Acupuncture and Athletic Performance

Posted on Jan 9, 2018

Acupuncture and Athletic Performance

Many of the patients we see in the clinic are athletes. Cyclists, CrossFit enthusiasts, runners, gymnasts, baseball players, golfers- all come seeking acupuncture to improve performance, alleviate pain, or get them in the right mindset for competition. Acupuncture was in the news during the 2016 summer Olympics as the world watched athletes compete with prominent bruises from cupping all over their bodies. But, is acupuncture really beneficial for athletic performance?

Studies say yes. A 2009 study from Taiwan that investigated the effects of acupuncture 30 and 60 minutes post exercise for male basketball players. A significant decrease in heart rate, oxygen consumption (v02 max), and blood lactic acid levels were shown in the players that received acupuncture compared to the players who did not (Zen-Pin Lin et al, Am. J. Chin. Med. 37, 471 (2009)). In a 2010 study by Brenner evaluated acupuncture for marathon runners and found a significant increase in performance. In 1993, Ehrlich and Haber found that athletes that received acupuncture were able to perform at higher rates than those who did not. Even in sedentary patients, as shown by Gential, et. al in 2005, acupuncture was shown to have a notable effect on heart rate and performance at anaerobic threshholds (Sfara, Melanie, “The Use of Acupuncture in Sports Medicine” (2013). All Graduate Plan B and other Reports. 252.).

From our perspective (a less scientific one), acupuncture works by increasing blood and energy flow to the affected areas of the body. Points are selected to nourish the muscles and tendons, stimulate the channels, to enhance respiratory activity, and to balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. All this is done while relaxing comfortably in a recliner and our athletic patients leave feeling refreshed and ready to conquer their next goal.

If you are an athlete looking to speed up your recovery time and increase your performance, you can schedule your appointment with us online ( We look forward to working with you!