The Feasibility and Effects of Acupuncture in an Adolescent Nordic Ski Population.

Author: Garlanger KL1, Fredericks WH2, Do A3, Bauer BA4, Laskowski ER5
1Mayo Clinic Scholar, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN. Electronic address:
2Resident, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN.
3Licensed Acupuncturist, Department of Integrative Medicine and Health, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.
4Professor, Department of General Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN.
5Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN.
Conference/Journal: PM R.
Date published: 2016 Nov 30
Other: Pages: S1934-1482(16)31197-2 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.pmrj.2016.11.010. [Epub ahead of print] , Word Count: 397

BACKGROUND: Studies investigating the use and effectiveness of acupuncture in adults post exercise have been well documented. Fewer studies involving acupuncture have been completed in the adolescent athlete population. To our knowledge there are no published studies that investigate the use of acupuncture in adolescent athletes within their field of play.

OBJECTIVE: To primarily assess the feasibility of performing acupuncture in adolescent Nordic skiers within their athletic environment, and secondarily to measure the effect of acupuncture on muscle soreness and sense of well-being.

DESIGN: Prospective feasibility study.

SETTING: Local outdoor cross country ski trails and indoor lodge.

PARTICIPANTS: Fifteen healthy participants (80% female, 20% male; age 14-17 years) were involved on at least one of five treatment days.

INTERVENTION: Fifteen minute treatments were administered using traditional needle acupuncture following the first five consecutive Nordic ski team practices of the season in an attempt to capture the effect of acupuncture on delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Acupuncture points specific to muscle groups in the lower limbs which are commonly reported as painful during Nordic skiing were chosen. Pre- and post-treatment surveys included visual analog scales (VAS) to track participant responses.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Time, cost, side effects and participant to provider ratio was observed to determine feasibility. Effect on muscle soreness and sense of well-being was measured via pre- and post- treatment VAS (0-10) rating analyses.

RESULTS: Total time required by research staff on treatment days was 90 minutes; total cost, $1500; temperature range, -13.9 to -2.8 degrees Celsius and largest ratio of participant to acupuncturist, 7:1. No major side effects occurred. Majority (73%) reported minimal side effects; most common was treatment site pain. Overall pre- to post-treatment effect on muscle soreness (average over five days) demonstrated significantly improved post-treatment scores (p=.04). The effect of the day (average over pre- and post- treatment values) demonstrated significantly higher muscle soreness scores on Day 3 vs. Day 1 (p=.03). At study completion, every participant indicated they would consider acupuncture in the future and recommend treatments to friends or teammates.

CONCLUSION: Providing acupuncture to adolescent Nordic ski athletes in the practice field under extreme temperatures is feasible with the appropriate resources. Despite mild side effects, acupuncture was well received by the athletes. Lessons learned from this trial can provide a framework for delivering acupuncture to other athletes in their training environment.

Copyright © 2016 American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID: 27915067 DOI: 10.1016/j.pmrj.2016.11.010