6 Benefits of Acupuncture for Athletes

Updated: Jul 13

By Emmanuelle Sardou LAc./D.OM Sept. 16, 2019 |

Acupuncture is a holistic health technique that stems from Traditional Chinese Medicine practices in which trained practitioners stimulate specific points on the body by inserting thin needles into the skin. It can improve the body’s functions and promote the natural self-healing process by stimulating specific anatomic sites.

Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on an ancient philosophy that describes the universe, and the body, in terms of two opposing forces: yin and yang. When these forces are in balance, the body is healthy.

Energy, called “qi” (pronounced “chee”) flows along specific pathways, called meridians, throughout the body. This constant flow of energy keeps the yin and yang forces balanced. However, if the flow of energy gets blocked, like water getting stuck behind a dam, the disruption can lead to pain, lack of function, or illness.

Acupuncture can release blocked qi in the body and stimulate function, evoking the body’s natural healing response through various physiological systems. Modern research has demonstrated acupuncture’s effects on the nervous system, endocrine and immune systems, cardiovascular system, and digestive system.

What’s the secret to functioning at a performing athletic level? Acupuncture

Once only thought of as a last resort for people with low back pain, people with conditions varying from autoimmune diseases to generalized anxiety are now turning to acupuncture for help. This is especially true for active individuals. Athletes of all levels are embracing the benefits that acupuncture produces: quicker recovery time after strenuous workouts, help healing from injuries, less anxiety during competitions, and the list goes on and on.


1/ It relaxes tight muscles. If you asked me to give you a single reason why all athletes should get acupuncture, this would be my top choice. Tight muscles shorten in length and result in restricted range of motion. Pushing yourself to the limit with limited mobility is a recipe for injury, pain, and eventually time-consuming rehabilitation. While acupuncture has great ability to treat injuries, its best utilization is to prevent the injury before it occurs.


2/ It relieves pain. Acupuncture causes tiny micro traumas that stimulate the body’s natural painkilling response. The nervous system signals to the brain to release small amounts of pain-relieving chemicals (such as endorphins, norepinephrine, and enkephalin) that can be 10-100 times stronger than morphine!


3/ It increases circulation. Acupuncture increases the amount of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric Oxide causes the blood vessels to relax and to widen, thereby opening up the arteries. This allows better blood flow to the heart, lungs, muscles, and everything in between. Increased circulation equals increased oxygenation of cells, therefore allowing for increased athletic performance.


4/ It stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system. While we no longer live in a world where we get chased by bears on a regular basis, we do live in a world full of high stress. And guess what? Our bodies aren’t very good at differentiating between the two worlds. We continuously tax our sympathetic nervous system (our fight or flight response) and rarely give our parasympathetic nervous system a chance to do its job (rest and digest). This can eventually result in adrenal fatigue and can take a toll on your ability to push your body to its physical limits. Acupuncture sessions encourage parasympathetic nervous system activity – a perfect addition to an athlete’s rest day.


5/ It increases energy Although it’s common to find yourself in “aculand” — a somewhat dazed, blissfully-relaxed state — immediately following acupuncture treatment, the after effect is usually increased energy. Many people report having more energy in the hours, days and even weeks after acupuncture treatment. You may notice that you’re avoiding that post-lunch coma, feeling more motivated to hit the gym, or just sensing a little extra spring in your step.


6/ It increases mental clarity and focus. People who receive regular acupuncture state that they have more energy during the day, sleep better at night, and have an all over reduction in anxiety. This allows for better mental clarity and focus. As any competitor will tell you, mental clarity and focus is equally as important as strength and endurance during athletic competitions. Your body can only bring so much to the competition floor. Your ability to focus on the task at hand and remove any extraneous distractions directly correlates to your performance.

So there you have it. If you have hit a plateau in your performance or are looking for an extra edge on game day, try acupuncture. It will give you the boost you’re looking for.


Interested in giving Acupuncture a try? Emmanuelle Sardou LAc./ D.OM at Ïyasa Acupuncture, Acupuncture on the go - in home visits

Book your free 30 minutes info session at https://www.iyasaacupuncture.com/bookings-checkout/iyasa-free-info-session-1/book


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