FLORHAM PARK, N.J. –- Chris Ivory is on pace to shatter his career high in carries, and the running back’s physical running style can take its toll.
That is one reason why the New York Jets' workhorse has taken to acupuncture as part of his weekly rehab regimen. Twice a week, the bruising 6-foot 222-pound back has needles stuck into him in an effort to help him feel fresh, pain free and recover.
“If you know a little bit about it, it does (seem like something that works),” Ivory said when asked about if the treatment works. “It is something that gets deeper in the muscle than your normal deep-tissue massage. So far that has worked for me.”
The Mayo Clinic describes acupuncture as a treatment that “involves the insertion of extremely thin needles through your skin at strategic points on your body. A key component of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is most commonly used to treat pain... many Western practitioners view the acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue. Some believe that this stimulation boosts your body's natural painkillers and increases blood flow.”
Ivory first started using acupuncture when he joined the Jets in 2013. He says he usually undergoes the treatment on Monday and Friday each week.
The Jets want to do all they can to keep their bruiser fresh. Ivory has already carried the ball 156 times for 643 yards and six touchdowns through eight games. Last season, Ivory had a career-high 198 carries for 821 yards and six touchdowns in 16 games.
Ivory exploded for 166 and 146 yards against the Dolphins and Redskins, respectively, in Weeks 4 and 6 (the Jets had a bye in Week 5). But in the Jets’ following three games, Ivory gained a total of 84 yards and two touchdowns. He rebounded with 99 yards against Buffalo last Thursday, but the Jets are cautious about wearing their bell cow out.
“You go into a game with a specific number,” head coach Todd Bowles said of Ivory’s carries. “But if he’s rolling and he’s having a good day and you like what he's doing, you keep feeding him. Obviously, if we got to throw the ball more, his carries will drop a little bit.”
Ivory is averaging 19.5 carries per game. While he averages 4.1 yards per carry this season, he averaged just 1.1 yards per carry in the Jets’ two games against Oakland and Jacksonville prior to his 99-yard game against Buffalo.
“I feel good,” Ivory said. “Just have to continue to stay doing the things that have been helping me and just continue my rehab program and see how far it takes me.”
That program has consisted of cold tub, hot tub, maintenance exercises and treatments, acupuncture, massage and daily hydration. Ivory said he tried dry needling treatment before giving acupuncture a try.
“I tried dry needling before and that didn’t work so well with me,” Ivory said. “It just depends on the person and technique. (Dry needling) is more like targeting one area, and the needs in that muscle versus acupuncture.
“It is very similar but acupuncture I guess they hit a few different main muscle trigger points in the body. Let’s say one main muscle, they follow all the muscles that follow that main muscle and everything around it, which brings in new blood within the area.”
Even the muscular Ivory admits to feeling the pain of the needles being poked into him.
“It is painful,” Ivory said. “But after a while, well for me, I’ve gotten a little, I don’t want to say used to the pain but I am able to deal with the pain better than I was before.”
Cornerback Darrelle Revis says he also uses acupuncture as a treatment.
“It is fine,” Revis said of acupuncture. “It has its upside and downside to it. But that's something I use in the offseason.”
Ivory admits he was initially skeptical of acupuncture when he first tried it, but not anymore.
“Like I said, it has helped me so far,” he said.