Acupuncture is a treatment method regularly used by Physiotherapists to improve a wide range of conditions. Although it has been around for thousands of years, it is only recently that clinical studies have actually proved its effectiveness.
Athletes are always looking for an edge that will allow them to increase their performance, whether they are competing against others or simply challenging their own personal goals.
Thanks to the wonder of British Cycling and Team Sky, we all know the concept of marginal gains. This philosophy naturally encourages you to look for ways to improve that others don’t consider – all contributing to an improvement in performance. This generated a question. Does Acupuncture have a place for the ‘non-injured’ athlete as a method of performance enhancement, rather than just injury-fixing?
Strength, Power and Plyometrics
Acupuncture has been prove to give improvements in muscle strength and power – so, if you’re a sprinter, squash player, or body-builder, then acupuncture could be significantly helpful.
Plyometrics is basically power and strength training. This has been become increasingly popular amongst weight trainers and athletes that focus on bursts of energy and power.
Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
Although acupuncture hasn’t been shown to have a direct improvement on aerobic performance, it does have benefit both blood pressure and the heart rate. If you train by heart rate, it would be pretty easy for you to judge the effects for yourself.
There are some interesting studies on whether acupuncture improves flexibility. They all showed significant improvements in comparison to non-acupuncture treatment. If you know that you’re particularly ‘un-bendy’ and it’s affecting your preferred method of exercise, acupuncture is most certainly recommended.
Acupuncture can reduce muscle spasm and perceived pain levels. Therefore, if you’re trying to keep yourself in once piece for a particular event for example, then it can help you with injury-management. It is important that you allow the time for any injury to heel correctly after each treatment.
Courses of acupuncture (usually between 4 and 6 sessions) show to be the most effective, with single sessions on their own having much reduced effects. Get ahead of the crowd and book course of sessions to find out how well it works for you!