Evaluation: Acupuncture for Athletes

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, June 1995

Evaluation: Acupuncture for Athletes
By Meredith Gould

By now, any variety of chronic pain or malaise might have led you to an acupuncturist with hopes that some 3,000-year-old needlework would take over where twentieth-century medicine left off. If you walked out feeling better and more balanced, consider what sports-specific acupuncture might do for your stamina in a marathon, performance in the pool, or recovery from a sprained ankle.

Among the notable athletes who have reaped the rewards of acupuncture are multiple-Ironman champions Paula Newby-Fraser and Dave Scott. "Acupuncture certainly has merit beyond our Western means," says Scott of his own experience. "A few needles in my ear and my hand, and I was off."

Whitfield Reaves, a founder of the National Sports Acupuncture Association and the man who applied the needles to Dave Scott, explains that the practice has been particularly successful in decreasing athletes' down-time due to injury. "Acupuncture helps to heal minor tissue damage before it turns into a major, debilitating injury," he explains.

Interested Western athletes can benefit from one or two regular sessions a month and some short-term postinjury work to facilitate recovery. For more information or a local referral, contact the National Sports Acupuncture Association, 5901 Christie, Suite 300, Emeryville, CA 94608; 510-547-1129.

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