There is growing research evidence that acupuncture works to promote performance before competition and in recovery after training. Although the acupuncture effect is not limited to cycling and running, the research has focused on these areas.
Cycling Performance: Acupuncture was shown to create an economical effect on heart function in cyclists, decreasing heart rate and increasing stroke volume. Here, lactic acid metabolism was delayed due to the increased performance of the cardiovascular system and better tissue blood distribution.
Another study found cyclists’ perceived exertion after acupuncture was higher, which gave lower time and lower pain perception. A single needle leg treatment reduced the 1000 meter time for cyclists in an ergometer experiment.
Running Performance: Acupuncture significantly increased performance in 5000 metre runners. They called this phenomenon “the complexity factor”, where both pulse rate and run-time was significantly reduced together10 Acupuncture increased performance in shorter events too, such the 800 metres.
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 done from Birinder Singh Cheema and colleagues (University of Western Sydney) 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.
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