QIAN Jinhua, the general-secretary of the Chinese Association of Sports Medicine, provides some insight into the practice of sports medicine in China.

Does the practice of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) affect the physical conditioning and treatment of athletes in China?

Athlete selection, bodily function evaluation, training, and preventing and controlling injury and sickness are all important components of the Chinese sports medicine system. In the last few years we have incorporated a good deal of theory, experience, and methodology from the overseas, but we still use many elements of TCM. For instance, we treat chronic and acute soft-tissue damage with TCM massage as well as acupuncture and moxibustion [the burning of herbs on or near the skin to stimulate healing]. Doctors with Western medical training have become more popular with athletes for other types of problems, however. For instance, athletes are tired of using traditional Chinese herbal remedies; they prefer Western prescriptions.

Are sports medicine experts elsewhere in the world using traditional Chinese methods, such as acupuncture, to treat athletes?

Unfortunately, the use of TCM in sports medicine elsewhere in the world is limited mainly to increasing the mobility of the wounded and sick. As far as I know, acupuncture is widely used, and it is considered effective for this.

What kinds of international collaborations are occurring in sports and sports medicine, in general and also because of the Olympics?

Many national teams invite high-level foreign coaches to be head coach. For example, here in China the national men’s basketball team, crew team, and hockey team have foreign head coaches. Also, every year China has many different international science and sports medicine conferences. [One such conference is the FIMS World Congress of Sports Medicine, which was held in Beijing 14–16 June 2006 (http://www.casm.com.cn/fims2006/).] Additionally, in order to raise the skill levels of our national sports teams’ doctors, periodically we send them overseas to get training.

Is sports medicine a growing field in China? Who sees sports medicine specialists?

Sports medicine is definitely a growing field in China. Fitness is becoming fashionable, and sports medicine’s popularity among ordinary people is expanding. I anticipate that as quality of life and quality of medical services increase in China, more and more people will want to use sports medicine to enhance their bodily functioning and to restore their bodies’ balance as they strive for greater fitness.

We thank Howard G. Knuttgen and Yang Jingyi for their help with this interview.

Source: Chinese Sports Medicine: An interview with Qian Jinhua. (2006). Guanxi: The China Letter, 3, 8.