Author: Valley Health Clinic

The Best Exercise

The Best Exercise

One way to see through all the BS that is out there is you remember this nugget of goodness. There is little cross over between activities.

What I mean is that the best way to get good at something, is to do that thing. Another way of putting it is, like improves like.

So for example you will see articles like “5 Exercises To Improve Your Running”. If those exercises don’t look like running, there will be little cross over to running.

Another way to put it is, Do things that look like the thing you want to improve. They will have more benefits than doing something that doesn’t.

Let me give you some examples. (this hold true for healthy individuals, I will talk about sick or injured at the end)

  • Static breath holds on land, doesn’t transfer to improved freediving breath-hold underwater.
  • Speed training with ladders/ hurdles doesn’t have transfer to improved speed In a game.
  • Proprioception trained doesn’t transfer better balance.
  • Dynamic stretching doesn’t transfer to improved static flexibility.
  • Static stretch doesn’t transfer to improved dynamic flexibility.

A good rule of thumb

  • Practice that main activity you want to get better at.
  • Do support activities that look like that main activity.
  • Do micro activities that look like a part or piece of your main activities.

If you want to get better at jumping

  • Step 1) Practice jumping.
  • Step 2) Do Support Activities (Box jumping/squats/dynamic stretching)
    • Box jumps. mimic the neurological coordination of a jump (looks like a jump).
    • Squats use the same muscle and neurological firing (looks like jumping).
    • Dynamic stretching increases ROM in a way that is similar to jumping.
  • Step 3) Micro activities or break it down into parts. (Hand swing, Feet set up. or calf raises)

Now if you are injured you may not be able to perform an activity. That is when step 2 or 3 come into play.

  • Static breath holds on land are helpful if you can’t do diving breath-hold underwater.
  • Speed training with ladders/ hurdles can improve speed In a game, If the movement is similar to the movement in game and you can’t do the game.
  • Proprioception trained does give you better balance, If you have a proprioception injury and can’t balance.
  • Static stretch is helpful if you can’t do dynamic stretching, because of pain.

So the next time you see an article about the next exercise that will fix all your problems, remember there is little crossover between activities. The more something looks like the activity, the more transfer it will have to that activity.

Pros and Cons of Fighting Stances

Pros and Cons of Fighting Stances by Valley Health Clinic

“Stance maketh the fighter.”

Mark my words! If you want to learn just one thing about fighting—learn to perfect your stance.

The Stance

Your stance is just your unique way of being ready to move. It is the starting point of all your martial movement. To combat at your best, it is mandatory to find, understand, and master your starting position.

Attempting one-on-one combat, or martial arts without a proper stance is much like doing a max deadlift without properly securing core.

Always remember, my beautiful reader, that the stance you choose is your foundation. A proper stance allows you to move powerfully—yet effortlessly, while smoothly transferring force from your body to your extremity.

The more professional fighters would tell you that your stance is dependent on your fighter-type. For example, a fighter such as Stephen Thompson has perfected a Karate-style stance, which enables the American MMA artist to deploy certain kicks to their highest effect.

However, you should always avoid copying your favorite boxer. Yes, it is super inspirational to watch Jon Jones and Khabib do their thing with such swiftness—but you must perfect the stance that will cover your weaknesses, while front loading your strengths.

Therefore, whether you’re a boxer, MMA/Muay Thai practitioner, or just someone looking to better their self-defense, it always pays to have a good understanding of different stances.

So let’s dive straight into the pros and cons of different types of fighting stances, and how you can perfect them.

Different Fighting Stances. Their Benefits. Their Disadvantages!

Keep in mind that people will tend to show you their weapons.

What do I mean by that?

When you know the basics of different types of stances, it can help you foreshadow your opponent’s moves in combat. Your opponent will stand in a way that will make their favorite attacks more accessible. If you love front foot side kicks, you will tend to stand with your front foot already turned to the side.

If you love to grapple you will tend to stand with your shoulders square to your opponent, which allows for equal reach with both hands.

Let’s start with your basic stance with feet shoulders width apart, and hands by your side.

In this position you are not showing any weapons, with your ‘natural’ posture, except for the possibility of forward head movement. As you can see, your stance is made up of your:

  • Hands
  • Knees
  • Feet
  • Shoulders

Now, let’s roll out the details:

Knee Depth Determines the Range of Your Distance

The more your knees are bent, the more distance one can cover in combat. Consider it like a box-jump vs a jump rope. Before doing a box jump you will bend your knees and your feet will be flat on the ground. This position loads your hamstrings and glutes to jump.

On the other hand, having a less bent knee would result in a jump rope-style movement. Weight is shifted to your toes and power is generated more for the quads and calves.

Therefore if someone is coming at you with deeply bent knees, he/she is more likely to lunge at you.

Alternatively, if someone is standing tall, then movement would naturally look more like a skip slip or hop in and out of your range.

Visualize a cobra in motion—more the coil, more the spring!

Wider Stance

Wide StanceThe super-wide stance is fantastic for transferring your weight into powerful punches. The body has a more stable base which it can push from. The wide base allows for a lean. It increases the range of motion of your head while decreasing the motion of your hips. The angle of force from your legs also allows for easier side to side motion.

Kicks will be more difficult to execute because a large weight shift has to occur before you can lift your foot off the ground.

If someone with a wide stance they will tend to be a more hand dominant fighter.

Narrow Stance

Narrow StanceCarrying a narrow stance enables you to generate force upwards, as it is easier to pick up one’s feet. Less weight transfer is involved before you can unload a foot.

A compact stance increases the movement of the hips and decreases lean of the head. The body is in a natural hula hoop position. This makes kicking easier and more powerful.

Hands do not offer a lot of power, when the feet are narrowly placed.

When you see your someone coming at you with a narrow stance, probably, they like to kick!

The Position of Hands

Higher Hands
As the hands are raised, or come closer to level with the shoulder, they progressively become more powerful. For instance, if hands are located at or above the shoulder they’re in a more natural position for pushing or grabbing. Waste twisting from this position generates more force, think of a baseball throw. This also allows punches to be thrown with more force.

Yet with hands around the head, it is difficult to quickly move the head out of the way. The weight of the hands adds momentum to the upper half of the body. Locking the hands up by the face tends to also lock the shoulders and ribs in place. Blocking is done either by moving the hands or the whole body. Mike Tyson boxes like this and ducks his whole body from the knees.

When the hands are below the chest area, one can move the head quickly because the hands can move independently of the head and do not add significantly to the upper body momentum. Muhammad Ali keeps his hands relatively lower and just slips his head. With the hands lower one can more easily move the neck and shoulders.

For instance, if a boxer is slipping, he/she would fight with lower hands. You can spot wrestlers and Jiu Jitsu practitioners deploying lower hands because lower hands enable them to do a takedown defense.

Sideways Stance

Sideways StanceWhen a sideways stance is utilized the front hand and rear foot (the main offensive weapons) are prominent. The front hand is jab and hook dominant while the rear hand is acting as a counter. This is because from this position the rear hand/shoulder is farthest away. It has less reach than the front, which makes it a defensive weapon. To utilize the rear hand, one must wait until the target is very close or the upper torso must rotate awkwardly to close the distance to the target. Grappling is less likely as only one hand is able to reach the opponent. A sideways stance enables rapid motion perpendicular to the direction the torso is facing but makes circling movement difficult.

Sideways Stance with a Toe Pointing Sideways

Many people use this stance to fake an attack. With the toe inline with the shoulder the leg is in a very strong position for moving forward and back. Often the front foot will need to be rotated forward to kick and that is their “tell”.

With the toe inline with the shoulder or sideways, means a side kick or back spin kick can be launched easily. It is hard to sprawl or go for a takedown with the toe point sideways because the knee can’t bend forward.

Sideways Stance with a Toe Pointing Forward

This is a commonly used fencing position. The front foot forward allows the knee to bend and hips to rotate forward. The rear foot is able to launch more powerful kicks, like front kicks or roundhouse.

The forward-pointing toe enables a greater knee bend of the front leg, which allows one to shoot in for a takedown or sprawl.

Furthermore, as the stance narrows, the user is in a position to defend against kicks with their front leg. This stance is often deployed by Muay Thai practitioners.

However, it is difficult to launch a spin kick from that position. A “tell” if a spin kick or sidekick is coming is if you see the front foot rotate front pointing forward to the side.

Sideways Chest Forward Stance

Sideways Chest Forward StanceMore commonly known as the bladed position in the realm of boxing. This stance provides protection while moving, defending, and attacking due to the limited exposure of the torso. However, as you can see in the picture, it neutralizes the ability to throw impactful kicks or drop down to inflict a takedown.

Therefore, whenever you see your foe assuming this position, brace yourself for a bout with a boxer!

Square Stance

When a square stance is adopted, the feet are pointing forward. This allows for the user to easily lunge into the opponent. It also assists with quick level changes. Moreover, the right arm becomes an offensive weapon instead of merely a defensive one, because it is in equal distance to the opponent.

Boxers adopt the square stance since they attack more with their right hand.

Square StanceGrapplers also use it because it’s easier to grab a person from a square position than from a sideways stance, as the waist does not have to be completely rotated beforehand.

Moreover, boxers generally keep their hands high, which allows him to be offensive. Conversely, the wrestlers and BJJ people keep their hands low when assuming a square position, which helps them with takedown defenses, and allows them to shoot in.

Furthermore, a square position makes the rear leg and rear arm a potent weapon. However, since the chest is in a forward position, it is difficult to execute spin kicks.

I hope now you have the basic understanding of different fighting stances, and which one suits your style of combat.

Fighting Stances Overview

Knee bend determines the distance

  • Deeper Knee bend allows for larger lung step, like a jump on a box, getting close (take down, fencing lunge)
  • Less knee, more rebound, more bounce, jump rope or running. Slipping out of range

Hand Position

  • Hands Higher, Hight Center of Gravity, Elbows and Head defense
  • Hands lower, Lower center of gravity. Allow for greater head movement and takedown defense. Wrestler and Jujitsu, counter fighters
  • Front/square stance backhand, front foot in the game
  • Sideways/ln-line back hand out. Back foot in the game

Wide stance

  • Wide stance movement is more side to side
  • The wide stance is more head/hand radius
  • Wide stance more hand power
  • Faster footwork movement


  • Slower kick because weight is too wide. A lot of weight shit before can pick up feet

Narrow stance

  • Narrow stance movement is more up and down or kicking
  • Narrow stance more Hip Radius
  • Narrow stance more kicking power
  • Feet closer together can throw kicks faster because less weight shifts off the foot.
  • Slower foot work harder to spring in and out


  • Less power in hands

Feet Squared

  • Increases reach of rear hand for grabbing boxing wrestling.
  • Squared allows for better circling movement
  • Easier Head movement side to side
  • Squared stands allow for level changes and takedown


  • Bigger target for straight kicks
  • Harder Head movement forward and back

Feet Inline

  • Better and moving backing up and forward
  • Quick spinning kicks and sidekicks
  • Sideways/ in-line stand. Front hand more distance. Jab and left hooks counter fighter means opponents need to come in
  • Smaller target


  • Open to takedowns (harder to sprawl)
  • Lead leg open to low kicks hard to check and bend when kicked
  • Hard to move laterally more in and out.

Back Foot Position

Back foot on or close to on centerline

  • Back foot on or close to on centerline spinning/ waist twist backward is quicker. (front foot will be sideways for stability)

Back foot forward form center line

  • Back foot forward form center line, waste twist forward
  • Off-center roundhouse kicking (front foot will be more forward)

Front Foot Position

Front Foot Forward

  • Front foot forward easy to lunge and takedown, back foot roundhouse or front kick.
  • Harder to move back because harder to push off a front foot.
  • Front Forward easier to twist forward for front and roundhouse kicks.
  • Front forward easier to check kicks

Front Foot Sideways

  • Front foot in/sideways easier to twist away, spinning back kicks, side kicks jabs, and front hooks. Because foot doesn’t need to pivot.
  • Front food in/sideway easer to move backward

Exercise Alternatives: Get the Benefits Without the Drawbacks

Exercise Alternatives: Get the Benefits Without the Drawbacks

Download our Free Instructional Guide

Learn six simple, low-intensity activities for less pain, and more comfort in your body.

While sports acupuncturists spend ample time working with athletes, we also regularly help patients who are living with chronic illness. And one of the key components of successful treatment for these clients is exercise.

Many chronically ill and elderly patients experience tiredness, pain, and even compromised immune systems after a bout of exercise. That’s why, as acupuncturists, we often recommend exercise alternatives.

These alternatives can provide similar benefits as exercise without the negative effects.

Understanding Exercise and Illness

From athletes functioning at peak health to people coping with chronic illnesses, physical activity is a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. But rewarding daily exercise looks different for these two populations.

That’s because moderate and intense exercise affects a healthy body and a sick body differently.

How Exercise Normally Works

For an athlete, and for the average healthy person, exercise works in the following way:

  • Moderate and high-intensity workouts push the body up to and beyond its limits. Muscle tissue breaks down, and your system enters a state of stress.
  • After breaking your body down, your healthy immune and nervous systems kick into repair mode. You begin to recover.
  • Once you fully recover, you’re stronger, faster, or more flexible than you were before. You can start the cycle over again, increasing your performance ability each time.

How Exercise Works in Chronic Illness

Exercise doesn’t work the same way for someone who is chronically ill. To understand why you have to understand how the body processes stress.

To our bodies, stress comes in many different forms. We can experience physical stress, mental stress, or emotional stress. We can experience stress that lasts only moments, or stress that lasts years.

