Can Acupuncture Improve Exercise Performance?

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To improve exercise, exercise performance, and recovery after working out, men frequently try various things. Some of their choices include natural supplements, stretching, and massage. A new review article suggests acupuncture may improve exercise and the recovery process postexercise.

Acupuncture as therapy

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medicine method that has gained much acceptance in the modern Western world as a treatment for various health problems. It is based on the idea that life energy (known as chi or qi) flows through the body along channels called meridians. If the energy flow is blocked at any point, various symptoms can occur.

If you stimulate certain points along the meridians using acupuncture needles, you can open up these blockages. This in turn restores energy flow and can relieve symptoms. Therefore, if you experiencing headache, back pain, or chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome, acupuncture may be able to help.

Acupuncture to improve exercise

Use of acupuncture to improve exercise and exercise performance was the focus of four trials reviewed by the authors of a new study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. The total number of participants in the four studies was 84: 67 men and 17 women. Three of the studies evaluated how acupuncture affected exercise performance. One study looked at the impact of acupuncture on recovery from exercise.

Generally, the reviewers found that use of acupuncture used before or during exercise can improve exercise performance as well as speed up recovery after exercise. Specifically, the authors noted that electroacupuncture (which uses mild electric stimulation along with the needles) used in one trial greatly improved power and blood pressure.

In another trial, acupuncture had other benefits. They included a significant positive impact on heart rate, oxygen use, and blood lactate (a substance that contributes to muscle fatigue and soreness) after exercise, which helped recovery.

Why it is important to improve exercise

The benefits of regular exercise cannot be emphasized enough. Along with the ability of exercise to help with weight loss and improve heart health, physical activity can reduce prostate cancer risk, support better sex, and help ward off diabetes.

So why is this review study important? According to the authors, it provides “preliminary support for the use of acupuncture as a means to enhance exercise performance and post exercise recovery.” Techniques that support a man’s efforts to exercise are important to know. For men who want to improve exercise, exercise performance, and recovery, acupuncture may be worth investigating further.


Urroz P et al. Effect of acute acupuncture treatment on exercise performance and postexercise recovery: a systematic review. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2013 Jan; 19(1): 9-16