What Is Sports Medicine Acupuncture®? 

Sports Medicine Acupuncture® (SMA) is so special it even comes with a registered trademark. It’s an integration of Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and western Sports Medicine; bringing together several thousand years of Chinese medical tradition with the specific assessment tools, neuroanatomy and MSK knowledge of western medicine. This gives us a more complete set of tools to more completely diagnose and treat your injury, as well as you as a whole person.

The SMA system was originally developed by Matt Callison in the 1990’s (I bought his first book in 2000 as a student) and it’s been evolving and expanding ever since becoming the most advanced sports medicine and orthopaedic acupuncture training in the world. Certified Sports Medicine Acupuncturists routinely work with professional and amateur sports teams, universities and olympic athletes as part of the medical team. Many of us also work in private practice to help treat people of any athletic level. 

What makes SMA different than traditional acupuncture?

Let’s say that you hurt your knee. Every registered acupuncturist has their own unique training and experience to help treat that. But what if your acupuncturist had additional training that could help differentiate an MCL strain from a meniscus tear or tendon injury? Now we can combine traditional acupuncture with treatment specific to the injury. 

What if your acupuncturist had training that could show how a fallen arch in the foot, or a pelvic tilt may have increased stress on the tissues inside of the knee and contributed to the injury? If we can identify issues in your posture and how you move then we can work to correct them so you can get better faster and prevent future injury.

And this is just a couple tiny examples of SMA thinking that makes it a more complete treatment.

Additional SMA Diagnostic Tools

  • Static and functional posture assessments
  • Orthopaedic examinations
  • Manual muscle testing
  • Using acupuncture as part of diagnosis

Additional SMA Treatment Options

  • Advanced, or at least specialised, acupuncture points and techniques
  • PNF Stretching to restore normal range of motion
  • Deeper Tuina and myofascial work
  • Corrective exercises for postural imbalances
  • Kinesiotaping
  • Medicated liniments and plasters

There’s a lot more to Sports Medicine Acupuncture than I can go into with a simple blog post, but I hope this gives you a better idea of why I did this training and what it can offer you.

Who benefits from Sports Medicine Acupuncture?

So far, everyone. The SMA Training has brought a lot of classical acupuncture theory and techniques back to the forefront. Additionally, some of the orthopaedic and postural diagnostic tools have helped me significantly. I use these tools every day, even with people who have no pain or injury.

Obviously, the core of this practice is the treatment of specific injury - damaged ligaments or strained muscles that often occur during activity. Even injuries from repetitive use such as carpal tunnel syndrome or tenosynovitis from video games and texting. 

No matter the why, my goal is always to help you have less pain so you can move better and live your life the way you want to.

Finding a qualified practitioner

The SMA program (as taught by Matt Callison and a team of instructors) is a highly regarded post-graduate program that attracts practitioners from all over the world. It’s a serious undertaking for acupuncturists who want to better treat people with injury & pain and involves hundreds of hours of classroom and hands-on training.

Unfortunately in Canada, SMA is not a registered mark, so any practitioner can call themselves a Certified Sports Medicine Acupuncturist (C.SMA) - even just after a weekend course. Now, is it ethical to use a title that implies a certain level education and training they might not have? That’s between them and their own conscience, but many acupuncture points and techniques can be very dangerous without proper training; it's possible to do real harm to people. At time of writing, there are only seven C.SMA practitioners in BC and 13 in all of Canada, including myself. You can see a complete list of acupuncturists who have gone through the SMA program and examinations on the practitioners listing page