But internally, our nervous systems and body structures handle all of those types of stress in the same way. Stress incurred from a chronic inflammation looks much the same to our nervous system as stress from a 10-mile run.

For example, rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and fibromyalgia seem to have dysfunctions in the autonomic nervous system trending toward increased sympathetic nervous system activity. Research also shows that by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system you will have a decreased inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis, and improves sleep in fibromyalgia (Manuel, et al Koopman)

This higher sympathetic tone never allows the body to fully enter into the recovery phase in order to heal from intense exercise. So what can make a healthy person grow stronger can my another person just hurt more.

Phases of Exercise

There are some basic phases of exercise that can be helpful to understand.

In the first phase of exercise is metabolic changes. Your muscles begin to use up oxygen through glycolysis. This will signal the release of adenosine and nitric oxide which will dilate peripheral blood vessels surrounding the muscles. This sends a signal to dilate upstream vessels. As the body works it will also release CO2 which will act on the hemoglobins and make it easier for them to release oxygen back into the muscles. (Nitric Oxide and Adenosine are two major players in the health benefits of Acupuncture)

The second phase of exercise is autonomic changes. The peripheral dilation of blood vessels in the muscles causes a slight drop in blood pressure which will then stimulate the sympathetic nervous system. This signal is widespread and has many functions. It raises the blood pressure by increasing heart rate and redistribution of blood flow. There are approximately 2 liters of extra blood stored in our veins and organs. The sympathetic system will constrict these tissue to release blood and increase blood flow back to the heart which will allow it to expand and contract harder.

The redistribution of blood goes as follows. The blood flow to the brain will stay the same. There will be an increase in blood flow to the skin and muscles. The key here is that moderate exercise will slightly increase blood to the GI and Kidneys but with intense exercise, there will be decrease blood to gut and kidney and bladder.

The third phase of exercise is hormonal changes. Hormonal changes are slower acting and occur much later in prolonged exercise.

It is important to think about this progression when exercising because we need to make sure the body can tolerate each phase.

Alternatives to Traditional Exercise

Instead of hitting the treadmill or grabbing the weights, people who are chronically ill can use these alternatives to get similar exercise benefits in a controllable manner.


When you exercise, you put stress on your bones, muscles, and ligaments. That stress can come from repetitive impact (as in running and jumping) or from repetitive flexion and extension (as in weight-lifting).

For many individuals with chronic illnesses that affect the bones, such as arthritis, and those that affect connective tissue, like inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, this repetitive strain causes more harm than good.

However, your body needs some amount of stress on its bones and tissues in order to maintain and build up density. Density maintenance is especially important for those who have arthritis or early signs of osteoporosis.

The best example of a vibration-type exercise is the shaking and patting you see top athletes do before a race or competition. Shaking out, and patting down, a muscle group or part of your body gets it engaged in much the same way as more strenuous exercise.


Hot and cold water work in similar ways to exercise by triggering vasodilation and constriction.

Applying cold water stimulates the kidneys and adrenal glands and creates vasoconstriction (the shrinking of your blood vessels). It is helpful in pain management because it reduces the amount of blood flow to painful areas.

Ice-cold water is also known to trigger a sympathetic nervous system response (fight-or-flight). This response releases endocannabinoids in the brain, which is the same mechanism behind the euphoria known as “runner’s high.”

On the other side of the coin, hot water creates vasodilation (the expanding of your blood vessels). Vasodilation promotes healing by increasing blood flow. It also improves heart function and has been shown to be helpful in treating COPD.

The simplest form of hydrotherapy is hot and cold showers. This is something you can do at home to engage your nervous system and trigger vasoconstriction or dilation. Cold showers shouldn’t be freezing, but it should be cold enough to feel invigorating. Research shows that even moderately cold temperatures still provide benefits.

If cold showers don’t sound appealing, here’s a tip: start your shower warm, like you normally would. Slowly, turn the water to a colder temperature. This allows your body to get used to the cold water more gradually, rather than shocking your system all at once.


Certain breathing techniques can trigger the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems in similar ways to exercise. Other methods can help increase adrenaline without triggering the harmful release of cortisol. Imagine getting into a cold bath: you quickly breath in. Imagine getting into a warm bath: you relax and blow a big breath out.

Breathing techniques can work in two ways: stimulating your parasympathetic nervous system or stimulating your sympathetic nervous system.

When you exhale, you trigger your parasympathetic nervous system, and vice versa. You might notice that you sigh when you’re stressed or you sigh when you feel relaxed. It is a way for your body to comfort itself and express comfort.

On the other hand, inhaling triggers the sympathetic nervous system. When you’re scared you hold your breath. When you are surprised you quickly breath in. Taking an exaggerated inhale sends a signal to your body to trigger the sympathetic nervous system, or the “fight and flight” system.

There’s a lot more to learn about breathing and how you can use breathing techniques to trigger certain responses in your body. To read more, click here.


When we think of exercise, we think of movement. For chronically ill patients, movement in exercise is more gradual and less intense than for others. But these less intense movement exercises can have the same benefits as more strenuous movement workouts. The key benefit of movement is getting your blood flowing to all parts of your body.

Movement exercises that you can do if you’re chronically ill, without triggering harmful side effects, include:

  • Walking
  • Stretching
  • Lifting low-level weights
  • Using exercise bands
  • Yoga

How to Exercise with Chronic Illness

If you have an ongoing condition or you know someone who does, it’s important to understand how you should and should not exercise.

Don’t Wear Yourself Out

For most people, the goal of a good workout is to push your body just past its limits, to the point that you feel worn out. That’s when you know that you’re body has been adequate stressed or broken down and with rest will enter into a state of recovery, building up stronger muscles.

But for people who are chronically ill, that “worn-out” point is the danger zone because the increase sympathetic tone impairs the recovery phase. Since your body is already trying to cope with a chronic state of illness, it will struggle to recover from the added stress of working out.

Moderation is Key

So how do you achieve your exercise goals if you can’t push yourself past the point of comfort? The key is moderation.

If you have a goal of walking four miles this week, don’t pack all four miles into one day. Instead, break up those four miles into the smallest increments you can. You might walk half a mile in the morning and half a mile at night, and repeat the pattern every other day.

In this way, you’ll never find yourself worn out, but you can still set goals for yourself and push yourself to achieve more. As your tolerance for exercise increases, you’ll be able to walk longer distances without risking exhaustion.

Good Days and Bad Days

If you’re older, or if you have a chronic illness, you’ll know that some days, you feel healthier than others. Likewise, there may be certain times of the day when you feel stronger and more capable of exercise.

When you’re scheduling your exercise times, try to keep your activities within these “good” times, and stay away from the “bad” ones. Your bad days and hours are times when your body needs all of its energy reserves to rest and heal.

Know the Goal

It’s key to remember your goal when you’re engaging in physical activity, even if it isn’t strenuous work. If you start to feel like going through these exercise alternatives isn’t giving you the benefits you want, it may be time to try another method.

Remember that the point of exercise alternatives is to give you the benefits of exercise like improved blood flow, lowered cholesterol, and enhanced mood.

Do Sports Acupuncturists Work with Chronically Ill Patients?

Just as the name suggests, sports acupuncturists spend much of their time working with high-level athletes.

But the nature of Acupuncture makes it an ideal treatment for not only healthy individuals undergoing acute physical stress but for those who are experiencing chronic physical distress, too.

Upon first glance, treating high-level athletes and treating chronically ill patients may seem worlds apart. However the two methodologies revolve around the same acupuncture tenants.

Martínez‐Lavín, Manuel, et al. “Circadian studies of autonomic nervous balance in patients with fibromyalgia: a heart rate variability analysis.” Arthritis & Rheumatism: Official Journal of the American College of Rheumatology 41.11 (1998): 1966-1971.

Koopman, Frieda A., et al. “Restoring the balance of the autonomic nervous system as an innovative approach to the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.” Molecular Medicine 17.9-10 (2011): 937-948.

The Ultimate Warm-Up

A daily exercise routine does not have to be strenuous. Sign up to learn warm-up exercises that will help you stay in good shape, relieve stress and help get the day started on a high note.

Ingredients, History & Benefits of Evil Bone Water (Zheng Gu Shui)

Ingredient of Evil Bone Water

What is Zheng Gu Shui?

Developed by a Chinese Master Herbalist over 500 years ago, Zheng Gu Shui is used today to treat pain and trauma. It successfully heals injuries related to muscles, bones, and joints, such as backaches, arthritis, strains, bruises, sprains, and breaks. Zheng Gu Shui is an external analgesic salve and is a must-have for everyone’s first aid cabinet.

Evil Bone Water is well known in martial arts and sports medicine circles for its quick and effective healing properties and pain relief. Used by martial artists to aid in the healing of iron fist training, it is believed to stimulate circulation, reduce pain and swelling, and improve the healing of injuries and wounds.

Today the most common applications for Zheng Gu Shui involve traumatic injuries, bruises, and sprains. However, many people have found Zheng Gu Shui helpful for common ailments like carpal tunnel and arthritis.

The Origins of Evil Bone Water and Why It Is Better Than Zheng Gu Shui

Evil Bone Water has made a splash in the Chinese medical community. This popularity is because its premium herbs are ethically sourced. In addition, the quality of ingredients is upgraded to surpass traditional Zheng Gu Shui.

Practitioners are discovering how to use Evil Bone Water for martial art conditioning, such as in iron fist training. Meanwhile, western practitioners are learning to use it clinically for arthritis and joint pain.

The original formula of Zheng Gu Shui had 26 ingredients. These ingredients were local to the herbalists who made the topical, and there wasn’t enough to support high-quantity production. Eventually, the demand for Zheng Gu Shui became too high for local herbalists to supply. Mass-market herbalists took the product to the commercial market but had to lower the quality of the product. They removed all but 7 of the original ingredients in the traditional Zheng Gu Shui formula.

We recognized the ineffectiveness of this product. Essential ingredients were left out, making the liniment sub-par. Evil Bone Water rose to the challenge of creating the most effective product on the market by including four essential ingredients mass-market herbalists leave out of their formulas.

What Are the Ingredients in Evil Bone Water?

We have provided a complete ingredient list of Evil Bone Water, including supplemental information regarding each ingredient used. In addition, we explain why each component is used and what benefit it provides.

Zhang Nao, Camphor, Cinnamomum Camphora

Zhang Nao, Camphor, Cinnamomum Camphora

Increases local circulation and relieves pain. Camphor is a natural product derived from the
wood of the camphor Laurel Tree (Cinnamomum camphora L.) It increases circulation and relieves pain.

The trees that Camphor is derived from are 50 years old. First, the camphor laurel tree’s wood is steamed or roasted. Then those vapors are caught and condensed to capture the volatile oils.

Zhang Nao is highly graded, medical quality camphor and a key ingredient Zheng Xie Gu Shui.
Genuine, medicinal-grade, natural Camphor only comes from trees that grow in Southeast Asia. Other regions cannot grow trees with enough medicine to make harvesting for Camphor worthwhile.

The synthetic version of Camphor is made from the stumps of the southern pine tree. It is produced through a chemical process similar to turpentine. However, the difference between synthetic and natural Camphor is striking. While natural turpentine oil from southern pine trees has some healing properties, it is unsafe to use directly on the skin. Unfortunately, synthetic Camphor became popular because it is less expensive to produce. In addition, Southern Pine trees are more abundant than Camphor Laurel trees, making it possible to produce larger quantities of synthetic Camphor.

Fun Fact About Synthetic Camphor

In WWII, Camphor was used in the U.S. as a critical component in insect repellant. The prices for natural Camphor skyrocketed since the commodity was only produced in Southeast Asia. The demand was so high its value exceeded that of gold! However, scientists in America found a way to synthesize Camphor from the Southern Pine Tree stump, the same tree that produces medicinal-grade turpentine oil. To this day, the discovery of synthesis is the only thing that keeps Zhang Nao’s prices regulated!

Bo He Nao, Menthol, Menthae Haplocalycis Herba

Bo He Nao, Menthol, Menthae Haplocalycis Herba

This ingredient is aromatic and provides cooling and clears heat from the body. Vent rashes are used in the early stage of inflammation to induce the rash to come to the surface and vent heat, leading to a speedy recovery. Menthol is a derivative of peppermint and is either extracted as oil or synthesized.

San/Tian Qi, Notoginseng,Pseudoginseng

San/Tian Qi, Notoginseng, Pseudoginseng

San Qi stops bleeding and eliminates blood stasis. It also reduces swelling, bruising, inflammation, and pain from trauma.

San Qi is expensive and is as hard as a rock. It takes special handling to extract it properly, however its healing benefits are worth the trouble. San Qi stops bleeding without clotting and reduces swelling and pain. It also has some profound synergistic effects with antiviral and antibacterial herbs.

In Chinese medicine, San Qi has been reported to have several benefits, including reducing thrombogenicity and arrhythmias and increasing erythrocyte deformability. Additionally, San Qi has been said to be an antioxidant, which can counteract free radical damage associated with atherogenesis and myocardial injury seen with ischemia and reperfusion. These pharmacologic effects explain why this essential healing herb has been used to treat circulatory disorders for centuries.

Source: Chan, Paul, G. Neil Thomas, and Brian Tomlinson. “Protective effects of trilinolein extrated from Panax notoginseng against cardiovascular disease.” Acta Pharmacologica Sinica 23.12 (2002): 1157-1162.

