Skip to content

Want to be better, faster, stronger?

Look no further than your recovery strategy.

Working on your rest may not be the first thing to come to mind when you want to level up or shave seconds off your PB. But recovery is truly the unsung hero of peak performance. It’s this quiet space where our bodies rebuild after we’ve pushed them to the limit where real progress happens.

Whether you're sprinting, lifting, or executing the perfect kata, your recovery is as crucial as your training. So, let’s dive in to explore how TCM principles can complement your cool-down routines and aid muscle recovery, reducing soreness, and keeping those pesky injuries at bay.

Learn How to Relieve Muscle Tension

Could muscle knots and stiffness be the reason you aren’t reaching your performance goals?

Our latest blog explores all things muscle tension—what causes it, how it affects your body and most importantly, how to alleviate it. You’ll learn natural and effective ways to soothe sore muscles, enhance recovery and maintain your active lifestyle with less downtime.

Whether you're an athlete aiming for new heights or simply looking to live pain-free, read the blog to find out how to protect your body, prevent injuries and stay in your best shape.

Read the Blog

Top Recovery Techniques for Athletes: Do They Work?

A TCM Perspective on Recovery Strategies

Traditional Chinese Medicine tackles athlete recovery as it does any other health condition – by restoring balance so the body can heal on its own. But along with acupuncture and herbs, there are other performance and recovery strategies that athletes turn to. But how well do they work, and do they truly support the body according to TCM?

  1. Cold Water Immersion Therapy
  2. Ice baths, cold showers, cryotherapy tanks, and wild swimming have all been used to help athletes recover from muscle soreness and enhance the body’s resilience. From a TCM standpoint, cold water immersion is mostly seen as a way to expel pathogenic heat (inflammation) and stimulate the flow of Qi and blood throughout the body. For athletes with a strong constitution – especially those that struggle with inflammation – can expect cold water immersion to reduce muscle recovery time.

    However, not everyone is suited to cold therapy. According to TCM, those with cold or weak constitutions should avoid this type of recovery therapy, and opt for warm muscle relaxing options instead. Even if you’ve got a robust build, overexposure to cold can also lead to an imbalance and even 'trap' cold in the muscles, leading to more stagnation and soreness. In these cases, opt for Herbal Ice, instead. It reduces inflammation and supports muscle recovery like cold water immersion, but without the cold exposure.

  3. Compression Garments
  4. Maintaining a smooth and unhindered flow of blood and Qi is crucial in TCM for promoting health and recovery. Compression garments provide a gentle, sustained pressure on the muscles, which in TCM terms, can help to prevent the stagnation of blood and Qi. This ensures that blood is flowing and helps to remove excess lactic acid and other waste products that cause muscle soreness. Compression can also support the body’s yang energy, by keeping the muscles warm and supported, for even faster recovery and performance.

  5. Foam Rolling
  6. Many avid athletes use or even own a foam roller. These simple tools are similar to the TCM practice of self-massage or "rolling" with bamboo pieces, which has been used for centuries to stimulate blood flow and Qi.

    According to TCM, muscle soreness is typically due to stagnation of qi and blood. Foam rolling offers a modern-day (and more comfortable) version of bamboo rolling, which helps to move stagnation, break up adhesions and knots in the muscles and fascia, and promote the smooth flow of Qi and blood. Foam rolling is a great way to encourage the body's ability to self-heal after a workout and increase your resilience, muscle health, and overall flexibility.

  7. Passive Recovery Techniques
  8. Passive recovery techniques like massage, tui na, acupuncture, and even sound baths could help you speed up tissue recovery and improve other aspects of your well-being. As passive modalities, these truly initiate deep rest as all you need to do is show up and let the healing happen.

These passive recovery techniques may help you perform better and recover faster. Remember to complement these practices with adequate sleep, hydration, and nutrition for the best results in muscle recovery and athletic performance. Want to learn more about enhancing your athletic performance with TCM?

