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Acu in Practice: Hiking and Hips

Welcome to Acu in Practice! Hiking is a very popular past time for people and their canine friends. These hikes can range from short to multi-day excursions, flat to steep, even to uneven, and so on. Just like people, normal exercise related soreness can occur in dogs. In Chinese medicine, this is termed “Qi Stagnation.” Mild Qi Stagnation that is worked out through rest, stretching and return to exercise is not problematic. However, if the Stagnation does not work its way out, it can escalate to Blood Stagnation which is one of the pre-cursors to arthritis. Blood stagnation is also painful and harder to resolve. The escalation of Qi stagnation is especially common in middle aged to senior, middle sized to large breed dogs. Acupuncture is one valuable tool that we have to prevent the escalation. Experientially, in my practice, I find that the dogs that I treat in the middle age stage prior to arthritis stay more mobile and pain free for a longer period of time. Their aging patterns are slower to develop and body condition/muscle condition is more stable as they grow older. Thus, acupuncture is employed as a preventative measure in these patients along with the benefits of treating symptoms of soreness.


For hiking dogs, I typically detect the stagnation in the hips, low back, shoulders and wrists.


Acupuncture points that I commonly use are:

Hips/upper rear limb points – BL 54, GB 29, GB 30, GB 31

GB 34 – influential point for Sinews

BL 40 – if Blood deficiency diagnosed.

GB 41 – if significant level of reactivity in GB channel palpation

Lumbar – Yao Ba Hui, BL 26, BL 23

Shoulder – GB 21, SI 9 (usually with B12 aquapuncture)

Zhou shu – for elbows, forelimb

Forearm – LI 10 (plus Qi mover and booster!), LU 5 (if bicipital tendon symptoms)

Wrist – TH 5, LI 4


Many of my patients come initially for an exercise induced lameness or gait change and then continue acupuncture monthly once the acute problem is resolved. These are some of the most rewarding cases because the focus shifts to prevention rather than management of pain.



Captured in Coeur d'Alene Idaho - Thank you to this hiker and his four legged friend!

This post was created by Nell Ostermeier, DVM, CVA, FAAVA and is intended for informational use, not to replace veterinary medical advice.