Eastern medicine wins over athletes
Denver practitioner says it speeds recovery, boosts performance
By Jordan Dresser
The Denver Post
POSTED: 08/18/2008 12:30:00 AM MDTADD A COMMENT
With the 2008 Olympic Summer Games underway in Beijing, the practice of traditional Chinese medicine on athletes for pain and improved performance is very much in evidence.
Swimmers have sported telltale cupping marks — they look like giant polka dots — and athletes such as pro basketball player Yao Ming have talked about how traditional medicine has enhanced their abilities and helped them recover.
While Eastern and Western athletes alike have been cautioned about taking herbal treatments that might cause them to test positive for banned substances, many Chinese medicine practices are being used — and for good reason, says Scot Somes.
Somes, owner of the Center for Integrated Eastern Medicine in Denver, says some of the benefits of an athlete using Eastern medicine include faster recovery from injuries, greater focus and less performance anxiety. All this comes from balancing emotional, mental and physical health.
Somes, who has a master of science from the Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said he tried Eastern medicine when he was in the Navy.
After getting the flu in Japan, he visited an acupuncturist insteadof taking the drugs that were prescribed for him. He said he recovered in two days.
Somes also credits the use of Eastern medicine with helping him heal after being hit by a bus, and the separated shoulder and neck injuries that followed .
He’s been using Eastern medicine for 15 years and says it has helped him stay strong as a cyclist, swimmer and skier.
Somes says that when he meets patients, the first session might last an hour. A patient will receive such treatments as acupuncture, tui na massage and cupping, which is done by applying glass or plastic cups over the body and using heat to create suction and work on stressed areas.
Robyn Smith, 38, has been a patient of Somes’ for two years. The personal trainer and member of the women’s rugby team Black Ice sees Somes three times a month for acupuncture and Chinese massage sessions. She says they keep her in balance and prevent health problems from arising.
Somes cautions patients not to expect immediate relief. “There are a lot of people who want instant gratification; it’s an American way,” Somes said. “They want the pain to be gone when I very first put the needle in. Anything in life takes time to achieve.”
For a typical injury such as a hamstring pull that takes about six to eight weeks to heal using only Western medicine, Somes said, he can get athletes back to training in three weeks.
Eastern and Western medicine meet by Somes collaborating with the athlete’s doctor or trainer to figure out a plan, he said.
“I can’t guarantee I can fix it, but I can give them a fighting chance,” he says.
Jordan Dresser: 303-954-1503 or firstname.lastname@example.org