Ji Gu Xiang, Japanese Knot Weed, Eupatorii Herba, 47, OR Linderae Radix

Ji Gu Xiang, Japanese Knot Weed, Eupatorii Herba, 47, OR Linderae Radix

Ji Gu Xiang is translated to mean “Cracked Chicken Bone.” However, this ingredient is actually a root. It got its name because it resembles chicken bones. This potent ingredient is incredibly rare and difficult to source, even in its native country of China. Ji Gu Xiang is effective in treating bruises, sprains, and inflammation. It also helps to alleviate pain.

Gui Pi, Cinnamon Bark

Gui Pi, Cinnamon Bark

Gui Pi, also known as Cinnamon Bark, releases muscles, promotes circulation, and warms. This picture shows a fabulous, imperial-grade Gui Pi (Cinnamon Bark) that just came in from a Botanical Biohacking agent in China. This Gui Pi came from trees 20-30 years old and will provide enough medicine for thousands of Zheng Xie Gu Shui bottles. The colors of this bark are beautiful. It emits a dense and complicated smell unique to this ingredient of Evil Bone Water.

Gui Pi Pre Soak Process

After soaking for only a few hours, this photo is of our Imperial Grade Gui Pi. Certain herbs are pre-soaked before adding them to the Evil Bone Water decoction. Pre-soaking Gui Pi prevents its volatile oils from escaping in the cooking process. These potent oils offer several healing benefits and must be applied directly to the skin. Pre-soaking is an extra step we take to ensure we get every last drop of oil into Evil Bone Water. Next, we pre-soak the Gui Pi (cinnamon bark) in Everclear and the other herbs in water. This process helps to soften the cell walls before decoction and allows for total alcohol extraction. The extracted goodness will return to the pot when it’s cooled enough.

Gui Pi Soak Stages

Pre-soaking Gui Pi is not necessary, but we are dedicated to creating the best linament on the market. We include steps that take additional time and care but result in better medicine. Each batch of Evil Bone Water is handmade to ensure the highest quality product.

E Zhu, Zedoary Rhizome, Rhizoma Curcumae

E Zhu, Zedoary Rhizome, Rhizoma Curcumae

E Zhu promotes the circulation of blood and breaks accumulations. As quoted from a renowned Chinese medical journal:

“Curdione, one of the major sesquiterpene compounds from Rhizoma Curcumae, has been shown to exhibit multiple bioactive properties that are anti-platelet aggregation and antithrombotic activities of curdione.”

In addition, E Zhu is an essential oil used in treating cancer in China.

Xia, Quan, et al. “Inhibition of platelet aggregation by curdione from Curcuma wenyujin essential Oil.” Thrombosis research 130.3 (2012): 409-414.

Lu, Jin-Jian, et al. “Anti-cancer properties of terpenoids isolated from Rhizoma Curcumae–A review.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 143.2 (2012): 406-411.

Bai Zhi, Angelica dahurica

Bai Zhi, Angelica dahurica

This ingredient is darkly colored and very aromatic. It imparts a sweet smell to the formula reminiscent of maple syrup. The aroma is robust and will linger on your body.

In traditional Chinese medicine Bai Zhi, it is praised for its therapeutic effects in treating colds and headaches and alleviating pain. It also effectively reduces swelling, eliminates toxins, and expels pus. In addition, Bai Zhi has various bioactivities such as anti-inflammation, anti-tumor, anti-oxidation, analgesic activity, and antiviral and antimicrobial effects. This is just one of the many herbs that make Evil Bone Water so powerful.

“Research has also shown that both crude extracts and active components of A. dahurica possess a wide range of pharmacological activities, including anti-inflammation, anti-tumor, anti-oxidation, analgesic activity, antiviral and antimicrobial effects, effects on the cardiovascular system, neuroprotective function, hepatoprotective activity, effects on skin diseases.”

Zhao, Hui, et al. “The Angelica dahurica: A review of traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology.” Frontiers in Pharmacology (2022): 2367.

Magical Properties of Bai Zhi

  • Exorcism
  • Protection
  • Healing

Sprinkle the house’s four corners with Bai Zhi to ward off evil. Then, add it to a bath to remove hexes, curses, and any spells cast against you.

Qian Jin Ba, Philippine Flemingia Root

Qian Jin Ba, Philippine Flemingia Root

Qian Jin Ba strengthens tendons and bones. This herb is acrid and warm. It effectively removes cold and dampness from the body, commonly present in conditions related to arthritis, bone pain, fractures, and sciatica.

We get Qian Jin Ba wildcrafted in large bundles of roots. We only use imperial-grade herbs to ensure the maximum amount of herbal medicine is in every batch.

Hu Zhang (Japanese Knotweed Root)

Hu Zhang (Japanese Knotweed Root)

Reynoutria japonica houtt is a favorite herb with a deep, rich smell. It works by invigorating the blood and dispersing stasis.

Hu Zhang is effective in clearing heat in the body. It is used to discharge toxins, burns, pus, and carbuncles. This same property also helps with inflammation. Hu Zhang promotes the healing of burns by enhancing the immune system and cardiac functions. Leaves of R. Sachalinensis are used as a disinfectant and are protective against boils.

In China, Hu Zhang is currently used in combination with other herbs to treat inflammatory diseases, including hepatitis and suppurative dermatitis, favus, jaundice, skin burns, scald, cough, amenorrhea, and hyperlipidemia. Hu Zhang contains resveratrol, polysaccharides, flavonoids, quinones, and large amounts of condensed tannins.

We use substantial amounts of the highest quality Hu Zhang in Evil Bone Water.

Navrátilová, Zdeňka, and Maribel Ovando. “Biologically active compounds of Knotweed (Reynoutria spp.) Review article.” (2017).

Why Evil Bone Water is Superior To Other Zheng Gu Shui Formulas

Marrying and mixing herbs through decoction and alcohol extraction creates Evil Bone Water’s unmatched potency. We use the highest quality ingredients and the best production methods. Evil Bone Water is set apart from the competition in several ways:

  • Evil Bone Water is crafted using imperial-grade herbs that are 2-5 grades above the C-quality herbs used in most other products made by U.S. supplies
  • Evil Bone Water has no animal products.
  • It is non-GMO, gluten-free, cruelty-free, pesticide-free, and contaminant free.
  • The Camphor and menthol in Evil Bone Water are natural. Competitors use lesser-quality synthetic versions,
  • We only use 190 Everclear in our topical ointment. Other manufacturers use cheaper products like ethanol or isopropyl alcohol.

190 Everclear Vs. Ethanol

While ethanol is 800% cheaper than 190 Everclear, topically applied ethanol acts as a skin penetration enhancer and may facilitate the transdermal absorption of herbs. The topical application of 10% ethanol stimulates the proliferation of skin, which can be interpreted as a positive influence on the stimulation of wound healing. In addition, studies show that ethanol on the skin increases blood vessel dilation. The ethanol also breaks down lipid or skin oils which can enhance hydration because of increased cutaneous permeability to alcohol.

The decreased skin oil lowers the skin barrier function and makes the membrane more permeable. This action also explains how ethanol can help other herbs penetrate the skin, explaining why ethanol has such a strong effect as a skin penetration enhancer.

Imperial-Grade Herbs in Evil Bone Water

Imperial-Grade Herbs in Evil Bone Water

Every herb is microscopically tested for proper variety, contaminants, and strength. We make sure all ingredients are sustainably and ethically sourced. Everything that goes into a bottle of Evil Bone Water comes from the finest ingredients on the planet.

In addition, we pre-soak certain herbs for 12-72 hours before adding them to the Evil Bone Water decoction. Doing this prevents volatile oils from escaping during the cooking process. The extracted goodness will return to the pot when it’s cooled enough. Pre-soaking is an additional step we take to make sure our Evil Bone Water is produced with the highest quality standards. Zheng Xie Gu Shui is our passion. That is why each batch is handmade with the best possible ingredients.

Evil Bone Water Stages of Production

Finally, we use a complex double extraction process to ensure every last drop of medicine is pulled from these fantastic herbs. The “dregs” from a batch are never boiled twice. Instead, they go into fresh alcohol and sit for weeks or months, awaiting use in next-generation batches. They are technically good enough to use by the time they have soaked, but we take it one step further. The resulting alcohol extraction will then make current Evil Bone Water batches. This “double extraction” process is unnecessary, but it is one of the premium quality details we do to make the finest product possible.

When we craft our product, I always ask myself- What do I want on my skin? In my patient's body? My own family?


When it comes to natural pain relief, nothing beats the powerful healing benefits of Evil Bone Water. It effectively stops the pain associated with backaches, arthritis, strains, bruises, sprains, breaks, and other ailments. Since its development by a Chinese Master Herbalist over 500 years ago, Evil Bone Water has stood the test of time and is used widely among practitioners for treating pain.

Evil Bone Water from our clinic contains no animal products and is non-GMO, gluten-free, cruelty-free, pesticide-free, and containment free. Every herb is microscopically tested for proper variety, contaminants, and strength. We make sure they are all sustainable and ethically sourced. Everything that goes into the bottles comes from the finest ingredients on the planet.

Buy Evil Bone Water Today!

Evil Bone Water (Zheng Gu Shui) is a Chinese topical medicinal hand-crafted with only empirical grade herbal ingredients in an approved facility.

We make available natural products that have been observed to make a difference in the lives of our patients, friends and family. You’re in good hands shopping with us.

A more harmonious life through microbiomes

Microgard Plus from Botanical Biohacking

What most doctors are missing is that trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi make up your microbiomes. These tiny ecosystems influence your healthy immune system and hormone balance. Most people look at killing strategies when they should be looking at it more like cultivating a healthy garden. This is because self-cultivation begins with cultivating your microbiome gardens. This is also the key to optimizing your brain.

Traditional Chinese herbal medicines (like MicroGuard Plus) not only have direct chemical effects, they also have indirect actions to modulate the body through cultivating the microbiomes.

Acupuncture also plays a role in cultivating your microbiome. The Oxford Academic Journal of Inflammatory Bowel Disease states, acupuncture has demonstrated beneficial roles in the regulation of gut dysbiosis, intestinal barrier dysfunction, visceral hypersensitivity, gut motor function, depression/anxiety, and pain. This explains how acupuncture and herbs are so effective at making you feel better.

Chinese medicine doctors have actively worked to balance these microbiomes for thousands of years and have developed it into a highly sophisticated art and science. They discovered that the key to developing a more harmonious life starts with your microbiome and cultivating an internal garden.

To learn more about MicroGuard Plus, click on this video and download this informational sheet.

The Martial Arts Training Schedule: Long-Term and Short-Term Goals

The Martial Arts Training Schedule

When creating a training program for Taekwondo or any other sport, we start by addressing the client’s long-term goal. Then, we work our way into the details of more short-term goals.

In this way, short-term goals should work as a scaffold, helping to reach the client’s longer-term goal.

One way to do this is by starting with our yearly goals, and then reverse-engineering our, monthly, weekly, and daily goals. For clients who are athletes, the process is much the same; but instead of yearly goals, we look at goals for each of the three phases of a training cycle.

Training Cycle Goals

First, we’ll look through the largest lens: the yearly goal.

For athletes, the year is a cycle comprised of three phases: pre-season, competition, and post-season.

Each of these phases typically lasts between three and four months.

Pre-Season Phase

The first phase to look at is the pre-season phase. During this phase, we’re typically working on sports-specific movements and conditioning. That is, movements and conditioning that apply directly to the client’s sport.

To identify an athlete’s sport-specific movements, we look at these four categories:

1. The distance and velocity requirements of the sport.

  • Short distance
  • Medium distance
  • Long distance
  • Low speed
  • Moderate speed
  • High speed

2. The type of directional movement that the sport requires most.

  • Horizontal and/or vertical
  • Forwards and/or backward
  • Lateral and/or rotational

3. The type of resistance that is encountered during movement.

  • Heavy: ~300 lb
  • Medium: ~100 lb
  • Low: ~20 lb
  • None: ~0 lb

4. The length of rest periods between exertions.

  • No rest
  • Short rest: ~30 seconds
  • Medium rest: ~1-5 minutes
  • Long rest: ~5-10 minutes

Using Pre-Season Sport-Specific Movement in Practice

Type Taekwondo Basketball Cross Country
Distance and Velocity 26ft; High/Moderate 95ft; High/Moderate 5 miles; Moderate
Movement Lateral & Horizontal Vertical & Forward Horizontal & Forward
Resistance Low Low None
Rest Medium & Long Medium None

During the pre-season phase, we can use sport-specific movement in two ways:

  • Special preparatory exercises engage the same muscles and energy systems as the sport, but utilize different movement patterns than those used during competition.

    One example of this is barbell and dumbbell training for maximum explosive strength. General jumping drills can fall into this category as well, but are more specific and will transfer more directly to the sport.

    Special preparatory exercises for Taekwondo include the following:

    • Quarter squats;
    • High-intensity interval training with lateral jumps;
    • Rotational medicine ball throws; and
    • Single leg box jumps.
  • Special developmental exercises engage the same muscle and energy systems as the sport; unlike special preparatory exercises, they also utilize the same movement patterns seen in competition. The competitive movements are typically trained and overloaded in some way to promote adaptation.

    It’s essential that these exercises are overloading in some way. The activity must be specific to the sport, and it must overload the system enough to stimulate adaptation and growth.

    Often, people will choose exercises that are exactly the same as the sport-movement, and they’re not overloading the system in any way.

    With special developmental exercises, the key is pushing the athlete to produce more force, or to move at a higher velocity, than they usually would in the ring. Overloading one of those qualities is what creates growth. (Tip: resistance bands are a great way to increase resistance for kicking.)

