BiographyDavid A. Dawson, L.Ac.Zhu Da Header - D. A. Dawson, Ph.D., L.Ac.

Chinese Medicine and Peak Performance
David A. Dawson, Ph.D., L.Ac.

A friend of mine from my college days was a professional violinist. At sixteen, she won the prestigious Jaques Thibaud International Violin Competition – one of the highest achievements possible in the music world. She went on to become the concertmistress of a well-respected symphony orchestra. Within a few years, however, she was forced to retire due to tendonitis of the elbow. She now teaches, but is no longer able to play professionally.

Another young friend of mine is a runner. He's one of those people that step onto the track and run so fast that you bang on your stopwatch to see if it's working properly. He's currently sidelined due to a fever he had ... more than a year ago. After the fever, he went back to training too soon, and never got his strength back. His recovery is a long-term project, now, and we're working together to him get back to where he can be a national contender once again.

Another friend and patient of mine is a coach. He was a national finalist in who-knows-how-many college and masters' competitions, yet can now barely stand on the pool deck through a workout to coach his divers. He has a bulging disk that sends severe pain shooting down his legs; he is considering surgery to excise the bulge, or to fuse the vertebrae.

Each of these people push their bodies to the limit and beyond to achieve great things. Our bodies are made in such a way that such challenges generally serve only to make us stronger. Yet for each of these people, something has gotten in the way of that process, and there has been a cascade of changes that have left each of them unable to do what they would like to do.

For each of these people, Chinese medicine offers a kind of hope different from anything they could find elsewhere. This hope and help comes in several ways:

  1. Chinese medicine can recognize signs of distress in the body before symptoms get in the way of performance;

  2. likewise, Chinese medicine can make a diagnosis that considers not only the kind of symptoms the patient is experiencing, but also what other complications are likely to develop given the patient's constitution, and the actual source of the symptoms - what is going on that allows the symptoms to manifest in this particular way;

  3. in addition, Chinese medicine balances not only the physical body, but also the mind and spirit, enabling a performer to handle stress well, to stay focused and alert, to rest when needed, and to respond willingly and fully to the challenges that high-level training places on an individual;

  4. and most importantly, Chinese medicine can treat the condition from all directions at once - to address the specific symptoms, to protect from further damage, and to rebuild and rebalance the system in order to help prevent further problems.

In addition, getting to that level of health has the added benefit of protecting you in other ways, too. You respond to training more powerfully; you have fewer problems with jet-lag; you get over colds in the blink of an eye (if indeed you catch one at all); your spirit and emotions are more resilient, energetic, and calm. This physical and emotional balance go hand in hand to support the quest for the best.

Patients should note, however, that Chinese medicine may not immediately 'cure' or 'heal' the problem, and does not always meet the need on its own. Powerful though it is, Chinese medicine is not likely to fully heal the bulging disk of my coaching patient on its own, even though his pain does respond well to treatment. If my friend does decide to go ahead with back surgery, though, Chinese medicine can help ready his body for surgery, and can substantially reduce the time required for healing after surgery.

Certain people ask a lot of their bodies – athletes, dancers, musicians, artists, rock-climbers, coaches, skateboarders, moms, fly-fishers, nurses ... anyone who calls on his or her body to give its best at any given moment. Chinese medicine offers a way to facilitate being at your peak. 

I still train and compete at an elite level as a springboard and platform diver. Having over 15 international championships to my credit (as well as many other respectable finishes) and one national record still standing after 14 years, I understand the desire to set goals that are beyond my reach, and to push the limits to see what I can achieve.

I deeply affirm this desire in anyone, in whatever way it manifests. To that end, please feel free to discuss with me any concerns you may have about Chinese medicine. I look forward to being able to help you reach for your dreams.

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