Acupuncture for Athletes
Acupuncture is a safe, effective way to heal the aches, pains and potential injuries that accompany an athletic lifestyle. It not only speeds up recovery time, but has also been found to boost performance. Acupuncture's major effects of decreasing inflammation, increasing circulation, boosting the immune system, and providing energy and serenity have proven invaluable to amateur and professional athletes alike.
How can acupuncture help?
Acupuncture Relieves Pain and Accelerates Healing
Injury to soft tissue is not uncommon for athletes. Even minor injuries can cause pain responses that sidetrack training and conditioning, or at the very least decrease optimal performance. Acupuncture treatment is associated with the release of beta-endorphins, naturally occurring opiates associated with pain modulation. In addition to naturally decreasing pain responses in the nervous system, acupuncture is also proven to decrease inflammation, increase circulation, and speed up healing of injuries.
Acupuncture Improves Aerobic Conditioning
In endurance sports such as marathon running, aerobic capacity and regulation of heart rate and blood pressure have been identified as critical factors to high level performance. In empirical research, acupuncture has been found to significantly improve all of these measures. One study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine found that acupuncture yielded significantly higher maximum performance capacity and significantly better performance at the anaerobic threshold compared with placebo and control groups. Researchers pointed to functional improvement in haemodynamic and metabolic mechanisms as the reasons for the change in performance.
Acupuncture Increases Flexibility
Flexibility is important in sport performance, and is believed not only to support performance but also to decrease the possibility of injury. It is also associated with efficient musculoskeletal function. Acupuncture, because of its influence on the nervous system, can be used in combination with PNF stretching to increase joint-specific flexibility.
For links to research studies and articles on these topics and more, see the Resources and related links section below.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture yields multiple biological responses, related to the stimulation of sensory neurons that connect to structures within the central nervous system. This leads to activation of pathways affecting various physiological systems in the brain as well as in the periphery. As was mentioned above, one response to this stimulation is the release of endorphins and other endogenous opioids, as well as activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system in particular is associated with improved activity of the immune system, stimulating accelerated healing of tissue as well as a greater sense of calm and well being. Stimulation with acupuncture has also been found to activate the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands, resulting in a broad spectrum of systemic effects that support general homeostasis. Improved blood flow, both centrally and peripherally, have also been documented. For more specific information on how acupuncture works to assist in optimal athletic performance, see the Resources and related links section below.
To learn more about acupuncture, take a look at our page About Acupuncture. To learn more about the Wisdom Traditions Acupuncture clinic, read About Us or Our Philosophy. If you have any additional questions, you can browse our FAQ or Contact Us. We're happy to answer any questions you may have. You can also Schedule an Appointment online.
Resources & Related Links
1/14/2023 11:19:55 pm
Grateful for you writing this blog.
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Marni Adhikari, M.Ac, L.Ac, Dipl.Ac, is the founder and acupuncturist at Wisdom Traditions Acupuncture of Essex Junction, VT