Laich trying acupuncture in quest for answers

Laich trying acupuncture in quest for answers
December 5, 2013, 5:15 pm
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Caps week in review: 12.4.13

(Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports)

If you’re wondering what the heck is going on with Brooks Laich’s “lower body injury,” you’re not alone.

Brooks Laich is wondering the same thing.

“The main concern is sort of why is it happening again?” Laich said on Thursday after missing his eighth straight day of skating. “I went through a pretty extensive process last year to A) try and figure out what was causing it; and B) to try to find a solution. And ultimately, we were never able to really nail down the cause for either.”

That is not very encouraging news when you consider Laich, 30, missed all but nine games last season with groin-related issues that required abdominal surgery.

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Through the first 22 games of this season, Laich thought he had finally cleared the physical and mental hurdles that came from last year’s surgery. That all changed on Nov. 22 when he began feeling tightness in his left groin during the Caps’ game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Laich played through that discomfort the next night in Toronto but felt significant pain against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 27, saying by the end of that game, in which he played just over 18 minutes, it became “pretty evident” he couldn’t skate well enough to help the team.

Since then Laich has been on a mission to find out what went wrong and how he can make it right.

“I talked to a couple team doctors who said in their history they’ve never seen anyone go through the same symptoms after getting it cleared up,” Laich said. “The pain is kind of minor, but it’s enough to cause alarm and enough to cause some physical malfunction. I’m trying to be positive about it and hopefully be back on the ice sometime soon.”

To help promote healing Laich has begun acupuncture therapy. Needles are inserted about three inches into his skin and he is administered electrical currents. He began the therapy on Sunday and has had daily sessions since then, with another scheduled for Friday morning.

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“Sometimes you get a big jolt and sometimes you don't, but it's supposed to get pathways in certain muscles firing at the same time,” Laich said. “It's kind of like a G-rated way of being tasered if that makes sense.

“Yesterday, we had an interesting experience. One time, [the acupuncture therapist] turned it up a little too high and my leg just about kicked him in the face. His quote was, ‘Son of a biscuit!’ But we're trying to experiment. I had good results with it the first time, so we went a little more aggressive yesterday. It's kind of something that I'm hopeful will get me back on the ice.”

Laich said that if he learned anything from his experience last season, it’s to be patient with his body. With that in mind, he said he will not rush himself back into the lineup this season. Jay Beagle has taken Laich’s spot centering the third line.

“I was pretty humbled last year,” he said. “I learned pretty quickly that it's something I can't beat. It's not a question of being tough or being stubborn, it's so physically limiting that you just can't help the team.

“I'm a little more patient this time. I'm going to have to be right before I go back on the ice in order to be able to make the season and to be able to play for a continued stretch of time.”

Laich said the biggest obstacle he faces now is limiting the pain.

“The function, mobility and strength are all still there,” he said. “Just the physical pain has to leave before I can get back out on the ice.”