TCM is just what the doctor ordered for keen Olympians
China Daily

Journalists reporting on the Winter Olympics try their hand at making remedies at an exhibition center for traditional Chinese medicine at Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, on Feb 2, 2022. (Photo: Chen Xiaodong/China Daily)

It seems hard to impress American Samoan athlete Nathan Crumpton.

The frigid temperatures on the evening of the opening ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games did not deter him-the flag-bearer for his delegation-from walking into the stadium barechested and only wearing ethnic costume.

Equally, as a bobsleigh and skeleton athlete, he appeared unfazed when plunging headfirst down icy tracks at speeds topping 80 kilometers per hour.

But one thing that has certainly made an impression on him is acupuncture, a cornerstone of TCM that involves practitioners inserting thin needles at trigger points in the human body.

During his stay at the Yanqing Olympic Village in Beijing, he has visited the village's clinic at least three times to receive TCM therapy to relieve muscle pain and soreness.

"He felt severe pain in his right leg when he first came on the morning of the opening ceremony," said Chen Dongxiao, a doctor from the acupuncture department of the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences' Wangjing Hospital.

At 36, Crumpton said he knew he had passed the prime of his peak athletic performance, but thought it would be well worth it to compete again.

He eventually finished in 19th place in the event on Feb 11. The intensity of the event caused soreness and pain in his back and right leg, prompting him to turn to Chen again the next morning.

Crumpton said he felt much better after acupuncture. "TCM is great, and Chinese doctors are amazing," he was quoted as saying by the China News of Traditional Chinese Medicine newspaper.

Wang Yi, head of Wangjing Hospital's radiology department and head of the hospital's team at the Yanqing Olympic Village clinic, said acupuncture and tui na-a form of Chinese massage, are the most popular therapies among Olympians.

Wang said athletes are more likely to experience pain when training and racing in low temperatures. Stomach flu, indigestion, insomnia and anxiety are also common.

"Acupuncture and tui na are effective in relieving these conditions and can yield quick outcomes. That's why they are so appreciated by athletes," he said.

During an interview with China Central Television, a staff member of the Russian Olympic Committee also praised acupuncture.

She said she could sleep better and felt less anxiety after receiving acupuncture treatment.

"I had experienced it (TCM) in Moscow. Acupuncture is becoming more popular every year," she said.