Acupuncture for the Athlete in You

This blog is dedicated to the Olympics! Read about how acupuncture can be an amazing resource for athletes to increase performance as well as deal with injuries.

Athletes and coaches are finding that acupuncture is a great tool for improving athletic performance and gaining advantage over their competition.  The San Fransico Giants (1) have employed a team acupuncturist from spring training through the end of the season to keep them on track. Five-time Olympian high jumper and licensed acupuncturist Amy Acuff (2) has been quoted as saying that the use of acupuncture has helped her longevity in the sport she loves.  These professional athletes have learned the value of adding acupuncture to their repertoire of treatments to keep them healthy and ward off further injury. From swimmers with rotator cuff injuries and low back pain, to runners with runner’s knee, plantar fasciitis and shin splints,  athletes who want to compete and recover much more quickly are seeking out acupuncture and making it a part of their healthcare routine.

As acupuncturists,  we know the benefits of our practice in the clinic.  Watching a patient on the table recover from a sprained ankle can be quite interesting. Many times we see swelling dissipate right after the first treatment and the patient is able to walk much better right from getting off the table.  Acupuncture reduces pain and swelling and bolsters the immune system to promote and shorten recovery time. Acupuncture also reduces stiffness and tension, thereby improving range of motion.

Many have begun to see acupuncture as a complement to Western methodologies while others see it as an alternative. Both views raise the profile of the practice while increasing the demand for licensed practitioners. Tendonitis, osteoarthritis and tennis elbow (3) have all been treated successfully through the use of acupuncture.

A research study on the impact of patient expectations on outcomes with respect to acupuncture showed that patients who expected a better outcome with acupuncture fared better than those who did not. This supports the mechanism of holistic therapies in using the strengths of the body, mind and spirit. Broader use of acupuncture for both amateur and professional athletes can support these positive patient expectations and outcomes (4).

Next time you have a sports injury try the ancient practice of acupuncture to speed recovery time and prevent another one from developing.



1-Acupuncture Scores Home Run With SF Giants -- Team Acupuncturist Keeps Players in the Game
Tina Beychok, Associate Editor
Acupuncture Today August, 2009, Vol. 10, Issue 08


3-Acupuncture and Sports Medicine, A Review of Published Studies
Alec Meleger, MD and Joanne Borg-Stein, MD
Medical Acupuncture Fall 1999 / Wiinter 2000- Volume 11 / Number 2

4-The impact of patient expectations on outcomes in four randomized controlled trials of acupuncture in patients with chronic pain.
Linde K, Witt CM, Streng A, Weidenhammer W, Wagenpfeil S, Brinkhaus B, Willich SN, Melchart D.
Centre for Complementary Medicine Research, Department of Internal Medicine II, Technische Universität München, Kaiserstr. 9, 80801 Munich, Germany. Klaus.Linde@lrz.tum.de

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