Interview with Nicole Rasor, LAc
The 2012 Summer Olympic Games are officially over but the Olympic spirit lives on. Around 10,500 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) took part. 30 new world records in 7 sports were set. And no matter which of the 26 featured sports they competed in, chances were high that athletes were turning to alternative medicine like massage and acupuncture as well as natural remedies to keep them in top shape.
Nicole Rasor is one of those athletes who has seen the benefits that acupuncture and other alternative therapies can have on a body during competitions and beyond. From her own experience as an Olympic diver in 1984 and a nationally ranked archer for the 2011 and 2012 seasons, Rasor knows the importance of a quick recovery and the effectiveness of acupuncture and Oriental medicine in healing injuries.
Rasor: An athlete turned acupuncturist
The Tucson, Arizona, based athlete has not only received acupuncture treatments for archery related injuries but also for migraines. And after a 10-year battle with migraines, she finally found relief through acupuncture which then led to her decision to study the medicine.
Rasor graduated from the Asian Institute for Medical Studies, an acupuncture school in Tucson, in 2007. Since then, she has been treating other athletes and people with an active lifestyle at her own acupuncture clinic providing relief from pain and injuries and improving her patients’ overall health.
Nicole Rasor shares her experience with giving and receiving acupuncture treatments in this exclusive Qi interview.
How has acupuncture helped you compete at such high levels in the archery sport?
Acupuncture has helped with recovery time. I’m significantly older than most of my competitors. I’m almost 47 and my competitors range from the teens to not even 40. The younger you are the quicker you can recover after competition or lots of practice.
I use acupuncture to help me recover faster from injuries, over-training or any aches or pains I might have. These regular treatments have helped me not developing a chronic condition. In addition, acupuncture helps me improve my focus. And focus is key at such a high-precision sport as archery.
What modalities in addition to acupuncture do you use for treating and preventing injuries?
I use Chinese medicines very frequently as well as massages.
How did you come to study Oriental medicine and acupuncture?
In my late 20’s I started getting headaches and over the years they became worse and worse. I pretty much tried everything – hormonal treatments and whatever Western medicine would throw at me. After my husband and I had moved to Tucson, I tried acupuncture and Chinese herbs pretty much as a last resort. It took a few months but the acupuncture treatments helped relieve my headaches. At first I didn’t realize I could use acupuncture for my athletic performances, too. So when I got treated for the headaches at the student clinic at the Asian Institute of Medical Studies, I saw improvements in my performance as well and after that I decided that I wanted to study acupunture.
I started at Asian Institute of Medical Studies in winter of 2003 and finished my acupuncture degree in 2007. Then I went back in 2008 to study Chinese herbs which I’m finishing up this summer. In Arizona you’re not required to study herbs to practice as an acupuncturist. I decided to study acupuncture and Chinese herbs separately as my son was born while I was in school and I figured it would be easier to finish one degree and then go back and finish the other.
How does being an elite athlete influence your approach to practicing acupuncture?
Most of my patients are recreational or high performance athletes. They get hurt doing what they love to do. I would never tell them to stop doing what they’re doing. I basically try to help them while they are still continuing their sport.
That makes me different from other acupuncturists. I won’t tell my patients to stop exercising because that’s their life. Instead, I work with them, treat them and make suggestions with regards to wellness. It might take a little longer to see results than if they would stop training or exercising, but I know they’re happy engaging in their favorite activities.
What advice do you have for other athletes, both high-performance and recreational, who are considering acupuncture as part of their health and wellness regimen?
Don’t wait until you get hurt.
I would advise them not wait to receive acupuncture until they get hurt. Most people don’t realize that acupuncture can improve your overall health – your sleep, your focus, your recovery time. You don’t have to be hurt to get benefit from acupuncture.
Once an athlete comes to get treatments from me, they realize it’s not just for the pain. They then come in regularly for so called “tune-up sessions” because they realize acupuncture is beneficial overall, not just for pain.
Consider acupuncture for women’s health issues.
I also have a lot of female athletes come see me that battle with their menstrual cycles. I treat these athletes for their women’s health issues. It can be detrimental to have a big tournament coming up and you’re suffering from the worst cramps ever. Acupuncture helps tremendously in these instances.
I recommend herbal medicine, even for competitive athletes.
I also do treat athletes, even highly competitive ones, with herbal medicine. As scary as it sounds what with the drug testing for athletes, I only use companies that I feel confident in like Mayway Herbs or Golden Flower Herbs. I stick with the companies that have had excellent test results.
Some athletes take a while to trust me with regards to herbs. But for those that are scared when they needed a formula, especially other archery friends, I’ve been known to pop a few of those pills in my mouth to show I’m not afraid because I can get tested just as much as they are.
Nicole Rasor, LAc, is a licensed acupuncturist and nationally ranked archer (2011 & 2012) based in Tucson, Arizona. She specializes in sports injuries as well as acute and chronic pain. Rasor received her masters in acupuncture from the Asian Institute of Medical Studies in Tucson. Find out more about her at Active Life Acupuncture.
photos courtesy of Nicole Rasor
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