Not Just Pins & Needles- Alternative treatment for performance, recovery and rugby.

We all know the physical toll playing the greatest game on earth has on our bodies. That’s from the running and training, practices and the games. All that activity on our body takes a toll. Those can be from fatigue to injuries, pain to lethargy. Whatever the reason our bodies need treatment from time to time.

We wanted to present something that is becoming more and more popular with athletes and specifically rugby players world wide. Rugby players need treatment for injuries, they need to find ways to also recovery from the demands of the game and some just want to find an edge which will help them become better.

Well acupuncture and acupressure are one of those ancient disciplines which top level athletes are seeking out to help them with a variety of needs. You may have seen some info out there on acupuncture, but we reach out to an expert to get some details for members of the Republic!

We recently connected with Carlo St. Juste II, LAc. Carlo is a licensed acupuncturist providing holistic health care in southern California. Before we have Carlo give us some tips and share what acupuncturist can do we wanted to learn a bit more about him. So we asked how did he become an acupuncturist? Carlo told us growing up he was involved with martial arts (kung fu, some jujitsu, and Tai Chi) and still is an instructor for Tai Chi so he’d heard of some of these ancient Chinese practices. He also was interested in health and wellness and so after his undergrad his interests all started to line-up and Acupuncture was a way to merge the two and be able to help others.  Carlo earned a Master’s in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from Southern California University of Health Science.

Carlo St. Juste II, LAc. 

Carlo St. Juste II, LAc. 

To make this flow better for you the reader, we will breakdown the interview into a Q and A format.

Rugby Republic (RR): What is acupuncture traditionally used for?
Carlo-You can use it to reduce stress, pain/injures, gastrointestinal issues, and over all mind and body.

RR: Are you seeing athletes getting into acupuncture?
Carlo: Yes. I treat a number of athletes for issues such as chronic pain, or traumatic pain (a result of recent injury). I work with some occasionally and a few on a weekly bases depending on their need, issue, etc. It’s all individualized. I work with several retired-NFL athleates and a number of mix martial arts fighters.  We really work with them to deal with muscle problems, joints and connective tissue (ligaments, tendons, etc) and also increase blood flow so to increase and improve recovery. 

RR: Treat any rugby players?
Carlo: Not that they’ve told me about. But they would benefit from these types of treatments.  In general peoples bodies will face issues over time, but if you are involved in high impact sports, or sports that put strain on neck, knees, and hips you’ll likely see more injuries.  In a sport with the demands and impacts of rugby people get hurt. My approach is holistic, so we don’t just ask what hurts, but I’ll need to know about them. So I’ll need to ask and know what sport are you playing, what do you eat, how do you feel, look at the posture, etc. and those together give us an idea of what the actual issue is and how to go about treating them.

RR: So there isn’t a set way to treat with acupuncture?
Carlo: Chinese and eastern medicine is less focused on the symptoms and treating those, but rather looks to find what is the root, the cause. A lot of what we do is on trying to understand the person and what’s going on with them. In addition to that, we try to understand the muscular and skeletal structure of the person and see what is a play.

In acupuncture we believe that body has channels or “meridians” where energy flows, and if those are blocked or obstructed then pain, or sickness occurs. So we unblock those. An easy way to look at it is if you have a bruise then we know that is a blockage, if we can get that blood moving again we get the oxygen circulating we heal the area and remove the blockage.

The job of an acupuncturist is to open the flow in the body and remove the blockages of the meridians.

RR: So how does this work?
Carlo: So a lot of what we do is based on ancient practices, but now there is actual medical and scientific research which is trying to understand how this all works.  It’s still a scientific mystery why the needles work. Some of it is the possibly having the needle stick you that causes your immune system to react to something foreign into your body. Some is that the nerves are stimulated and that gets things moving again, some is the “pain” or the reaction causes some hormones to release/react which can heal We also believe that some of it’s the sensation reaction which we call Chi but is hard to describe. It’s the energy reaction.

What we do have is centuries of practice and positive response. It’s worked for thousands of years and still works. Now we are getting the science to back it. A lot of the heath care industry is starting to support it and the research for acupuncture is increasing. For health care companies there is really no down side. Its effective as patients report. Its non-evasive and cost effective. Now days most insurance plans cover this type of treatment.

RR: So this can help our ruggers in a variety of ways?
Carlo: Definitely. It depends on what they are seeking or needing. If it’s some type of post-trauma injury, or pain management we can certainly help. If they need to recover after just a lot of wear and tear it can be a good option to help them heal. Also if they are looking to improve performance and just get their body going that can be done. too  Again it will depends on the person. I really try to get to know them. We aren’t prescribing medications, but rather trying to address the root caused of their ailment, free up the meridians, and get them to feel better.

What we do and how often depends on the person, the issue and really what they want.


RR: You really are taking a holistic approach to the treatment, from understanding what they are doing, the root causes, what they eat, how the feel, etc?
Carlo: We do. That’s part of the philosophy. The insurance companies support it and we have more and more athletes seeking this approach.

RR: So Carlo where can the rugby players who may be near you find you?
Carlo: Definitely. I have my own solo practice CSJ Acupuncture & Wellness in Azusa, CA. I’m there primarily. I also practice out of a satellite site in Burbank with two Chiropractors and there we also do some massage therapy.  I also do speaking and try and educate others about our practices including teaching Tai Chi.  I also try and share any information or new research I find through a blog I do.

Thank your to Carlo St. Juste II! As Carlo finds more research on acupuncture, which may be of interest for you, we’ll try and link to some of his blogs as well. Find more info on him at