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Acupuncture and Athletics

The goal of acupuncture is to bring an individual to a state of ease. A state of mental and physical clarity that leads to an overall state of well being. The symptoms of an individual’s ailments or disease are not simply treated or muted, but the root cause of the body’s imbalance is discovered, and the healing process begins there at the foundation. This outlook on correcting a problem goes hand in hand with the world of athletics and sports. If a track runner wants to be faster, he does not simply get new shoes. He works with coaches to correct his form and posture, he works with athletic trainers to correct injuries, and he focuses on nutrition to optimize his performance and open up his full potential in order to see results.

Athletes are becoming increasingly open to alternative therapies

Athletes are seeking alternative therapies outside of training and exercise in order to enhance their abilities. Mental health is being explored to increase focus and decrease anxieties, nutrition is becoming a staple in an elite athlete’s training regiment, and techniques such as acupuncture are being used to maintain balance between the mental, physical, and spiritual aspects of being an athlete. In fact, multiple studies have shown that after both immediate and prolonged treatment of acupuncture there is a statistically significant increase in muscular strength and firing speed. This could mean enhancing athletic performance naturally without harming their internal systems or violating any supplement or substance restrictions. Acupuncture has the potential be another tool in the arsenal of the elite athlete to separate themselves from their peers, and push them into a state of progression.

Everyone has experienced sore or tired muscles, but Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) can be an athlete’s worse enemy. It can effect your performance at practice the following day, it can prevent you from doing certain activities that will cause muscle soreness before performance or game time, and, well, it can make simple things like climbing stairs or brushing your hair seem nearly impossible. There is little use in trying to prevent this phenomenon. Every time you exercise you are causing small microscopic damage to your tissues, which brings about small amounts of inflammation and even lactic acid. Plenty of potassium and protein following exercise as well as hydration throughout your day will decrease the intensity, but every athlete that pushes themselves harder, faster, and stronger will experience this throughout their career.

Another alternative for speeding up the recovery process has proven to be acupuncture

Research has shown a faster pain recovery for those who utilize acupuncture when they have DOMS and in some cases, an even quicker return to full muscle function than those that didn’t.

In closing, if you are an athlete at any level, acupuncture can do wonders for you physically by increasing muscle performance and decreasing residual soreness after an intense work out. It can also assist in providing harmony, balance and mental clarity. Look for future blogs discussing how acupuncture can decrease performance anxiety and increase mental clarity before sporting events!


Article: Ergogenic Effect of Acupuncture in Sport and Exercise: A Brief Review
Shahin Almedov – School of Physical Education and Sport, Near East University, Nicosia, Turkey

Guest authors’ work is reviewed and edited by Ben Townsend.

Acupuncture for Acute and Other Injuries

acupuncture for acute and other injuries

Acute injuries can occur even when you’re taking all the necessary precautions. Whether you’re an athlete dealing with a sports related injury, or suffering from an injury due to everyday activities, acupuncture can help. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), connective tissues such as tendons, ligaments, and cartilage which surround the joints, are referred to collectively as sinews. When sinews become overly stretched or torn, acute injury may occur. TCM offers several treatments in overcoming acute injuries quickly and effectively (1).

  • Acupuncture
    Acupuncture works to encourage the movement of blood and energy (qi), which can become stagnant in areas afflicted with injury. Blood can also become stagnant, leading to pain and swelling. Stimulation of specific acupoints encourages qi and blood to flow freely again, perpetuating the healing process.
  • Herbs
    Herbs and herbal combinations can be beneficial not only in reducing inflammation, but also for restoring blood flow to the site of injury. Specific herbal formulas like san huang san work to encourage movement of any stagnant blood and reduce inflammation surrounding the injury, so you can get back to your daily activities and exercise more promptly.
  • Cupping
    Cupping is a form of body work using a glass cup, which creates a vacuum drawing blood to the surface. Cupping works to reduce pain and swelling, and in combination with acupuncture, also breaks through qi and blood stagnation to restore qi to damaged sinews.

But don’t just take our word for it

An increasing number of western medical studies have been published demonstrating the effectiveness of acupuncture on acute and sports-related injuries. Using advanced diagnostic techniques researchers have determined how acupuncture can be used effectively in the treatment of:

  • ruptured of muscle fiber (2)
  • Sports medicine (3)
  • Knee conditions (4)
  • Back pain (5,6)
  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome (7)

Acupuncture and Related Methods Applied in Sports Medicine: Exemplified by the Rupture of a Muscle Fiber, a study conducted by Regina Schwantiz, MD documented a case study involving a female athlete with a calf injury. The athlete was treated with a combination of western treatments and acupuncture. Acupuncture treatments continued for a week and on day 8, the athlete reported significant progress, with no pain during exercise and sonography confirming the healed injury. Furthermore, studies by L. Tyler Wadsworth, MD also support its use in healing sports related injuries.

With regard to knee conditions, acupuncture “may help athletes recover faster and more safely and improve sports performance and return to play”(4). Another study concluded that “acupuncture is an effective treatment for the pain and dysfunction of tarsal tunnel syndrome, and in some cases acupuncture treatment can negate the need for surgery” (7). And it doesn’t just stop with acute injuries. Several studies on low back pain, including a meta-analysis, have concluded that “acupuncture effectively relieves chronic low back pain” (5).  So whether you’re an athlete nursing an injury or suffering from everyday aches and pains, relief is possible through treatment.


  1. Bisio, Tom. A tooth from the tiger’s mouth : how to treat your injuries with powerful healing secrets of the great Chinese warriors. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004. Print.
  2. Schwanitz, Regina. “Acupuncture And Related Methods Applied In Sports Medicine: Exemplified By The Rupture Of A Muscle Fiber”. Medical Acupuncture 19.2 (2007): 105-108. Web. 19 July 2016.
  3. Wadsworth, L. Tyler. “Acupuncture in Sports Medicine.” Current Sports Medicine Reports 5:1-3 (2006). Web. 19 July 19, 2016.
  4. Chung, Gun; Binkley, Helen. “Acupuncture and Knee Conditions: A Review of the Literature.” Athletic Training & Sports Health Care 2.6 (2010): 278-286. Web. 21 July 2016.
  5. Manheimer, Eric. “Meta-Analysis: Acupuncture For Low Back Pain.” Annals of Internal Medicine 142.8 (2005): 651. Web. 21 July 2016.
  6. Swathy, S and V. Gowri Sethu. “Acupuncture and Lower Back Pain.” Research Journal of Pharmacy and Technology 8.8 (2015): 991. Web. 21 July 2016.
  7. Smith, Scott R. “Acupuncture in the Treatment of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome.” The Journal of Chinese Medicine 89 (2009): 19-25. Web. 21 July 21 2016.