Do you have knee pain? Exercise your arm!

Person holding knee in pain after exercise.

How Treating Your Arms Could Be the Key to Knee Pain Relief in Chinese Medicine

Today, we’re diving into a head-scratcher that’s turning the tables on how we think about pain relief. Get ready—your trusty arm exercises might just be the secret sauce for calming those cranky knees. Yep, you heard it here first! The University of Texas at El Paso has us questioning the norm, connecting the dots between arm workouts and knee comfort. So, let’s unpack this enigma with a casual vibe and a big shout-out to the powerhouse potential of treating the arms in Chinese medicine.

The Unusual Revelation

Now, you might be thinking, “How does my bicep routine have anything to do with my knees?” Well, buckle up because we’re about to embark on a journey where your arms take center stage. Our bodies are like a puzzle, and Chinese medicine has been piecing it together for eons. There is research being done at the University of Texas at El Paso that tests the wild theory that exercising one’s arms can ease pain in the knees of osteoarthritis patients. They conducted a clinical trial that consisted of 60 men and women. These men and women have consistent pain in their knees due to the damage done by osteoarthritis. The participants will do 20 minute arm exercises utilizing an arm cycle machine. The researchers are comparing the benefits of arm cycling to leg cycling, to see which reduces knee pain and increases the patient’s mobility. The other studies compared treadmill walking and arm cycling, to see which one relieved knee pain best. They found that arm exercises increased the patient’s ability to move around. They noted that treadmill walking can put more strain on the affected knee, although it does build muscle around the knee.

Chinese Medicine and the Flow of Energy

Picture your body as a bustling highway of energy, navigating its way through a maze. That’s the Qi in Chinese medicine—the life force that keeps things running smoothly. When there’s a roadblock in this energy highway, discomfort sets in. Enter arm exercises, the unsung heroes! This study suggests that working those arms isn’t just about sculpting muscles; it could be the shortcut to easing the ache in your knees.

Contralateral Training: Finding Balance in the Chaos

Now, let’s talk about contralateral training, the scientific lingo that’s shaking things up. In the down-to-earth realm of Chinese medicine, we’d call it a game of balance between Yin and Yang—two opposites trying to find their groove. So, if your knees are acting up, giving your arms a workout might just be the nifty move needed to restore equilibrium. Let me explain more. Let’s say you injured your arm, and it is painful to move it. Experts recommend you work out your “good” arm, and that it benefits your “bad” arm by reducing muscle loss. Another study done in Taiwan by researchers at the National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei, tested contralateral training in a controlled setting. They had the first group flex one arm continuously, while relaxing their other arm, and the second group kept both arms relaxed. They found that people exercising one arm, by flexing it, lost 2% of muscle in their non-moving arm. This is compared to the 28% loss of muscle in the group which kept both arms still. They call this effect muscle cross education, which is where muscles on your “good” side can benefit your “bad” side.

Acupuncture: Precision Healing in a Pinch

No chat about Chinese medicine is complete without a nod to acupuncture—the needle whisperers. Think of it like precision healing, strategically placing needles to get everything back in line. While the study zeroes in on arm exercises, let’s not forget that acupuncture can dial up the effectiveness, like adding an extra punch to your morning coffee.
As we untangle the connection between arm exercises and knee serenity, let’s shine a spotlight on the arms as the unsung heroes in Chinese medicine. This study hints at a game-changing rhythm, where treating the arms could be the undercover solution for knee contentment. Embrace the wisdom of uncharted paths, and let this be the kickoff to a laid-back saga between you and your knees.

Please call Pearl River Acupuncture at 845-668-1700 if you would like to seek acupuncture treatment for your chronic pain. Dr. Lee is a licensed acupuncturist and board-certified herbalist who creates individualistic treatment plans for all of her patients, we are always here to help!