    Example: A standard Taekwondo match is contested over three 2-minute rounds with a rest of 1 minute between rounds. To create overloading in practice, we can change these variables.

Overload Rounds Length Rest
Number of Rounds 4 2 Minutes 1 Minute
Length of Rounds 3 4 Minutes 1 Minute
Rest Period 3 2 Minutes 30 Seconds

Competitive Phase

The next phase is the competitive phase, during which your client competes in their sport.

During this phase, the focus is again on sports-specific training. But we should spend less time building strength and cardio, and more time executing plans. (Focusing too much on strength-building and cardio in this phase increases the likelihood of injury and underperforming during competition.)

We want to continue strength-training so that we don’t lose any progress from the pre-season phase. But want to make sure not to overwork our athletes.

Another difference from pre-season is that in pre-season, you may work on more on special preparatory exercises, while in the competitive phase, you may work more on special developmental exercises.

Post-Season Phase

Last, we have the post-season phase. This is the time for the body to recover from competition. The goal during this phase is focusing on general physical fitness.

Post-season is also an opportunity to have fun, learn new skills, hone new movements and develop different energy systems.

General physical fitness can be categorized into the following movements and energy systems:


  • Squat/hip hinge or hip extension;
  • Single leg lunge;
  • Upper body press;
  • Upper body pull;
  • Forward flexion/v-sit; and
  • Rotational or twisting exercises.

Energy Systems

  • ATP-Phosphocreatine;
  • Glycolytic System/lactic acid; and
  • Oxidative System/aerobic.
  • These exercises engage different energy systems and movement patterns than those that are involved during regular sports performance training.

    General fitness exercises in this phase can be thought of as rehab: they won’t transfer to the sport directly, but instead, work to build a solid foundation of health and movement.

    Focusing on general fitness in this way is especially useful for young athletes; sports-specific development can cause imbalances if training is done incorrectly.

    This is also a time to focus on new skills. During the competition and pre-season phases, it’s unproductive to throw in new techniques that can’t be adequately learned and executed. But the post-season phase is the perfect time to do so.

    Tips for Taekwondo

    Taekwondo is different from most sports in that there are three main skill sets: forms, sparring, and self-defense.

    These skillsets overlap, but they’re also unique, and each has its own specific needs.

    Keep in mind that training for Taekwondo is like training for a triathlon rather than for basketball.

    In general, it’s best to have each workout focus mainly on one discipline. For example, Monday and Wednesday focus on sparring; Tuesday and Thursday focus on forms; Friday focuses on self-defense.

    During the post-season phase, workouts can incorporate more self-defense training, and during the competition phase, you may want to drop self-defense altogether because it’s not crucial at this time.

    Taekwondo matches are three 2-minute rounds, generally with 45 seconds between them, depending on the event. But at Nationals, Pan Am Games, US Open, or World Championships, a fighter will often have more than 40 competitors in their division. To win gold in this case, they have to win five–or even six–matches. This requires enormous endurance. Essentially, you have to take what you would do to prepare for one match, and then multiply it by six or seven.

    Matches are taxing–mainly to the ATP-Phosphocreatine and glycolytic system (lactic acid). But the recovery period after an activity is purely aerobic.

    The aerobic system in comparison to other systems can create the highest number of ATPs from a single glucose molecule, but it requires a more extended period to do so.

    For longer events, aerobic exercise comes into play. This does a few things for an athlete in the ring:

    • The athlete is not worried about getting tired, so there’s no having to think about conserving energy. He’s able to attack at will and not be winded at all.
    • When he attacks, he can choose how long the attack lasts without worrying about tiring.
    • When he does make it to the semi-finals and finals, he’s still fresh and ready to go.

    We found that conditioning is perhaps more important than technique at a certain point. Everyone can kick pads and things like that. But not many can do it full-bore for 5 or 6 matches. If we expect to have 5 matches to get to the finals, that’s 15 rounds plus the chance we are tied and go to golden round (golden point/overtime). So we train for 20 rounds allowing for the overtime and then, to be sure we don’t run out of gas we train for 23-25 rounds.

    Monthly, Weekly, and Daily Goals

    After addressing the long-term goals, we can now delve deeper into short-term goals on a monthly, weekly and daily timeframe.

    It’s essential to have a monthly goal because body adaptation–whether it’s mental or physical–takes time and repetition. Switching up goals too frequently will decrease long-term retention.

    Weekly goals are a breakdown of monthly goals into achievable smaller goals. In general, these goals will move from basic to more advanced.

    Early on when learning a new skill, most of the adaptation is neurological, which means coordination is the most critical aspect.

    It’s vital to learn the perfect technique with low to medium intensity, going through the motions and acquiring the necessary skills slowly. When the athlete is comfortable with a new method, then you can increase the intensity, speed, and randomness.

    Lastly, you can begin to increase the conditioning difficulty to try and maintain perfect form at longer intervals and higher intensities. Start with higher reps, and move to a higher velocity.

    You must first learn the technique correctly and safely to be able to use the technique in a competitive and variable environment.

    In this way, you’re able to use high repetition to teach correct form, which reduces the risk of injury when the movement is performed in a variable environment at high velocity. The progression allows for the transfer of training to competition.

    When picking weekly conditioning exercises and drills to supplement and improve the sport, we ask ourselves, “How do these drills and exercises transfer to the athlete’s performance in the ring?” This concept is known as the transfer of training.

    Tips for Transfer of Training

    • Use sport-specific movements and energy systems. Match categories (see pre-season).
      • The distance or velocity requirements of the sport.
      • The type of movement that the sport utilizes the most.
      • The type of resistance that is encountered during movement.
      • The type of rest/ energy system.
    • Look for similarities between previously-learned skills and new skills.
    • Maximize the similarity between training activities and competitive conditions. Simulate various elements of competition (e.g. arousal level, game intensity, spectator noise) occasionally during training sessions, particularly during the competition phase.
    • Provide adequate experience with fundamental skills before advancing to more complex skills. Well-learned lead-up skills can positively influence an athlete’s performance in more demanding conditions at the next level of play (e.g., T-ball to baseball).
    • Develop more general capabilities, such as critical gross motor skills, which apply to a variety of sport tasks. For example, in basketball, the vertical jump is a key element of rebounding and blocking shots.
    • Point out to the athlete how training activities will improve sport performance. For example, call attention to the shifting of weight, the hip lead, and the arm movement in softball throw when teaching the javelin throw.

    When structuring a workout for a taekwondo athlete, there are two daily goals: practicing a skill to improve performance and conditioning to improve the performance.

    A general rule of thumb is that the skill comes before the conditioning. In other words, neurologically-taxing activities should come before physically-taxing activities. Neurologically-taxing activities involve paying attention, like when you learn and practice a new skill. You’re building new neural pathways and connections in the brain.

    High-intensity training and efforts approaching 90% of the athlete’s capability are also severely taxing on the nervous system. In other words, weight follows speed–not only in the chronological sense (you go to the weight room after doing sprints and jumps on the track) but also in terms of priority. The more speed, power, and intensive, high outputs that an athlete is capable of, the less they need to do in the weight room.

    Energy Management

    An athlete’s energy every day, week, month, or season is like a cup with a limited amount of space: every stressor and stimulus imposed on an athlete is like a drop in that cup. The more stressful the activity, or the bigger stimulus, the larger the drop.

    Part of our job as a trainer is deciding what should take up the most space in that cup–which stressors to impose at what times. Generally speaking, we want the most significant portion of that cup to be taken up by sport-specific practice.

    The amount of space sports practice takes up will vary depending on the time of the year, but the thing that’s always the most beneficial to athletes is practicing their sport. Sports practice is the only irreplaceable part of an athlete’s training, so that’s what should fill the cup the most and what we should reserve the most space for.

    After that, sprinting and jumping drills likely have a higher correlation to sporting success than most lifting movements. If a movement happens fast in the sport, faster movements are going to correlate better compared to slow ones.

    Teach, Learn, Compete

    There’s a lot to remember when you’re strategizing for a martial arts training schedule. But a good acronym to use is TLC: teach, learn, compete. At the beginning of a workout or training cycle, you teach by example. Then, you give the athletes learning opportunities with controlled focus drills. Finally, the athlete transfers their skills to compete in a more variable environment.

    Rethinking Muscle Cramping and How to Treat It

    Rethinking Muscle Cramping and How to Treat It with Valley Health Clinic in Albany, Oregon

    Contrary to popular belief, muscle cramping after exercise has little to do with dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. While hydration and electrolyte restoration are important following a bout of intense exercise, there’s much more to cramping than formerly understood.

    In this article, we will discuss the real reasons behind exercise-induced muscle cramping and address treatment methods for this condition.

    Myth of Electrolytes

    A study of 43 triathletes reported cramping (cramping group) and were compared with the 166 who did not report cramps (non-cramping group). There were no significant differences between groups in any pre-race–post-race serum electrolyte concentrations and body weight changes. The development of cramps was associated with faster predicted race times and faster actual race times, despite similarly matched preparation and performance histories in subjects from both groups. A regression analysis identified faster overall race time (and cycling time) and a history of cramping (in the last 10 races) as the only two independent risk factors for exercise associated muscle cramps (EAMC).

    The study suggests that electrolyte levels are not a factor in cramping. Rather, competing at a faster pace and high intensity then what is normal can cause (EAMC). So why is this? The most up-to-date scientific theories attribute exercise-induced cramping to a body state called “alpha motor neuron excitability”. It may sound complicated, but alpha motor neuron excitability is relatively easy to understand and identify.

    Read more:

    Alpha Motor Neurons Explained

    Alpha motor neurons (also referred to as alpha motoneurons) are an essential part of the body’s central and peripheral nervous systems. They’re present in the brainstem and spinal column, and they’re directly responsible for telling muscles when to contract.

    Any time you contract (flex) a muscle to make a movement (for example, when you take a step, grasp a pencil or touch a finger to your nose), you’re putting your alpha motor neurons to use. During a bout of intense exercise, your alpha motor neurons work overtime.

    Importantly, when it comes to understanding muscle cramps: the more active your alpha motor neurons are, the more prone your muscles are to contracting when you don’t necessarily want them to.

    What is Alpha Motor Neuron Excitability?

    Alpha motor neurons are an essential part of the body’s nervous system. However, they must strike a delicate balance with other neurons and body systems for your muscles to work correctly. One of these balancing agents is the Golgi tendon organ, which we’ll discuss in more depth further on.

    When these systems become out of balance, your alpha motor neurons aren’t properly kept in check, and they enter a state of excitability. And since alpha motor neurons cause our muscles to contract, the result of this excitability is involuntary and prolonged muscle contraction: i.e. muscle cramps.

    Causes of Alpha Motor Neuron Excitability

    There are several factors that can cause alpha motor neuron excitability, including the following:

    • Fatigue
    • Dehydration and/or malnutrition
    • Inadequate conditioning
    • Muscle damage

    Just one of these factors can lead to alpha motor neuron excitability and subsequent muscle cramping. However, the real problem begins when several of these factors coalesce, causing more severe excitability, and therefore, more intense pain.

    Understanding the Golgi Tendon Organ

    As briefly mentioned above, the Golgi tendon organ (GTO or tendon spindle) is one of the most important balancing agents to the body’s alpha motor neurons. Golgi tendon organs are proprioceptive sensory receptor organs, located in the tendons, adjacent to the myotendinous junction (MTJ).

    So, how do the Golgi tendon organs located in the tendons keep alpha motor neurons in balance, and how can this aid in treating muscle cramps?

    The Golgi tendon organ performs almost the opposite role of alpha motor neurons. Whereas alpha motor neurons tell your muscles to contract, the GTO’s role is to make sure your muscles don’t contract too forcefully.

    When the body is fatigued, not only does alpha motor neuron activity increase, but Golgi tendon organ activity decreases, furthering the potential for unwanted muscle contractions.

    This is important in understanding muscle cramps and how to treat them because by stimulating the Golgi tendon organ, we can essentially “switch off” unwanted muscle contraction.

    The Answer is TRP Channels

    If you’re familiar with the electrolyte depletion theory, you may be familiar with the theory that pickle juice relieves muscle cramps. It was originally thought that pickle juice does this by balancing electrolytes in the body. We now know this is not true. A study by Miller found that it takes pickle juice 30mins to leave the stomach and that the cramp revealing effects happens much faster. Instead, the researchers theorized that pickle juice worked to inhibit the firing of alpha motor neurons by triggering a reflex-response in the mouth, throat and stomach called transient receptor potential (TRP) channels.

    TRP Channels and Muscle Cramps

    TRP channels are pathways through which the body transports positively charged ions (i.e. magnesium, sodium, and calcium). These pathways, or channels, can be stimulated by small molecules like capsaicin and menthol, and by spices like red pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and mustard.

    Numerous physical scenarios can also be explained by the alpha motor theory, where they cannot be explained by the traditional serum electrolyte depletion theory alone. For example, marathon-runners often suffer cramps when fully hydrated and electrolyte-balanced

    TRP channels help the body rapidly and accurately interpret the surrounding environment and adapt. And when it comes to muscle cramping, strong simulation of the TRP channels can calm alpha motor neurons and diminish cramping (

    Read More:

    Cramps and the Taste of Herbal Medicine

    Since ancient times, Chinese herbalists have classified medicinal materials according to their tastes. The taste was understood to have a relationship to the effect of the herb when ingested. This relationship was seen as having great importance in guiding the combining of herbs within formulas. In most traditional Chinese herb books, taste was the first property of an herb to be mentioned, helping to orient the reader to the information that followed. There are five tastes—sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and acrid (sometimes called pungent or spicy)—consistent with the five element concept.

