Plan Involve?

Graduates of SMAC assess injuries through functional anatomy, range of motion testing, orthopedic examinations, manual muscle testing and palpation to identify the injured tissues. Next, they assess postural and concomitant muscle imbalances through static and functional movements, which guide the practitioner to understand how and why the injury occurred. 

The assessments are integrated into the traditional Chinese channel systems (Jing Luo, Jing Jin) to diagnose and treat the excess (Shi) and deficient (Xu) conditions involving the channels and the injured tissue.

Taking the information gleaned from the assessments, acupuncturists develop treatment plans that incorporate acupuncture, Moxibustion, breath work, herbal medicine, myofascial release, structural integration, physical therapy exercises and cupping to treat patients. 

What is Moxibustion ("MOXA")?

MOXA, (Artemisia vulgaris, or mugwort), a healing plant, was burned to promote healing, warmth and longevity in ancient China. Today, this procedure is called Moxibustion. It’s typically used as an adjunct therapy to acupuncture to stimulate the blood and lymphatic system and boost the immune system, which can help injuries heal more quickly.

Moxibustion is a technique of applying heat on specific acupuncture spots on the body by burning herb near to the skin. It can be administered as a small cone applied to acupuncture points and quickly removed. Or it can be placed on top of inserted acupuncture needles. The treatment can either be localized or spread over the entire body.

The Holistic Approach

The holistic approach gives patients the best of all worlds. Because both Western and Chinese sports medicine have unique characteristics, combining them makes sense. Why?  By working with the injury and the individual, practitioners not only help heal the injury, they take it several steps further.

Practitioners learn what is the root cause of the injury and can help patients heal from the cellular level out in a way that encourages balance, which can prevent future injury. 

Over 27 years’ experience in sports medicine, acupuncture and cadaver dissection. Renowned instructor and published author of the Motor Points and Acupuncture Meridians Chart and quintessential texts such as the Motor Point Index (MPI) Reference Guide and Sports Medicine Acupuncture: An Integrated Approach Combining Sports Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Matt Callison’s unique ability to blend Chinese Medicine with Sports Medicine for over 30 years is demonstrated by his excellent reputation. This is particularly evident in his educational program, the “Sports Medicine Acupuncture Certification Program,” which is attended by acupuncturists worldwide. He has over 25 years experience in cadaver dissection that has helped him to further broaden and deepen his educational program for the acupuncturist. Mr. Callison has had a clinical practice for over 30 years and is well known for developing innovative and successful treatment protocols for musculoskeletal injury. He has published many articles including a clinical study on acupuncture and tibial stress syndromes (shin splints) as well as an article on Sports Related Muscle Tension Headaches in the Journal of Chinese Medicine. Furthermore, Mr. Callison is well-known for his work with professional athletes. 

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