How acupuncture affects sports performance?
There is a lot of dedication and hard work to achieve optimal athletic performance. Injuries, muscle tightness, muscle or joint instabilities, pain, fatigue or other health issues can interfere with one’s peak performance. Acupuncture has long been recognized for its ability to treat pain, and should be included as a complement to conventional pain management programs.
Achieving an appropriate balance between training, competition stress and recovery is important in maximizing the performance of athletes. Acupuncture’s biggest effect is through relaxation of the fight/flight (sympathetic) and promoting the restorative (parasympathetic) nervous systems. This affects cardiovascular function, both locally with the tissue being needled, and generally at the heart and metabolic levels. With some acupuncture points in particular, there is a strong reflex release of endorphins and the activation of the dompaninergic system in the central nervous system (amygdala and basal ganglia) – akin to a “runners high”. This explains why acupuncture is used for pain management and the feeling of well-being.
One study was done on elite university male basketball players. The result of the study showed acupuncture has significantly lowered the player’s heart rate max, VO2 max and blood lactic acid compared to the 2 groups that didn’t receive acupuncture. A study found that acupuncture applied during exercise exerted significant beneficial effects in peak power output, heart rate and blood pressure. The study also assessed recovery from aerobic exercise and found significant improvements in blood lactate levels, consumption of oxygen and heart rate following acupuncture.
More about acupuncture and performance here