    It is reasonable to raise the question whether or not the tastes really have a strong correlation with herbal effects. Now that we know about Transient receptor potential channels and their location in the mouth and esophagus, the answer to this is yes.

    If we take pickle juice as an example of a way to control cramps and overexertion. It’s flavor is sour. Lemonade is another example of how sour can control the outward energy of excessive sweating and fatigue. There is norther better then a cool glass of lemonade on a hot day.

    There are two major connotations of the sour taste in Chinese medical theory:

    • In five element systematic correspondence, the sour taste is associated with the liver. It has a moistening and softening effect, usually reducing contraction of the ligaments and tendons. Persons who are overly flexible may find that the sour tasting herbs worsen that condition. Peony, cornus, achyranthes, are among the main sour herbs used to affect the liver function and said to relax the tendons.
    • According to the taste/action dogma, the sour taste has an astringent and fluid recollecting function (that is, helping to reabsorb fluids as they begin to escape). Chinese medicine considers the sour and astringent qualities as restraining the leakage of any fluid, including perspiration, and blood. Tannins, a class of complex molecules with notable astringent effect, are present in some of the herbs. Schizandra, terminallia, cornus, and sanguisorba are commonly used as astringents.

    Here is a Formula that can help with muscle spasm and cramps:

    • Bai Shao (Radix Paeoniae Alba) and Gan Cao (Radix Glycyrrhizae) are commonly combined to relieve muscle spasms and cramps. Clinically, they may be used for musculoskeletal spasms and leg cramps associated with external or sports injuries.
    • (Radix Paeoniae Alba) and Gan Cao (Radix Glycyrrhizae) have strong antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory effects as confirmed by modern research. Furthermore, Bai Shao (Radix Paeoniae Alba) and Gan Cao (Radix Glycyrrhizae) are effective in treating both skeletal and smooth muscles.

    Summing Up Exercise-Induced Muscle Cramps

    It’s easy to see how muscular fatigue—like that following a bout of intense exercise — can wear down the body’s natural systems and balances, leading to muscle cramps. When the body is fatigued, alpha motor activity increases and Golgi tendon organ activity decreases, leading to painful and involuntary muscle contraction. But by understanding the root cause of exercise-induced muscle cramps, and that TRP and taste has a strong we can better treat the issue in sports acupuncture and herbal medicine.

    Proprioception in Sports Acupuncture

    Proprioception in Sports Acupuncture

    Strictly using our orthopedic acupuncture methods, we can quickly get a suffering athlete out of pain.

    However, after that pain—what we do next—can make all the difference. After an athlete of ours has gone through treatment, they are at a vulnerable phase, and if not treated correctly can easily re-injure themselves.

    At this point in treatment, their are not working optimally at 100 percent just yet, with their muscles “turned off”. Critically, these muscles need to go through yet another stage to get them back on again to function as effectively as possible.

    Deeper Look at the Turn-Off Point

    Before we find that on-switch, let’s look into what happens in the off-stage:

    • Competitive Plasticity connects directly to the state the muscles are in. If the athlete is not able to perform a particular skill or use this set of neuronal connections at this point, their brains will re-purpose them to use for something

    If your athlete has hurt him or herself, the brain will stop using that muscle and decrease range of motion to allow it to heal, which can explain why during an athlete’s ankle sprain, the joint’s movement is very limited.

    • Damage to the Proprioceptive System may also cause the ‘turn off’ of the muscle. Proprioception is the term used to describe an athlete’s awareness of their body and its movement.

    This ability in an athlete (or anyone else for that matter) can be hindered or impaired when that particular ligament or tendon in the joint is injured. Since the proprioceptors are generally located in this area, this can cause an unstable sensation in the joint.

    If your athlete is suffering from an ankle sprain, the damage to the ligament’s neurotendinous spindle can cause even more problems ahh the origin and insertion point of the skeletal muscle fibers and tendons of the skeletal muscle—which will lead to the giving out of the joint.

    Conclusive Data and Its Connection

    This damage is not just a theory.

    Through multiple studies, it was concluded that an alteration of proprioception occurs in patients or athletes who have ankle injuries or unstable ankles. The have found that impairment in the proprioception can lead up the kinetic change from ankles to knees, hips, and lower backs.

    This weakness and turn-off point can be treated through orthopedic techniques. However, just as will be explained in this article, the distal methods or press tacks are often found to be much more effective.

    What Are Press Needles?

    These intra-dermal needles can help make that relationship work between acupuncture treatment and exercise all at once. While the patient or athlete may be having trouble with a particular movement or exercise, press needles can be implemented to help with the mild pain or lack of proprioceptive awareness.

    Although press tacks increase skin sensitivity, which can supplement feedback and improve it’s important to note, however, that it has been proven to successfully work only in people that have a dysfunction.

    When Are They Effective?

    With an athlete’s busy schedule, it’s hard to find the time to lay on the table for traditional style treatment. However, with the combination of press tacks, tape, and other aids, you can get them game-ready without hindering performance whatsoever.

    How Do They Work?

    By implementing the insertion of the press needles during exercise at specific points, the proprioceptive system of the athlete will have added input. This can help remove all the type of obstructions that may be occurring at different channels which leads to discomfort.

    While using the press needles, you need to also be aware of the patient’s level of discomfort or pain. If they are experiencing too much, it’s normally a sign that the exercise is too difficult or painful for the injury.

    The needles are also responsible for improving the movement of qi and blood in the jing luo. It has a direct impact on movement patterns.

    A Deeper Look

    In understanding the functional role of proprioception, it is crucial to be able to distinguish this proprioception from the athlete’s tactile senses.

    The tactile senses are information drawn from the skin’s mechanoreceptors. The information being sent off can include pain, temperature, and movement, helping the become much more aware of their surroundings.

    The need to distinguish between this and proprioception is important—and also very difficult to do. The concepts are very similar to one another because both of them contribute to the movement of a person, his or her accuracy in that movements, consistency, and force adjustment in their power.

    They are even more connected because tactile feedback actually is used in proprioceptive feedback—through augmentation of estimating movement distances—which makes them even more intertwined.

    Regardless of their similarities, however, it is important to note that there is a distinct difference in two organs: proprioceptors and mechanoreceptors.

    Making The Comparison

    The two organs, in these functions, seem to work as allies.

    The propriocetors are the primary source of information. They are found in the tendon ligaments, joint capsules, and the muscles.

    The mechanoreceptors secondary source of this necessary data for your body can be found through the deep skin fascia layers and the skin’s tactile sensation.

    While making the comparison, you cannot avoid the impacting role the location of the muscle and joint plays on the body. The relationship between proprioceptive perceptions also tends to differ depending on the area of the body.

    For example, highly ligamentous and sensitive skin of the hand will use a different proportion and magnitude of proprioceptive input than an area like the hip will.

    The areas of the ligament, joint capsules, and skin also receive the most input while they are stretched to the end of their individual range of motion, where tension is rather high.

    The muscles spindles, on the other hand, are measured equally across the entire range of motion.

    Implementation in Our Practice

    If you want to improve the proprioceptive system, you have two ways

    • Enhance sensitivity of the proprioceptors
    • Enhance neurophysiological efficiency of signal conversion and transmission.

    In other words, we can either increase the signal or find a way to make the path more effective.

    Our ultimate goal being to overcome our central nervous system limited attention capacity. To move away from motor and movement skills and into cognitive demands like anticipating movements. Through treatment, your patient or athlete will also spend much less energy on the actual motion in their body and can use it to evaluate the playing field.

    This can help an athlete anticipate injury (before it happens) because they are then much more observant and aware of their surroundings during play and less on what they are physically doing.

    Boosting the signal, increase the muscle stiffness which increases ligament and tendon output or skin sensitivity with press tacks and tape. To help improve the pathway, we simply need to use the neural pathways with practice.

    A closer look:

    • The Signal

      Patients or athletes who generally have good proprioception do not tend to benefit from patellar taping. However, when taking a closer look at the healthy subjects with poor proprioceptive ability, patellar taping actually provided proprioceptive enhancement as measured through active and passive ankle reproduction.

      Although further studies are needed to investigate the effect of patellar taping on the proprioceptive status of patients with patellofemoral pain syndrome, the data thus far is deemed promising.

      Contrary to popular belief, a balance training strategy does not improve proprioception. It instead focuses on the Central Nervous System’s ability to control neuromuscular and musculoskeletal factors. It improve the muscle and skill of balancing.

      Done correctly, balance training is deemed crucial in patients who need to control slow to moderately fast, conscious and reactive movements in a closed loop. A single leg stance can be improved greatly through this type of training.

      Unfortunately, balance training will not help with postural reflex against an unexpected disturbance since it simply isn’t fast enough.

      For example, during an impact movement like running, an athlete’s ground reaction force will happen within less than the first 50 milliseconds. Although this seems extremely fast, it is a large enough span of time for the ankle to invert at a dangerous angle and cause injury.

      The balance or proprioceptive system reacts at a slow rate of 100 milliseconds in response to external imbalances. There is no way that a healthy system can respond in time to prevent this sort of injury. This is why for performance and injury prevention we need athletes increase focus on enviromental factors.

    • The Pathway

      If you are working a healthy individual, a much better strategy is simply to focus on the presentation of that injurious joint position instead of the aftermath reaction from the proprioceptive system.

      This anticipatory present of correct joint alignment and protective muscle stiffness is the correct strategy in this situation.

      A deeper look in the strategy would focus instead on teaching proper body mechanics and movement patterns to the athlete while in motion. This little details—like proper body alignment—will help in transferring the athlete’s center of gravity and weight down to the hip, knee, and ankle. This is important for safety during direction change while running.

      In addition to balance training, plyometrics can also be used, which helps train the neuromuscular system to hold proper muscle tension—in the stretch-shortening cycle—and with body mechanics.

    Avoiding Athlete Joint Injuries

    To help an athlete avoid getting injured, we, as professionals, need to establish adequate motor behavior in our patient.

    We can do this through two theories:

    • The Motor Program-based Theory: This is a Top Down theory. In this theory, the CNS will store motor programs and be trained to retrieve them when necessary. With this method training is often through repetition.
    • The Dynamic Pattern Theory: this is a Bottom up theory. In this theory, movement coordination is instantly controlled based on the information that is relayed in the environment. Here we can emphasize the interaction between the patient and his or her CNS reaction to the environment. With this training method use balance beams, resistance bands or obstacles .This sort of sensory information force a learning response.

    For an effective training program, you should really have both theories integrated within. It should involve repetition of skills, improving memory-based motor functions, and changing of the sensory environment, which can help stimulate dynamic patterning.

    Treating An Athlete’s Injury

    For an effective treatment program post-injury, balance training not only improves balance after the injury occurs but can also reduce the rate of repetitive injury from happening.

    If your athlete or patient cannot find balance or incorporate a stable structure into their movement while not moving—during movement will be that much harder.

    A Closer Look At Balance

    Balance is achieved and maintained by a complex set of Peripheral Receptors.

    These include sensory input from a few things, including:

    • Vision (sight)
    • Somatosensory (touch)
    • Vestibular System (motion)

    This means that a balance program can affect a few very important concepts in an athlete’s performance.

    When taking an even closer look at balance, you will find that an athlete’s ankles, toes, wrists, and fingers are the most active and dominate muscles commonly used. Within these joints, there are multiple articulating structures that allow for small adjustments throughout movement.

    An athlete’s core is also very active during balance exercises but is only focusing on stability during more gross movements.

    A Closer Look At Balance Programs

    While going through the balance program, the exercise can progress as the athlete or patient improves through:

    • Eyes open, which allows for the three systems to function.
    • Eyes closed, which allows for the two systems—touch and motion—to function.
    • Eyes closed with head movement, which allows for one system—touch—to function.

    For beginners, exercises should be performed successfully first with their eyes open, then again with their eyes closed. If the exercise cannot be done with their eyes open, it is advised to not progress on to the next step.

    Head motion should only be used for advanced athletes.

    For a quality exercise program, progression should start from the core, then head to the knees and elbows—activating the shoulder and hips—then the hands and feet—which should then activate the forearm and calves.

    Training Healthy Athletes

    Working with a healthy athlete can lead to a whole new challenge.

    Although balance training can fix broken proprioception or help improve unstable back and ankles in athletes, it does not improve the proprioceptive system in healthy patients.

    This means that a healthy athlete will get very little out of traditional balance training when simply looking into injury prevention.

    Instead, look into creating an ideal learning environment for the CNS.

    This means that an exercise program should distinctively train different motor skills with adequately changing task goals and visual environment.

    This training should help a healthy athlete’s CNS overcome its limited attentional capacity by adequately imposing multiple task demands.

    A Closer Look

    Researchers suggest that skill-focused attention is important during the initial stage of motor learning, but then becomes counterproductive for the experienced individual.

    Researches have also noted that multiple task training—for example, motor and cognitive demands—were more effective for performance developments of experienced athletes.

    After athletes have perfected a movement or skill, the limiting factor to advancement is how quickly they can interpret their environment. Can they read their opponent while playing? Can they look down the field for an opening or weakness while still moving?

    This is focused on the concept of cognitive demands.

    Post-Exercise Recovery: Research & Perspectives

    Post-Exercise Recovery: Research & Perspectives

    While much of sports acupuncture today focuses on the treatment of injury (pain relief and restoration of strength), there is a much larger field that acupuncturists are uniquely qualified to treat, yet often skip over: post-exercise recovery.

