We probably have suffered a jammed toe, pulled hamstring, or a twisted ankle at some point in our lives. These twists, pulls, and bumps can usually continue to bother us or even seemingly out of nowhere come back resulting in discomfort and pain years later.

A twisted ankle and other kinds of injury usually have a huge impact on a person’s daily life. A twisted ankle or a bum knee meant no work and when you can’t work, you can’t put food on the table.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners have used herbs, acupuncture, and massage for over several generations to effectively heal injuries and help individuals be mobile once more. These practitioners believe that the sooner injuries are resolved the fewer problems you will have later.

A strain pertains to an injury of the muscle while sprain usually concerns a ligament injury. Strains and sprains usually arise together in or near a joint since joints are prone to being wrenched or twisted as they are the ones who absorb the stress of movement.

According to TCM, two of the most important factors involved in injury and healing are Blood and QI.

From the viewpoint of traditional Chinese medicine, Blood’s responsibility is not only to flow through blood vessels to bring oxygen it also makes sure that the entire body is supplied with moisture and nourishment. Blood allows for normal movement by lubricating the joints and keeping the hair, skin, and tendons flexible, strong, and healthy.

As the bioelectrical energy responsible for movement, Qi helps circulate fluid and Blood smoothly throughout the body supplying much needed nutrients to each tissue and organ. The exterior of the body is also warmed by Qi.

Blood and Qi mutually depend on each other. Blood cannot flow without the help of Qi while the organs that create Qi rely on Blood’s vital nutrients to survive and produce more Qi.

Acute Injury

In any sprain or strain, a mechanical force blocks and disrupts the circulation of Blood and Qi. The product of fluid, Blood, and Qi stagnation is heat, swelling and pain. A stagnating Qi flow will be unable to properly move fluids and Blood. In the area of stagnation, Heat accumulates since Qi, which is innately warm, is stuck in that area.

If the sprain is quite severe, within your body blood will be forced to escape from the vessels and pool around the injured site creating black or dark-blue swelling.

Post-Acute Phase

All the surrounding tendons and muscles in the post-acute phase will contract to protect the affected part of the body. In that area, the normal circulation of Blood and Qi will be limited.

Chronic Injury

If they are not properly cleared fluids and Blood can glue, stagnate, and congeal the tissues together resulting in adhesions. This hinders the tissues from smoothly and evenly sliding over each other.

As a result of these hindrances it will take more energy for Blood and Qi to break through from this area. The affected site can become more sensitive to damp and cold, numb, and devitalized. When we are under stress or low in energy or when have a flu or cold, the pain tends to increase.

Muscles around the affected site contract in the post acute stage. This happens in order to protect the surrounding area. In chronic injuries, those muscles compensate and take the place of the damaged site– – a role they were not designed to do.

Management and Treatment of Sprains

Acute Cases

The way you treat an injury from the start will determine the progress of your recovery. The aims of the treatment are to:

– Lessen the heat in the site of the injury
– Boost local circulation
– Decrease the swelling


Blood stagnation and swelling can decrease and circulation stimulated with basic range-of-motion exercises that do not worsen the injury.


To help lessen the swelling, keep the sprained joint raised above heart level.


Ace wraps, bandages, or dressings should be utilized to provide support and immobilize the sprain.


To ease the pain and minimize swelling, the sprain should be immediately applied with ice. Apply ice three to four times each day for around ten to fifteen minutes at a time. Avoid heat at this point. To provide support and lessen swelling, the ice can be combined with a wrapping.


Limit body movements as much as possible. On the injury site, no extra force should be applied.


In TCM, foods are categorized into energetic classifications. Cold has the tendency to contract things. So, when we eat cold foods, it can slow down the healing process because the movement of Blood and Qi slows down, as well. Listed below are foods that should not be consumed in the initial phase of an injury:

– Shellfish
– Soy
– Dairy
– Tomatoes
– Raw vegetables and fruits
– Cold foods: Ice cream, beer, iced drinks

Plasters, ointment and Chinese herbs

Plasters, ointment, and cooling herbs can be used externally or taken internally to relieve swelling, bruising, and pain. For more details, consult your acupuncturist.

Shiatsu and Acupuncture

Shiatsu and Acupuncture in Bellmore can boost circulation and eliminate blood stagnation and swelling. One’s entire body tightens up after an injury. These two modes of therapy can quite dramatically and immediately alleviate pain and reverse the situation.


Most of the swelling and pain will be gone if a sprain is treated properly in the beginning. To protect the vulnerable part of the body, stiffness in the surrounding tendons will likely be experienced. The objectives of the treatment during this stage are to:

– Reenergize the affected site
– Clear any stagnant Blood that’s been left over
– Bring back normal ROM (range of motion)

Ice can clear the swelling and heat in the early stages of an injury. When the swelling is gone it is important to improve the flow of Blood and Qi in the affected area. A water bottle or a heating pad will do the trick.


The most important activity at this point is to reestablish normal movement. Injuries usually are not integrated with the body as a whole. They can be blocked out or we can “walk them off”. An improper treatment may eventually result in the affected region never quite “being the same” again.

Light weight-bearing activities and range of motion exercises can strengthen the injury site and its surrounding areas.

You may have the urge to return to that yoga class you’ve had to miss or get back on your bike once the pain is gone. It’s important to note that at this point the affected region may be still too weak and can easily be injured once more. Before starting any activity, make sure to massage and stretch that region. Halt when you sense discomfort and come back to massaging and stretching the area. The less likely the injury will come back if you take more care of yourself at this stage.