Catch up on our past articles!

Acupuncture Points for Muscle Recovery

3 Go-To Points to Press Post-Workout

Acupressure has long been used in sports medicine as a recovery technique for sore, aching muscles and joints. Stimulating acupoints is a simple at-home method for increasing your blood flow and stimulating the body's natural healing processes post-training. Here are 3 go-to points to try after your next workout for whole-body recovery:

  1. Zusanli (ST 36) – Leg Three Miles
  2. Located on the lower leg, four finger widths down from the bottom of your kneecap and along the outer boundary of your shin bone.

    ST36 is one of the most commonly used acupoints because it offers so many health benefits. From enhancing your body's energy levels and supporting the immune system to encouraging blood flow and rapid muscle recovery, this point is key for proactive repair and preparing the body for your next workout. Apply firm pressure with your thumb and hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Repeat on the other leg.

  3. Weizhong (UB 40) – The Middle of the Crook
  4. Located at the midpoint of the crease at the back of the knee.

    Weizhong is a powerful point to ease lower back and leg pain, making it an ideal point for soothing soreness after any workout. Gently press for 20-30 seconds on each side, and repeat 2-3 times, to activate this point.

  5. Jianjing (GB 21) – Shoulder Well
  6. Located midway between the neck and the tip of the shoulder.

    Jianjing is a key point for the upper body. It is known to alleviate tension in the neck, shoulders, and upper back, and is perfect for releasing trigger point tension in these areas. Use your opposite hand to grasp the muscle with your thumb and fingers and apply downward pressure gently. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute and release.

Herbal Spotlight: 3 Liniments for Each Stage of Athlete Recovery

Effective, results-driven training also requires a smart recovery strategy. With the power of herbal liniments, you can support your muscles and joints through each phase of recovery and optimize your athletic performance. Here’s what we recommend you keep on hand:

  1. Light Training or Prevention – Ancestor’s Advanced Dit Da Jow
  2. This gentle and restorative formula is perfect for those with light training or low levels of muscle soreness. It enhances your conditioning efforts and solidifies the results from your training.

  3. Intense Training, Moderate Soreness – Ho Family Dit Da Jow
  4. This is for those workouts when you know you’re going to have some soreness for the next couple days. Ho Family is designed to enhance your conditioning, accelerate your healing, and reduce that lingering muscle soreness.

  5. Overtraining and Pain – Bruise Juice
  6. Bruise Juice is the liniment to keep on hand for those times when you overdo it or are feeling extremely sore. Along with herbs to heal tissues, it is also powerfully anti-inflammatory to help reduce swelling, soreness, pain, and even heal bruised or traumatized tissue.

Plum Dragon’s Herbal Kitchen

Salmon-Goji Curry: A Delicious Meal for Muscle Recovery

Need a simple meal to replenish your energy and support recovery after training? This nourishing salmon curry recipe is for you! This recipe from Six Pack Revolution combines tons of anti-inflammatory ingredients that support muscle recovery (like salmon, turmeric, lemon, and chili) as well as goji berries – a Chinese medicinal ingredient that nourishes the muscles, tendons, and enhances blood circulation.


Meet the Author

Kate Downes is a Chinese medicine practitioner (MSAOM, NCCAOM, Dipl.OM) and wellness writer. Through her educational content for Plum Dragon Herbs, Kate hopes to help others gain a better understanding of the wonders of Chinese herbal medicine so they can be empowered in their own quest for natural, vibrant health.

A Special Offer for Our Newsletter Readers

We hope you enjoyed this newsletter. As a special thanks to our readers, we created a discount code you can use to save 20% off on one future purchase*: SPRINGNEWS20.

To be notified of our next quarterly newsletter and discount codes like these, become one of our regular email subscribers using the form directly below.

*Discount excludes buy 2, get 1 offer and herb grinder.

Net Orders Checkout

Item Price Qty Total
Subtotal $0.00

Shipping Address

Shipping Methods