    Recovery is a vital component of an overall exercise or training program. It’s essential for high-level performance and continued athletic improvement. With the appropriate recovery treatments–including acupuncture–athletes can achieve higher training volumes and intensities while avoiding many of the detrimental side-effects of overtraining.


    This essay aims to present and analyze the research and perspectives on the complex topic of post-exercise recovery and the role of sports acupuncture therein.

    Primarily, it will look at the parasympathetic system, how it affects recovery, and how it is stimulated by acupuncture practices.

    It will also address the physiology of the time period immediately after exercise as an important biological phenomenon that acupuncturists can use to the advantage of their clients.

    Finally, this essay aims to show that sports acupuncture professionals can and should play a larger role in helping athletes recover after exercise.

    What is Recovery?

    Defining exercise recovery is a challenging task: there are many varied definitions of “recovery”. In the sports acupuncture world, the two most common definitions or views of recovery are as follows:

    • As a distinct period of time. Recovery can refer to a specific time frame. This period of time can range from minutes, as in the case of the heart rate returning to near-resting levels, to weeks, as in the return of strength after muscle-damaging exercise.

      These time frames also vary from person to person. For example, a trained athlete will display a different recovery timeline from that of a healthy individual. Both of these individuals will display vastly different recovery timelines than that of a person who is chronically ill.

    • As a physiological state or process. “Recovery” can also refer to a certain set of physiological processes or states which are distinct from resting physiological states and from the physiological state of exercise.

      This view of exercise recovery is usually localized: it assesses whether the muscles are ready to perform on the day of an event, or if they are weakened or injured.

    Within these two definitions of recovery, treatment strategies tend to focus on symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage and mainly work to blunt the inflammatory responses associated with muscle injury.

    Treatments that are based on these perspectives of recovery typically aim to hasten regenerative processes of the muscles with limited consideration for other mechanisms (Minett and Duffield, 2014). This may be through lifestyle (active recovery, sleep), physiological treatment (post-exercise cooling, massage, compression), or nutritional and pharmacological interventions (supplements, anti-inflammatory medications).

    These perspectives of recovery are too narrow, and they exclude factors such as illness, sleep, and psychology. These each have a significant impact on recovery and must be managed, in conjunction with the methods described above, in order to allow better performance and reduce the risk of injury.

    Evidence for Expanding the Definition of Recovery

    Various studies have found that single session of intense exercise and prolonged heavy training negatively influences the immune system function (Pedersen, 1998). This was done primarily by measuring SIgA levels, with SIgA being the predominant immunoglobulin found in the saliva other mucosal fluids. It neutralizes toxins and viruses and inhibits the attachment and replication of pathogens (Gleeson et al., 1999).

    These studies have demonstrated that (Mackinnon et al., 1993):

    • Frequent upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) in elite athletes result in suppression of salivary secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA) levels.
    • The exercise-induced decrease of salivary SIgA was inhibited in the acupuncture treatment group during a competition period.
    • The data suggests that acupuncture treatment enhances SIgA secretion in the saliva during the period of continuous physical exercise.
    • Therefore, it is possible that the increased risk of URTI in athletes during the competition period is due to a decrease in SIgA levels.
    • Acupuncture treatments could reduce the likelihood of infection in athletes and maintain their physical wellbeing by improving levels of SIgA and immunogenic actions.

    Sympathetic vs. Parasympathetic Involvement in Exercise Recovery

    The human body is intelligently balanced with a complex, built-in network for adapting to stress. This network is known as the autonomic nervous system, and it is comprised of two unique subsystems: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).

    The parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems both deal with metabolism, which is a biochemical process within the body that allows healing, growth and adaptation. Metabolism is the pattern of building up and breaking down resources within the body, and can be divided into catabolic and anabolic processes.

    The SNS is catabolic, meaning it breaks down resources, usually creating energy that is easily accessible. It mobilizes the these vital resources to help the body defend itself when it’s in danger. The sympathetic nervous system is what sends you into “fight or flight” mode in threatening situations. This system is upregulated during workouts, but ideally, the body only uses the SNS to its full capacity in life-threatening emergencies.

    The PNS is anabolic, meaning it builds up resources within the body, usually requiring energy to perform. The parasympathetic nervous system allows the body the resources it needs to adapt and recover. It helps the body to rest, digest, and recover after workouts and strenuous activity. A well-balanced nervous system spends most of its time on parasympathetic activities. An active PNS helps muscle soreness and swelling subside more quickly.

    Athletes are vulnerable to becoming SNS-dominant because they experience increased physical stress on a routine basis. By spending more time on sympathetic activities–and, therefore, less time on parasympathetic activities–an athlete’s nervous system will have a harder time helping the body recover.

    In addition to the physical stress athletes experience regularly, emotional/mental stress can also play a role in an athlete becoming SNS-dominant. The following stressors can put an additional burden on an athlete’s nervous system:

    • Stress at home or at work;
    • An upcoming event or season that requires increased training intensity and/or frequency;
    • Nervousness or anxiety about an upcoming event or season;
    • Acute or chronic psychological disturbances including depression or anxiety;
    • Physical illness, either transient or chronic; and/or
    • Restricted caloric intake due to an upcoming weigh-in or their sport having another weight component (i.e. wrestling or ballet).

    Most athletes will fall into at least one of the above categories. In addition to the regular physical stress their bodies undergo, stressors like these can tip the balance towards the sympathetic nervous system and strain the body’s natural process of maintaining homeostasis.

    This is especially true if pertinent treatment methods are not used to minimize sympathetic dominance and boost parasympathetic activity.

    Evidence of Sympathetic Dominance by Heart Rate Variability

    Heart rate variability (HRV) is a measure that indicates how much variation there is in your heartbeat intervals. The more consistent your heartbeat intervals within a given time frame (i.e. 60 seconds), the lower your HRV. The more varied the lengths of the intervals between your heartbeats, the higher your HRV.

    Heart rate variability has been found to be a valid indicator of decreased parasympathetic response and/or increased sympathetic activity.

    Researchers have found that parasympathetic activity or increased sympathetic activity will result in reduced HRV (Billman, 2013). Though previously thought to reflect only SNS activity, it is now widely accepted that changes in heart rate variability express variations in both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems (Haker et al., 2002)

    In a study by James, Munson, Maldonado-Martin & Croix (2012), subjects participated in an intense exercise session (defined as running 800 meters six times at 95% VO2 max with a three-minute recovery period between each run). The subjects experienced an increased sympathetic influence on the heart and heart rate variability and a decreased parasympathetic response (James et al, 2012).

    While the subjects in this example returned to baseline numbers after 24 hours, the study demonstrates that repeated, intense exercise stressed the subjects’ ability to engage parasympathetic responses and maintain homeostasis.

    Acupuncture & the Parasympathetic System

    When an athletes is under stress, such as during intense physical training, his or her autonomic nervous system can deviate, leading to the athlete’s becoming sympathetic-dominant. In this state, the athlete’s parasympathetic nervous system is impaired, causing the athlete to experience more difficult recovery. A full restoration of the natural balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic is the ideal solution.

    In western medicine, there aren’t many safe maneuvers to enhance parasympathetic performance while suppressing sympathetic functions. Acupuncture, however, is one of the most effective tools for doing just this.

    Various experiments have shown that acupuncture treatment does in fact modulate the autonomic nervous system, in addition to alleviating muscle tension, improving local blood flow, and increasing pain threshold (Barlas et al., 2000).

    One example is a study of hypertensive rats, wherein direct stimulation of the sciatic nerve produced decreased sensitivity to pain and a profound decrease in arterial pressure and activity in the splanchnic sympathetic nerve. The change lasted for several hours following treatment (Yao et al. 1982).

    Another study showed that magnitopuncture–a combination of acupuncture point pressing and magnetic treatment at Dazhui (DU14) and Neiguan (PC6) points–resulted in reduced sympathetic nerve activity and increased parasympathetic nerve activity at the end of a three-hour simulated driving task (Li et al.2003).

    It was also reported that needle insertions in the vagal innervated area of the ear could reduce narcotic and alcohol withdrawal symptoms and the underlying physiological mechanisms–a result of increased parasympathetic nerve activity (Mendelson et al., 1978)

    More data pointing to the fact that acupuncture can upregulate the parasympathetic nervous system found that acupuncture can induce release of endogenous (natural) opioids (Basbaum et al., 1984; Holaday et al.,1983; Terman et al.,1986; Watkins et al.,1986).

    Downregulation of the sympathetic nervous system has also been implicated by research. For example, it was found that acupuncture can trigger a somato-autonomic reflex (Budgell et al.1996), which can in turn induce vasodilation–a parasympathetic response (Kaada et al.,1982). This can result in increased relaxation and calmness and reduced distress (Knardahl et al., 1998).

    Acupuncture has been shown capable of significantly reducing heart rate, oxygen consumption (Lin et al.2009). This is thought to be a result of a reciprocal process: an increase in parasympathetic activity and a decrease in sympathetic activity (Nishijo et al. 1997).

    There is still much to be learned about the relationship between acupuncture and the autonomic nervous system. However, there is significant enough evidence to show that acupuncture is a noteworthy treatment or adjunct treatment for the reversal of sympathetic dominance.

    A Window of Opportunity

    While stressors like physical exertion can create an an unhealthy state of sympathetic dominance, exercise recovery (handled correctly) grants a unique window of opportunity for the body to maximize the positive outcomes of its altered state.

    Many of the processes that are responsible for the beneficial effects of exercise remain highly active during exercise recovery period. This window of time can be put to good use, with the correct acupuncture interventions, to improve the body’s adaptation to exercise training.

    Research shows that a period of intense exercise increases insulin sensitivity, decreases blood lipid levels and reduces blood pressure after exercise, making the recovery period after exercise an ideal time for therapeutic acupuncture intervention (Halliwill et al., 2013).

    These responses occur anywhere from two to three hours immediately following exercise (e.g., post-exercise hypotension), and they may last up to 48 hours or more (e.g., altered blood lipids).

    Athletes have long taken advantage of this recovery period to improve training and athletic performance by strategically consuming macronutrients during recovery. This is because the metabolic changes associated with both endurance and resistance exercise and recovery may be enhanced with appropriate nutrient timing strategies.

    Optimizing the intake of macronutrients using exercise recovery is a large area of research related to human performance that may translate to clinical populations and older adults (Esmarck et al., 2001). In the context of general populations, recovery from exercise may be used to mitigate the negative effects of some chronic diseases (Luttrell et al., 2015).

    Evidence of Acupuncture and the Window of Opportunity

    In the general population, this window of opportunity could be used to apply acupuncture interventions during a state of enhanced insulin sensitivity and blunted blood lipid levels. Ideally, these interventions could slow, or even reverse, the progression of chronic diseases, reducing the need for pharmacological interventions and improving quality of life.

    Research presented in Effects of acupuncture on heart rate variability in normal subjects under fatigue and non-fatigue state by Zengyong Li, Chengtao Wang, Arthur F. T., Mak Daniel and H. K. Chow sheds more light on how acupuncture can work in tandem with this window of opportunity.

    The goal of this study was to analyze the effects of acupuncture applied at Hegu (LI 4) points and Neiguan (PC6) points on heart rate variability in normal subjects under fatigue and non-fatigue states. Stimulations of the LI 4 points and PC 6 points created inverse effects to the stress and fatigue response.

    In a fatigue state, stimulation of the LI 4 points and PC 6 points indicated a shift of sympathetic balance. In a non-fatigue state, the acupuncture adopted in this study apparently induced a significant increase in activity of both the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nerve system during the post-stimulation period in normal subjects, which was similar to the study by Haker et al. (2000), suggesting no modification in sympathetic balance in non-fatigue state.

    This study concluded that acupuncture on the Neiguan (PC 6) and Hegu (LI 4) points seemed to enhance vagal (parasympathetic) activity and to suppress sympathetic activity. These effects on the autonomic nervous system were opposite to the stress and fatigue response, indicating that the acupuncture treatment was capable of reducing the effects of fatigue in a fatigue state.

    These different effects of acupuncture on heart rate variability suggests that the modulating effect of acupuncture on HRV not only depends on the acupuncture points used, but that it was also connected to the functional state of the body (such as fatigue or non-fatigue) in normal subjects.

    Since the temporary change in autonomic nervous system activity is associated with the functional state of human body, such as mental stress or fatigue (Pagani et al. 1989, 1994), it is reasonable to hypothesize that the effects of acupuncture on autonomic nervous system activity are associated with the functional state of the human body.


    The research presented and analyzed in this essay shows that sports acupuncture can and should play a larger role in the field of recovery. While the treatment of injury is still a cornerstone of acupuncture for athletes, more attention must be paid to the recovery period and the window of opportunity. By focusing more on recovery, acupuncturists can help their clients to not only recover faster and more effectively, but also to improve their sports performance by utilizing key recovery states.

    To help athletes properly recover and avoid overtraining it is important to:

    • Monitor the intensity of athletes’ prescribed workouts; and
    • Ensure that rest or active recovery days are part of the training program.
    • Utilize acupuncture to help athletes switch out of workout induced sympathetic dominance and into parasympathetic state.


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    Terman GW, Liebeskind JC. Relation of stress-induced analgesia to stimulation-produced analgesia. Ann NY Acad Sci 1986;467:300–308.

