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Study Shows Acupuncture Enhances Endurance Athletics Performance

By: Vanessa Vogel Batt L.Ac. MSOM

Many people realize the value of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine to treat sports injuries, but did you know that this ancient medicine can actually enhance athletic performance?

In 2010, a German practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine specializing in sports injuries conducted a scientific study to measure how acupuncture affects a runner’s performance. The research paper "Improved Performance in Endurance Sports through Acupuncture" appeared in the German medical publication Sportverletz Sportschaden.

The study included 3 groups of participants, all of whom were runners. One group received acupuncture, another received placebo acupuncture treatments, while the last group did not undergo any treatment at all.

The methodology used to determine which group, if any, displayed improvement in their athletic performance is a bit tricky, so here’s a simple explanation:

For the trial, all the participants ran a distance of 5 kilometers once a week for a total of 4 weeks. At the start of the study the maximum pulse rates were taken for each runner. Their pulse rates were taken again right after finishing the run and 1, 2 and 5 minutes later. The pulse rates for each runner were then multiplied with their respective maximum rate. This new figure is what is known as the complexity factor. These calculations provided the basis on which the researcher could draw reliable conclusions.

While all 3 groups demonstrated positive results, it was the acupuncture group which displayed "highly significant" results in the area of athletic fortitude. Those lucky enough to be in this group yielded the most significant improvement in their running times and complexity factors. Thus, the researcher concluded definitively that acupuncture increases athletic performance in the domain of endurance sports.

Source: Benner, S., & Benner, K. (2010). Verbesserung der Leistungsfähigkeit durch Akupunktur im Ausdauersport. Sportverletzung · Sportschaden, 24(03), 140-143. doi:10.1055/s-0029-1245406

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About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.

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