Chinese Herbal Medicine and Athletic Sports Performance:

What is Chinese herbal medicine? Dating back to 3rd Century BC, Chinese herbal medicine is an incredible healing tool for all athletes. Most people think of herbs as being plants only - in fact these herbs fall under an umbrella of any natural occurring substance that has a therapeutic benefit.  There are over 10,000 herbs in the Chinese medical pharmacopeia including everything from plants – with every specific part of the plant having different effects – to rocks, bugs, and animals (there are several herbs that can be harvested without harming the animal). When used correctly, Chinese herbs have little to no side effects. 

Thousands of years ago Chinese medicine was the only medicine used in all martial arts and it’s where herbal medicine for athletic performance was created. It was found to be extremely useful for injury treatment, prevention and performance enhancement and became well documented during the time of the Shaolin Warriors. Customized herbal formulas were also created for very specific injuries the warriors may have experienced including “formula for the treatment of headache of the forehead due to hit by a stick”,  “formula for treatment of swelling and pain of the shoulder due to hit of a whip” or “formula for treatment of bone due to poisonous arrow.” 


In current times, injury prevention is something at the top list of important factors for an athlete, especially for those that are training daily and competing professionally. Being able to withstand a heavy training camp injury-free is what every athlete strives for. 

Initially, we look for imbalances in an athletes life. Are they sleeping well? Stressed? Are they eating properly and staying hydrated? These are all important factors that, if imbalanced, could lead to injury.  In these cases, injury prevention can be as simple as creating a customized herbal decoction for an athlete that has problems sleeping. Being properly rested every will allow him to perform better, faster and stronger, while allowing adequate time for the body to heal overnight. 

In many cases it gets a bit more complicated, especially dealing with high-level athletes. Even if their sleep is great, diet is on point and stress levels are managed, there is still always risk for injury. Depending on what the athlete's goals are, there are so many herbal formulas that can help to nourish and lubricate the tendons, ligaments and joints, increase blood flow to the muscles which will assist recovery and prevent injuries. Herbal formulas to help boost immunity becomes essential as a heavy training schedule (especially if outside in the elements) can hinder athletic progression and predispose them to injury if the athlete gets sick.

When is comes to high-level athletes, athletic performance is almost equally psychological. The mental drive to train hard every day, having advanced clarity, focus, concentration and an ability to multitask with quick reaction times is what can make or break an athlete.  Whether there is an issue or if an athlete simply wants to enhance one or more of these qualities, there is an herbal decoction for these qualities too.

Chinese herbs can provide that competitive edge that many athletes are seeking and should be prepared in carefully selected combinations by a qualified herbalist.  If you have any questions regarding Chinese herbal medicine and athletic performance, please contact Adrienne Coombs at Pro Motion Clinic.