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    Yao T, Andersson S, Thore P (1982) Long-lasting cardiovascular depression induced by acupuncture-like stimulation of the sciatic nerve in unanaesthetized spontaneously hypertensive rats. Brain Res 240:77–85

    Acupuncture & Sports Medicine with an Athletic Team

    Acupuncture & Sports Medicine with an Athletic Team

    An acupuncturist on a sports team isn‘t the most publicized or celebrated, the role they play behind the scenes on the medical staff and the impact they make on each individual athlete is a pretty huge one.

    I want to share more with you about being an acupuncturist on a team and how you can become one too.

    A Vital Member of the Coaching Staff

    If you‘ve followed sports teams over the past few years, you‘ve seen the all-star, professional line-up of on-staff training personnel. In some cases, you may even have seen more staff members on the sidelines than actual players on the roster.

    You‘ve got your head coach, your assistant coach, your athletic trainer, and your graduate assistants.

    You have your fitness instructor and your weight trainer specialist. You have your lead scout and your sports manager, your exercise physiologist, team doctor, and nutritionist.

    These teams have all these people on staff and yet—no acupuncturist.

    Well, let‘s hope they make room because with you—it‘s all about to change.

    Whether your local winning high school football team practices down the street from your house or you‘re willing to drive several miles in search for your new job, your ability to practice sports acupuncture can be the key to pinning your place (excuse our pun) in a new position on a sports team.

    From high school to professional sports and everywhere in between , being a team acupuncturist can help you bring something new (and extremely useful) to the—medical—table. Your practice can help them practice, with a skillset that can be an incredible asset to your favorite local team.

    Highlighting what you bring to the team can help you land your new position but getting your foot in the door, well, that‘s where we come in.

    How to Introduce Acupuncture into Multi-Disciplinary Sports

    The integration of acupuncture into sports medicine can be the difference the team needs as far as promoting and caring for an individual with client-centered performance.

    Especially in team-centered sports, the needs of an individual are sometimes lost in the overall goals of the group. This is unfortunate because although team statistics make a difference in the season, an individual‘s performance can make a difference in the game.

    However, with a service like acupuncture, a client-centered model of practice can be implemented and emphasized as a focus on the individual‘s performance and not just the team performance as a whole.

    As sports research increases, the role of an individual is becoming more and more centralized. With that increase in individual need, from amateur to professional sports, the need for an acupuncturist (and not just someone that can practice it), is also becoming more and more prevalent.

    By taking a quick weekend course on acupuncture, any old athletic trainer can take your place crowd-surfing throne at the end of the game. Don‘t let them—your time has come.

    Local teams everywhere are in need of your practiced hands and your invaluable services to the everyday or professional athlete.

    In this article, we‘re not only going to show you how to introduce yourself as a vital member of the coaching staff, insert yourself into this open playing field, and help you land the position of your dream job, we‘ve also got the sources to back up our claims.

    From first-hand accounts of coaches telling you how to best approach the position, athletic trainers and assistants sharing how to contact their departments, and actual acupuncturists who have been in your shoes, we have everything you may need to know before you prepare for the interview that can make your dream job come true.

    You‘ll be reading testimonials from an acupuncturist on his own stories and recollections of how he has successfully implemented his skillset into prominent universities and sports teams.

    Our collection of professionals in the field today can help you witness and follow the stories of personal experiences working with individual athletes and college teams, as well as interviews with health professionals, athletic therapists, coaches, and assistant directors.

    History of Sports Teams Medicine

    Before we dive into how you‘re going to make a statement of the acupuncture movement in today‘s sports world, let‘s take a look at what we‘re up against in the already-present medical staff of the average sports team.

    Especially in a professional or high-level sports atmosphere, the most common practitioners of acupuncture have been left to the devices of physicians and physiotherapists. These primary healthcare providers and rehabilitation-centered practitioners have been known to whip out the acupuncture needles a time or two.

    And although the profession of athletic therapy has seen an increase in popularity, whether through the choice of study or through team hiring, not all athletic therapists are studied or fully-certified in acupuncture.

    As a former professional athlete who was lying on the medical table too many times to count, I would have definitely felt more confident in the hands of a certified acupuncturist—especially if those same hands were also holding quite a few very long, very sharp needles.

    With the primary responsibility of on-site care at all times during competition and in training, the athletic trainer (normally partnered with a graduate assistant) has a lot on their hands. Not only are they responsible for so many different medical aspects, but they are also normally the only ones on-site that have the credentials to help out in a medical situation.

    Especially in high school sports or with low-budget or lower-ranked university sports teams, you will normally only see one person on-staff during travel practices or those god-awful, 6 a.m. workouts that no assertive physical therapist professional would want to wake up for (especially since most of the time they just tape ankles and then sit for the remainder of the training).

    However, in most cases, these certified individuals present—although very practiced in their field—are not completely adept or proficient in acupuncture as you are.

    And although physiotherapy has evolved and expanded its scope of practice by establishing a sports physiotherapy specialization which includes the advanced training in dry needling, you all know that they can‘t truly replace what you do. But they will definitely try to slide you off the table (figuratively, of course)!

    So, before they completely take you off the map, get in there, needles up, and take back what‘s yours.

    Overcoming Acu-Obstacles

    You, as an acupuncturist, know that what you do is powerful. Unfortunately, the system as a whole in sports medicine is not so keen to letting you on the team.

    Since you are taught a complete system of medicine, you can even consider yourself over-qualified for the sole practice of acupuncture. However, this means that your entire scope of practice can overlap with others. This is what makes it tricky. This is what brings in a sort of “gray area”.

    Here are some obstacles you may have to overcome:

    1. Asserting yourself into the mix can step on some toes

    A massage therapist is welcomed into a team of sports physicians with open arms. Since most athletic therapists and physiotherapists have their hands full (quite literally), they are more open to passing on the service of massaging their athletes to more open and empty hands. Especially since it only encompasses the one task of massaging, a massage therapist‘s service doesn‘t jeopardize any scope of the roles of a different therapist.

    Acupuncture, on the other hand, does.

    Although you are practiced in acupuncture, your knowledge and services move also well-past it, handling practices that don‘t just succumb to needles—which is just the “tip” of what you can do.

    This means that your services will overlap with the roles of other medical professionals on-staff. Which also means, you might not be as welcomed into a team who sees your versatility as a threat.

    Since the skills of an acupuncturist also encompass those of most therapeutic professions, most notably of physiotherapy, you can be often referred to when they need any type of a range of therapies.

    This may cause tension in the workplace, setting the stage for a complicated web of occupational demands, professional relations, and practice settings.

    2. You‘re not taken seriously.

    In most cases, most Sports Medicine Professionals don‘t see acupuncture or those who are specialists of it as a real need in sports. Acupuncturists are cast-aside as “Manual Therapists”, specializing in a service not seen as commonly needed in most sports.

    Other sports medicine practitioners see what you do as simply just a single form of treatment, not realizing that what an acupuncturist does isn‘t the same as what they are.

    Not realizing that what an acupuncturist does stems from a different philosophy of medical care.

    Not realizing what you as an acupuncturist can truly do.

    Especially since this view isn‘t the most welcoming, you might have to overcome a few un-friendly, pre-determined mindsets about who you are and what you can offer a team. Fortunately, you have been trained as a primary caregiver at your home practice, which means that you‘ve got your mind right—seeing yourself as an all-encompassing entity.

    3. You‘re seen as a threat.

    As soon as the other staff members on the team recognize what you can do, they might not like that you can actually take care of some of their roles for them.

    Since an acupuncturist can treat patients and players more ways than one, you‘re not just seen as a new member of the team, you‘re seen as their biggest rival player.

    Although these pre-determined opinions about who you are and what you do may leave a heavy chip on your shoulder, you need to know what you‘re up against before you head into an all-out sports medicine war.

    It‘s important to have the right mindset—no matter what the case may be—so you can approach the setting in a calm, educated manner and get you that position on the team.

    You also might see this as a turn-off to being part of a team. However, there are so many benefits to asserting yourself as a prominent staff member of an all-star sports medicine lineup.

    Benefits of Being Part of a Team

    Although you might not be up to the challenge, being part of a team—on a team—working for a team—can be extremely fulfilling.

    Especially if you have been a solo practitioner for the majority of your medical career, getting into sports medicine on your local sports team or a professional club can be a great way to be a part of a group of like-minded people who all have one goal in common: the ultimate health for each patient and getting them to perform pain-free.

    No matter what sport you may be working with, the well-being of each individual athlete is important. Your role as a member of a sports medicine team can help you not only focus on the needs of a player but also be a part of a team that can take care of the entire group as a whole.

    With an on-team position, you will:

    • Have security in your job—once they see the necessity of your position and how you can help the individual athlete.
    • Have a common goal in mind and work with others to get to it. This team atmosphere can truly increase the feeling of fulfillment in your work.
    • Work from an individual standpoint and a team standpoint—you get the best of both worlds.
    • Have other people on-staff that can not only back you up but also partner with the treatment you do.
    • Be a part of a great cause—helping athletes do what they do best.

    Ready for Tryouts? The Coach Will Be Evaluating You

    If you‘ve ever been an ex-athlete, you know how nerve-racking a tryout can be.

    Before the day comes, you probably trained to your best abilities, prepared by eating a proper meal, stayed hydrated, and hoped you fit the bill according to what the coach was looking for.

    Well, what if we told you we have the exact checklist of what the coach will be looking for in a new member of their medical staff?

    You already have the odds stacked up against you, so, you might as well prepare yourself to take on the job:

    • Make sure you are ready to work as a team player. Just like sports, an acupuncturist on-staff needs to be willing to lay down his or her pride to take on whatever task the team may need.Especially as the all-encompassing medical professional that you are, this shouldn‘t be too hard since you are well-established with the training, education, and experience to handle most types of treatment.If you‘ve been practicing solo for quite a while (or your entire career), being part of a medical team might be a brand new situation for you. However, if you see your skillset as one functioning part (a very important one) of a fully-encompassing and well-equipped machine, this can help you get that team mindset and work with it.
    • You need to be able to work with clear boundaries. Especially coming from your own business or working in an acupuncture-only clinic, you might not be used to someone telling you what you should or should not do. However, as a sports acupuncturist, you need to be able to work within a team‘s framework.Keeping the athlete‘s concerns at the forefront of everything you do can help you stay within clearly-marked boundaries that staff may appoint to you. Each practitioner on-staff complements one another, not only through the scopes of their practices but also through the hierarchy of the physicians and other members on the team.Normally, you have to be okay with the physician having ultimate authority and say.

      This may mean hanging up your crown as King practitioner and replacing it with the armor of a knight or even the rags of a peasant (grim metaphor, I know). However, to humble yourself, take directions, and being responsible for less than you are actually capable of are all the not-so-fun but very important parts of being on a team.

    • Be ready to travel—and to not travel. In most cases with teams, there will be an away game, tournament or need to train off-campus or far away from home.As an acupuncturist, you might find yourself in one of two roles: either a part of on-site emergency care in competitive settings or staying in the back and dealing with management of long-term or short-term injury in rehabilitation settings.Most likely, (depending on the staff-size and availability), your medical spectrum will be assigned to out-of-competition injury rehabilitation and prevention. However, it is part of your role as a sports acupuncturist to be ready to fill the shoes of whichever pair you‘re given.

    Did You Make the Cut? Everything You Need for the On-Team Roster

    Let‘s say you got your foot in the door and the on-staff leader or appointed head coach is beginning to communicate with you about the possibility of being the newest member of their sports medicine team.

    There are a few things you need to be aware of and make your mind up about before you pack your medical kit and bring it to the athletic clubhouse.

    First and foremost, being aware of your predicament and placement in a team is important.

    In most professional sports teams, the staff includes members of medical and health professionals. When it comes to acupuncturists, an athlete will often be referred to one off-site who runs his or her own independent practice. Knowing this before you head off for your first day can be extremely helpful.

    You will need to know how you want to perform or offer your services before you pitch your presentation. To help you out, here are a few things you ought to know.

    Acupuncture can be taught in a couple of different ways. You can either present your services through:

    • Treating athletes at a private practice in your own offices. The team will work with you through referral from the AT, PT or MD on-staff.This type can benefit you through its flexibility and working from your “home” or main offices. In general, it is also pretty adapting to your particular style, location, and care.
    • Treating athletes at their on-site facility. This is the most recommended way to truly be a part of the team. If you‘re going to go ahead and make the commitment to be on a sports team medical staff, you will want to be thought of as a primary form of care instead of an afterthought referral.This type makes you accessible and hands-on. The athletes will see you much more often, thus creating a link in their mind about you being an everyday member of their team.To be seen as a part of a group and being accepted fully into an already-formed medical gang, it truly is about presence. You will need to know if you are willing to make the sacrifices to be physically supportive and there on-site when needed.

    The structure of sports medical staff and systems are different from school to school, team to team, and also can differ based on athletic level or competition.

    This can also help prepare you for what‘s in store for your typical workday. If you are wanting to commit to something once or a couple of times a week, you might not want to apply for a professional or division one athletic-level team.

    The structure of the sports systems can be defined as followed:

    High School and Smaller Colleges

    • Won‘t have such a huge budget for the sports medicine staff and might not be accepting an expansion of more roles on the team.However, if an opening is presented, an all-encompassing professional like an acupuncturist (YOU), can jump right into that role and even present a benefit of knowing more than just the standard forms of treatment.
    • Who to Contact: With high schools and smaller colleges, your initial contact should be with the Athletic Trainer or the Physical Therapist on staff.They are often responsible for multiple sports, (possibly) hundreds of athletes, and are generally overwhelmed with the need for more helping hands. They will normally have an athletic director as head of the medical team (and everything else).This director won‘t be familiar with medical knowledge him- or herself but is in charge of contracting and assigning personnel for medical care. This will be your go-to guy or gal for your contract.

