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Find out about Eastern medicine
Craig Smith
By Craig Smith
Nottinghamshire CCC physio

Alternative therapy, or if you like, eastern medicine, is definitely on the up in today's world of professional sport.

Therapies such as acupuncture and dry needling, homeopathy, acupressure, trigger point therapy and Reiki are regularly used as alternative therapies to treat sports injuries.

And exercise regimes such as Yoga and Pilates are also being included in sportsmen's training programmes to give them the edge when it comes to fitness, flexibility, strength and conditioning.

So what exactly are these alternative techniques all about?


A patient has a few needles placed in his face
The Chinese believe that our health is dependent on the body's energy flow or Qi

Acupuncture is a very old form of Chinese therapy.

It uses fine needles to treat illness and injury and maintain the overall well being of the body.

The Chinese believe that our health is dependent on the body's energy flow or Qi (pronounced chi).

In a healthy body, there is a smooth, uninterrupted flow of this energy around the body.

The body's natural energy flow (or Qi) is also made up of equal and opposite energies - the Yin and Yang.

If these two energy flows become disturbed or unbalanced, this can present itself as an illness or injury.

Acupuncture therapy involves inserting fine needles into various parts of the body's energy channels.

These needles help to put right the flow of energy around the body and kick-start the body's own healing response.

So for instance, one needle may be placed in the left big toe, another on the inside of the left knee, another in the top of your head and another one at the base of your left thumb.

The needles then link up the body's flow of energy to focus healing the injury.

Acupuncture opens up the body's energy flow channels to the injured or recovering areas.

Enhancing the circulation will bring more blood and oxygen to the area and help the healing tissues recover quicker and stronger during the rehabilitation period.


Yoga is a form of physical, mental and spiritual exercise therapy that has been taught and practiced in the east for many years.

Marcus Trescothick during a Yoga session in South Africa
England batsman Marcus Trescothick is a Yoga fan

Taking part in a Yoga class will involve going through a series of movements, postures and stretches.

These are all designed to give you flexibility and strength and improve your overall well-being.

Breathing is a very important part of Yoga.

It helps you draw energy from your centre, with the help of your large diaphragm breathing muscle in your chest and abdomen.

This relaxes your body, helping your to reach further for the postures and stretches that you are performing.

More and more elite sportsmen and women are turning to Yoga-like activities to help them gain the edge over their competitors.

Taking part in a Yoga class a few times a week will help you improve your flexibility and suppleness.

It also helps you to become fitter and stronger in these improved ranges of active flexibility.

For example, being able to hold a particular stretch or posture in a Yoga position that places more stretch, tension and control on the hamstring and groin muscles may help you to become more flexible and stronger in these areas.

Yoga is becoming more popular among sport stars as a means to slow down the wear and tear rate

This will make you better conditioned and less prone to injury and help to restore flexibility and suppleness to injured tissues.

It also increases strength and control to the muscles and tendons in their new and improved ranges of movement.

Yoga is becoming more and more popular among sport stars as a means to slow down the wear and tear rate.

That's the reason why Roy Keane of Manchester United, Australia's rugby union team players and a host of other sport stars have been turning to Yoga.


Pilates is the latest form of rehabilitative and training exercise given by trained Pilates instructors and physios to help sportsmen and women become fitter, stronger and less prone to injury.

Pilates involves using specially designed equipment together with Swiss Balls and mat work to help strengthen the body through the deep core and stabiliser muscles.

A pilates session
Having strong core and supple muscles will help to keep them in shape and limit the wear and tear injuries

By making the core and stabiliser muscles stronger, athletes are less likely to get injured.

This is because the body posture is being held together by stronger and better working 'activated' muscles.

The stabiliser muscles of the trunk include the two deep tummy muscles and the small multifidus muscles of the spine.

Bowlers are encouraged to work on their core stabilisers as part of their injury prevention conditioning.

Cricketers who throw a lot and tennis players need to maintain the stabiliser strength of their shoulder blade muscles to prevent shoulder tendon injuries from developing.

Rugby and football players need to work on their stabiliser muscles of the pelvis (the buttocks and groin muscles).

Keeping these strong will help to prevent hamstring injuries from occurring.

With the Nottinghamshire cricket team, we've introduced weekly "core classes" that are a combination of Pilates and Swiss ball exercise routines.

The "core classes" are designed to strengthen the core muscles of the body; the deep tummy and back muscles plus the hamstrings, groin and buttock and thigh muscles.

Core classes particularly benefit and help strengthen our bowlers whose bodies are subjected to hours and hours of stress and loading during a county cricket season.

Some bowlers will end up bowling upwards of 800 overs in a season and having a strong core and supple muscles will help to keep them in shape and limit the wear and tear injuries so often sustained.

A combination of Acupuncture, Yoga and Pilates can be used very effectively to help athletes during their injury rehab, or their long return from surgery or just limit their injuries during the season.


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