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Chinese Medicine Helping Athletes Improve Endurance & Recover Faster from Athletic Injuries

Athletes that take part in endurance sports such as long-distance running and soccer know that it’s not always skills that make for the best performance but how well their body copes with being put under intense pressure and stress for longer periods of time. Recent medical studies have highlighted a new way for athletes to improve their endurance by using an ancient medical technique. Within this blog, we’ll look at two distinct advantages to using acupuncture for Denver athletes looking for that added edge over the competition.


  1. Acupuncture Helps Athletes Sustain High Performance: 
    Recent studies have shown that by including acupuncture and Chinese Herbal medicine within their pre-game or pre-race/event training regime, athletes can stay at their maximal exercise capacity for longer, therefore ensuring consistent high performance during the participation in endurance sports. In addition, because acupuncture and specific Chinese medicinals and herbal formulas have been associated with the vasodilation of the peripheral blood vessels, both of these modalilites can help to reduce blood pressure during the sporting activity and increase blood flow and circulation throughout the body for superior energy (Microcirculation, 2009 May, 26:1-10). Also, enhanced blood flow and circulation to the extremities can also be achieved by applying very specific acupuncture techniques to the muscle groups of the extremities thereby Improving power and endurance in both the upper and lower extremities and improving and increasing body coordination for sports that involve jumping, throwing & multi-directional movements, such as: skiing, swimming, gymnastics, rock climbing, basketball, lacrosse, soccer and dancing.

    Research  has also demonstrated that acupuncture has been associated with lower concentrations of blood lactate levels and lower heart rates at both sub-maximal and maximal exercise, in addition to decreasing “delayed-onset-muscle soreness” (DOMS) following intense bouts of exercise (Pelham, 2001).  According to another study coming out of Taiwan, acupuncture enhances athletic recovery post-exercise.  Results from the study,  showed that both maximum heart rate and blood lactic acid concentrations were significantly lower in the group receiving acupuncture compared with the control group, at 30 and 60 minutes post-exercise (Effects of auricular acupuncture on heart rate, oxygen consumption and blood lactic acid for elite basketball athletes. Am J Chin Med. 2011; 39(6):1131-8).

    These specific Sport and Athletic Enhancing acupuncture protocols might be of benefit, support and enhancement to both your training and/or time of competition, as well as, increasing and enhancing your ability to perform your given sport. The protocols involve the application of Traditional Chinese & Korean acupuncture techniques, as well as, motor point and trigger point therapy via acupuncture, coupled with the knowledge of anatomy, orthopedics and sports medicine.
  2. Acupuncture utilized for Pain Management and Injury Recovery
    Acupuncture can manage pain experienced from overuse &/or athletic injury. Acupuncture can potentially address and support the underlying cause of your pain to begin the healing process. We directly address muscle and connective tissue utilizing Acupuncture (Motor Point Therapy & Trigger Point Therapy) combined with an Asian body work called "Tui Na" which utilizes a manual muscle therapy that activates specific acupuncture, trigger and motor points, to release and address tight, sore, injured connective and muscle tissue.

    Injury Recovery
    - Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine (Internal & External/topical) speeds the healing of injured muscles & connective tissues such as tendons, ligaments and even bone! Powerful and effective Chinese herbal liniments made from Chinese Medicinals (herbs & minerals) are often utilized in the treatment protocol which help to heal the injured area at it's core, and reduce and relieve pain and swelling especially in between acupuncture visits to optimize and speed the healing process.


Combining western medical orthopedic evaluation with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is essential. To understand the etiology of a patient’s injuries, we utilize Western Orthopedic assessments such as, Range of Motion, Manual Muscle Testing, postural analysis and “stress” and "compression" tests to different ligaments and joints. This helps to not only reveal the site of injury, but also to help differentiate an injury from similar presenting conditions. Integrating these two medical systems increases the likelihood that the Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Herbal treatment is directed at the primary lesion.


A regimen of acupuncture and Chinese herbal Medicine can help to reduce the pain related sports injuries, as well as, reduce recovery time. This sports medicine breakthrough assures Denver athletes a great advantage when competing against others who haven’t undergone gone similar therapeutic modalities.


Discover hidden sporting potential by contacting our local Sports Medicine acupuncture expert today at Healing Traditions Oriental Medicine and Wellness and experience the outstanding benefits acupuncture can provide for enhancing athletic and sporting performance.



Studies on Acupuncture to Enhance Athletic Performance


  • Ear Acupuncture Enhances Athletic Recovery - Effects of auricular acupuncture on heart rate, oxygen consumption and blood lactic acid for elite basketball athletes. Am J Chin Med. 2011;39(6):1131-8). http://www.jcm.co.uk/research-archive/article/ear-acupuncture-enhances-athletic-recovery-1925/
  • Akimoto, T., Nakahori, C., Aizawa K., (August, 2003). Acupuncture and the Response of Immunologic and Endocrine Markers During Competition. Medical Science in Sports and Exercise, 35, 1296-1302
  • Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California Los Angeles, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, California. “Responses of Nitric Oxide-cGMP Release in Acupuncture Point to Electroacupuncture in Human Skin In Vivo Using Dermal Microdialysis.” In Microcirculation, 2009 May 26:1-10.
  • Pelham, T., Holt, L., Stalker, R., (2001). Acupuncture in Human Performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 15(2) (pp 266-271)


  • Resourced from Article written by: Diane Joswick, L.Ac., MSOM, Acufinder
    • Studies have shown that acupuncture has measurable effects on the flow of blood to certain areas of the body, which could in turn boost athletic performance. One such study conducted at the Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine involved athletes running 5,000 meters, and afterwards sitting for acupuncture treatments before they had a chance to catch their breath. The heart rates of the athletes who received the treatments recovered more quickly than those in the control group. 
    • Another study published in the American Journal of Acupuncture measured the effects of acupuncture on anaerobic threshold and work capacity during exercise in healthy young males. Researchers found that individuals in the acupuncture treatment group had higher maximal exercise capacity and were able to perform higher workloads at the onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA) than individuals in the placebo group. The individuals that received acupuncture also had lower heart rates.
    • A recent study published in the January, 2008 issue of the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine examined the effects of acupuncture on cyclists. Twenty young (between 18 and 30 years of age) male cyclists underwent three tests per week, riding a stationary bike for 20 kilometers as fast as possible. The volunteers were divided into three groups that either received acupuncture, sham acupuncture or no acupuncture. Acupuncture points were chosen on the basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine and administered immediately before cycling. Sham acupuncture was shallow needling of known acupoints. Not only did the study show that the group that received acupuncture had a higher RPE (Rates of Perceived Exertion) scores compared to the other tests. The men receiving the real acupuncture treatments completed their cycling tests at a higher acceleration than the others.



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