    Amateur, Division One Collegiate, and Professional Level

    • Will generally have much more money to support a bigger or more advanced Medical Team, thus making them more open to taking you on as an acupuncturist and as a full-fledged member of their staff.
    • You‘ll most likely be working under the team‘s MD or PT, which will decrease your scope of practice. You‘ll also have to be able to communicate in “western terms” and work as a team.
    • Who to Contact: Your point-of-reference will be getting in contact with the Medical Director.This director is in charge of not only the team of Athletic Trainers but also of Physical Therapists, Psychologists, Massage Therapists, and the coaches.

    In general, getting your foot in the door is important. However, how you lodge your therapist, not-so-stylish clogs in there is also key to the beginning of a successful partnership.

    Other Ways You Can Make Contact

    You‘re in luck—as we mentioned before, these teams and positions exist to care for the athlete. An athlete-driven career is only as successful as the athletes themselves. Not only does this mean that the athletes have to perform well to make the entire team successful, but they also have to have the motivation to get better or to have optimal services available to them (like yours).

    Fortunately, building your network (not only through LinkedIn, but through real-life connections) with athletes and coaches can truly help you in getting an introduction to the Medical or Athletic Director. If the athlete or coach sees a need for your service, they can help be the liaison to your next job interview.

    Of course, contacting the Athletic Director or Medical Director Office Assistant directly will get you a quicker response. However, having an on-team member, who is already valued at the organization, referring you can help your chances of marching on into the office.

    Nailing Your First Practice: Pierce Them With Your Presentation

    Whether you‘ve just been hired and need to make your first impression a great one or you have this one last opportunity to make your case to the hiring staff, there are two types of presentations that should and need to happen.

    These presentations are vital to the integration of your role into the team and as the newbie on-staff. They are:

    Presentation to Other Healthcare Professionals

    Whether they are on staff as your equals or evaluating you as your superiors, this presentation can make or break how they view you in the workplace.

    Make sure you are founding this proposal on professionalism, medical experience, and background knowledge.

    You should use this as a full-on opportunity to dive into acupuncture, how it works, relevant research, and all kinds of statistics supporting acupuncture and its benefits with athletes.

    You need to emphasize your ability, willingness, and how the team can profit from the compatibility of your services, which are complementary of theirs (that you are not coming in trying to take their place).

    You need to define your expectations, motivations, and goals as a new member of this staff and what you can get out of it (like advertising or experience), as well as what they can get out of you.

    Presentation to the Athletes

    Most athletes (and people in general) are not very keen when it comes to needles, pricking, poking or anything sharp.

    They are also hesitant as patients when a practice comes into play that is unfamiliar to them—like acupuncture might be.

    This presentation can help you not only introduce yourself and what you do but also familiarize the athletes about how your services can benefit them. It will definitely help those needles look less scary!

    You should be emphasizing not only how acupuncture works but also how it relates to them. The athletes need to know how it can help their performance, how it alleviates their injuries, and how acu-awesome it is. Use specific examples and truly tailor it to their individual goals as athletes.

    Introduce acupuncture as a form of treatment and what to expect. If you are working off-site at your own practice, make sure they know your information: address, hours, ways of contacting you, etc.

    Especially since acupuncture isn‘t such a widely-used type of treatment, athletes might not even be familiar with it, decreasing the chances of them coming to you for treatment. This presentation can help you open those doors and start to build that connection between their needs and your services.

    First-Hand Accounts and FAQs

    We know that this might have been quite a lot to take in. We also know you most likely have some questions.

    Which is why we‘ve put together real-world answers to your most frequently asked questions. Answers by acupuncturists and other professionals like you, who have already gotten their feet wet in sports medicine.

    What would be the best way for an acupuncturist to approach you if they are interested in working with you?

    • Avoid cold calls if at all cost possibly. The best place to start is by asking your community and current patients. Who do you know who dances in the Oregon Ballet? Who do you know that plays for your local sports team? The first step is to just start the conversation with people. Let the world know what you want. Once you have a warm lead, you can use that person’s name to open the door. It is incredible valuable, because people will listen to you when they have a little trust in you. “ I have been working with X and I have found that acupuncture is the most effective tool for recovery and rehabilitation.” That will lead you into other opportunity for presentation or face to face contact. If you do have to do a cold call. Call and ask if they take presentations. “Acupuncture is such good medicine for your athletes can I come and talk to you team about the benefit of Acupuncture.” You could even ask to take the Athletic Trainer out to lunch to learn more about what they do, if asking for a presentation seem like too much.The biggest hurdle for you to overcome before you reach out sports teams is get through the tenderness and vulnerability of being scared that you will upset them or be judged about being an acupuncturist and the medicine.

      Jason Stein, Coach of successful entrepreneurs and small business owners

    • I think what works for me is to come to campus or initially an email which clearly stated the focus of the visits or work to be done… is it research, is it business expansion, is it development of clientele base, is is reaching out to new group of clients – age, athletic etc.

      Jayme Frazier, LBCC Roadrunner Women’s Head Volleyball Coach and full-time faculty for the Health & Human Performance Department.

    • Honestly, if you hadn’t given us a full presentation like you did, I am not convinced I would of followed through with believing you could help our athletes. After hearing your presentation, I was able to clearly see your professionalism, medical background knowledge and your character. That presentation led me to be more interested in the value of acupuncture for athletes.

      Debbi Herrold, LBCC women’s Head Basketball Coach

    • An acupuncturist should contact the athletic department or athletic director and request a meeting with the athletic director. During the meeting the acupuncturist should present the benefits of acupuncture for athletes and ask if they can make a presentation to coaches and coaching staff at a department. I would expect coaches and coaching staff to be enthusiastic about the benefits of acupuncture but the final decision will be made by the athletic director.

      Gayle Rushing, LBCC Administrative Assistant

    • I guess I would first say that they shouldn’t approach teams directly. There is staggering variety of professional relationships when we look at medical interventions and athletes. High school programs will be dramatically different than college teams and professional organizations will offer even more variety with regards to these relationships.The advice that I would give to practitioners interested in working with athletes would be to start with the person that coordinates the health care personnel for the given team or organization. For high school athletes this would generally be the athletic director for the school… For professional organizations (college, NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS, etc.) I would contact the Medical Director.The contact should be more introductory than anything. I really wouldn’t spend a lot of time, just a quick email introducing yourself, a bit of background, any relevant research that provides strong evidence in support of acupuncture and an offer to help in any way possible.

      This may seem dismissive or negative but let me explain:

      1. These positions (if a position even exists) are usually filled by multidisciplinary practitioners (Chirporactors, Physical Therapists, Massage Therapists) that simply “add” needling therapy to their treatments. If there isn’t anyone that is providing acupuncture in the organization there can often be a bias against it. If not, great! You’ve made an introduction and offered your services.

      2. Depending on the league and the organization of medical staffing, Acupuncture specific positions either do not exist or they are already filled… In these environments, the players are often left to seek out treatment on their own (this is common in the NFL and MLS). So there really isn’t direction by the team or organization to go to person X for care.

      As for my experience, I have been working with MLB players, Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders now for 4 years. Even after all this time, there is no full time contracted position with the Seahawks or the Sounders. The players come to me because the Medical Director or other players have referred them to me. These relationships had nothing to do with a formal introduction or contact with the team. In every case the referrals came from treating someone who knew someone who knew someone…

      I do not believe that this is how things should be, I believe that all teams and organizations should staff acupuncturists full time… Unfortunately that is not how it is.

      Jason M. Landry EAMP, Licensed practitioner and the owner of Lake Washington Integrative Medicine

    What concerns do you have about using acupuncture to support your team and players?

    • Initially, I was wondering how we could meet the needs of the student athletes as a larger group and then be able to give each specific individualized time to make a difference. I also felt like I needed to plug the business some so that it made it worthwhile for the clinician. That was just my own feelings of guilt that this process might have been taking too much of your donated time. Also, I believe that I was not educated initially on the benefits of acupuncture – so there was reserve and hesitation that it would actually work…especially if used in place of formerly used modes of pain relief or recovery.

      Jayme Frazier, LBCC Roadrunner Women’s Head Volleyball Coach and full-time faculty for the Health & Human Performance Department.

    • I wouldn’t really have any concerns. I feel like we really had the best of both worlds. Our athletes were able to be treated with acupuncture, and still have the services of an athletic trainer as well. I do believe the athletic trainer and the acupuncturist have to respect each others profession and what each can do to benefit the athlete. Working together as a team is best for the athlete.

      Debbi Herrold, LBCC women’s Head Basketball Coach

    • It’s very important that the ACT knows what every athletes is doing. The ATC is hired to be the coordinator of the athletes care and communicate with the coaches. If there is not communications between the ATC and the care providers the athletes are seeing it is very hard to coordinate it all

      Erin Scharer, MS, ATC, Athletic trainer at LBCC and former Coordinator of Sports Medicine, Athletic Trainer at Willamette University

    • From an administrative viewpoint, the biggest concern would be liability so the acupuncturist will need to show proof of insurance coverage along with qualifications.For the student-athlete, acupuncture is not always covered by personal medical insurance or a college’s medical insurance plan so the student-athlete may be liable for any charges resulting from acupuncture care.

      Gayle Rushing, LBCC Administrative Assistant

    • The only voiced concerns from the medical staff (outside of the obvious request not to injure players) have been related to the communication with each individual player. I have often been directed to withhold any specific concerns that I may have about the potential for re-injury or full fitness. Teams want the players to have a positive outlook and mindset about their recovery. They do not want anyone to undermine the confidence that is necessary for these athletes to perform at their maximum potential.As for the athletes themselves, If they don’t like the therapy or treatment they won’t return. They know their bodies and they have received an enormous amount of medical care at the professional level. If you’re good they will know, if not they won’t come back.

      Jason M. Landry EAMP, Licensed practitioner and the owner of Lake Washington Integrative Medicine

    What are the two biggest hurdles with added acupuncture as part of your program?

    • Time as a larger group to meet specific needs and cost. I knew that if we were to go with this fully, there has to be a large cost commitment in an already strained budget. And.. deep down I did worry about whether or not one of my athletes might have some type of physical or emotional reactions to the therapy.

      Jayme Frazier, LBCC Roadrunner Women’s Head Volleyball Coach and full-time faculty for the Health & Human Performance Department.

    • Time to squeeze in treatment amongst school, practice, study hall, physical therapy (athletic trainer exercises if they are involved). Fear of needles some people have.

      Debbi Herrold, LBCC women’s Head Basketball Coach

    • I think just making sure the care fits properly into the sports schedule. Don’t want an athlete to get a treatment on the day before a game that is going to make them very sore. Coaches get pretty upset about that.

      Erin Scharer, MS, ATC, Athletic trainer at LBCC and former Coordinator of Sports Medicine, Athletic Trainer at Willamette University

    • Cost to the college to potentially add an acupuncturist to their payroll.Cost to athletes if acupuncture services are not a covered medical charge with personal medical insurance

      Gayle Rushing, LBCC Administrative Assistant

    • The biggest hurdle without a doubt is scheduling… The players are BUSY you have to fit treatment into their schedule and not your own. For me this has meant flying back to Seattle from holiday vacations early , coming in to the office on days off or staying late into the evenings to accommodate the players availability.

      Another hurdle can be the medical staff for the team. For example, I had a player with a grade 2 strain of the medial gastrocnemius. I was directed to treat that and that only. The player was giving me a history that sounded more like recruitment abnormalities and there was obvious atrophy. The medical staff had already “ruled out” any spinal pathology. After treating the lower leg with limited improvement, the low back was finally re-evaluated and nerve root impingement was diagnosed. If this were my patient I would have referred them for a second opinion with a spinal specialist after the first visit. I raised my concerns with the medical director… My instructions were to stick with the lower leg and they would re-evaluate the low back if. need be.

      Jason M. Landry EAMP, Licensed practitioner and the owner of Lake Washington Integrative Medicine

    Do you have any other thoughts or suggestions for acupuncturist?

    • I do know that it was very helpful to have the education along with the sessions. It educated the athletes and made them a little more accountable for their own health and opened their eyes to another form of therapy / recovery etc.

      Jayme Frazier, LBCC Roadrunner Women’s Head Volleyball Coach and full-time faculty for the Health & Human Performance Department.

    • Talk the athletes through the acupuncture procedure step by step. Teach them why you are doing what you are doing. A committed athlete will want to know everything they can about moving beyond injuries or regaining 100% function. The athletes themselves will be the best voices for acupuncture and its benefits.

      Debbi Herrold, LBCC women’s Head Basketball Coach

    • If they want to be accepted into a program it really important to understand that the ATC needs to be in the loop.

      Erin Scharer, MS, ATC, Athletic trainer at LBCC and former Coordinator of Sports Medicine, Athletic Trainer at Willamette University

    • I definitely heard a lot of positive comments and feedback from coaches, coaching staff and athletes as to the benefits of acupuncture. Acupuncture complimented the athletic trainer services and provided athletes another method to treat injuries.

      Gayle Rushing, LBCC Administrative Assistant

    • My take home for all acupuncturists is simple. BE GOOD AT WHAT YOU DO. Always push to learn more, improve your technique, sharpen your diagnostic skills and never believe that you have it all figured out. There will always be opportunities, some you may not be ready for and that’s ok. With hard work and a lot of effort you will eventually be more than good enough to take advantage of the opportunities when they come

      Jason M. Landry EAMP, Licensed practitioner and the owner of Lake Washington Integrative Medicine