Acupuncture has suddenly caught the attention of fitness freaks and sportspersons, who have greatly benefitted from this therapy.Dr. Raman Kapur, a renowned medical acupuncture specialist, practicing in New Delhi since the last 32 years shares his experiences of treating some well known sportsmen with acupuncture:Acupuncture is one of the quickest ways to restore muscle balanceIndian players:Cricketer Yuvraj Singh came to him in March 2013, with a history of migraine headaches which he has had since 2007. Yuvraj used to take frequent medications to get relief. The headaches were accompanied by blurring of vision and pain around his eye ball. His trigger would often be empty stomach, causing wind and then headaches. Yuvraj who had a disturbed sleep pattern also suffered from nasal allergies accompanied with urticaria. Another problem which had taken a toll on his career was his severe left sided neck stiffness. He also had recurrent episodes of low back pain radiating to his legs, causing him to often miss matches.Yuvraj who had a disturbed sleep pattern also suffered from nasal allergies accompanied with urticariaAll these problems were treated concurrently by Dr. Raman Kapur with acupuncture wherein he used a combination of body acupuncture points and ear acupuncture points to great effect. Today, Yuvraj has recovered and is super fit. Yuvraj said, “The best part of this therapy is that it is safe and drugless without any side effects and I have made a significant recovery. I feel the therapy should be made popular so that more sportspersons and cricketers can get benefits.”advertisementAnother famous polo player, Mr. Navin Khanna, took acupuncture treatment for his recurrent tennis elbow and got fully cured by Dr. Raman Kapur. International players:According to Matt Callison, a faculty member at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and licensed acupuncturist in San Diego, California, traditional Chinese medicine has been an extremely helpful and growing trend in athletics for quite a while.San Francisco 49ers team members, Steve Young and Jerry Rice have been treated with sports acupuncture, and Canadian speed skater Kevin Overland received sports acupuncture to help him earn a bronze medal in the 1998 Olympics.As a sports acupuncturist, Callison has been treating athletes for 11 years. Three of those years were spent with the Minnesota Vikings during their playoff run, and he now treats many of the San Diego Chargers.There are no side effects of acupuncture treatments when provided by a fully trained and licensed acupuncturistPacific College use acupuncture to help rehabilitate post-operative injuries, sports injuries and athletic performance by increasing range of motion, muscle strength and tissue healing potential.Callison reported that the most common injuries he treats athletes for are muscle contusions and tendinitis, as well as over-use injuries involving the lower back, shoulder, knee and ankle, all examples of common sports injury areas. These injuries typically require two sports acupuncture treatments a week, with a varied recovery time depending on the injury.Marcellus Wiley, a defensive end for the San Diego Chargers, is one patient who noticed how quickly he felt the benefit of acupuncture.”I responded quickly and favorably to the treatment. It was refreshing to receive therapy that allowed me to sustain my health for the duration of a season and physically grueling career, “said Wiley.How does it work?According to Dr. Kapur, both Oriental medicine and sports medicine techniques focus on proprioception, which he defines as the muscles’ awareness communicating to the central nervous system. Injury can disrupt this communication, thus hindering balance.”Acupuncture is one of the quickest ways to restore muscle balance,” Dr. Kapur said. “When acupuncture is used at specific sites, the muscle spindles are reset, and then that balance is reawakened.”Kapur further adds, “When you insert a sports acupuncture needle to a motor point region, it changes the awareness that the muscle reports to the central nervous system, and that is completely different”.Sports acupuncture consists of the gentle insertion and stimulation of thin, disposable sterile needles at strategic points near the surface of the body. Over 2,000 sports acupuncture points on the human body connect with 14 major pathways, called meridians. Chinese medicine practitioners believe that these meridians conduct qi, or energy, between the surface of the body and internal organs.It is qi that regulates spiritual, emotional, mental and physical balance. Disruption of the flow of qi through poor health habits or other circumstances can result in pain and disease. Sports acupuncture helps to keep the normal flow of this energy unblocked and “fine-tune the bio-electric system. “This ability to fine-tune and restore the body’s balance makes sports acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine a viable preventative therapy that greatly enhances sports medicine exercises. Many players come to see me for injury prevention by way of balancing their opposing muscle groups, especially to work on common sports injury points,” says Dr Kapur.advertisementSide-effectsDr. Kapur maintains that there are no side effects of acupuncture treatments when provided by a fully trained and licensed acupuncturist. In 1993, the National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference on acupuncture released a similar affirmation: “The data in support of acupuncture are as strong as those for many accepted Western medical therapies. One of the advantages of acupuncture is that the incidence of adverse side effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other medical procedures used for the same conditions. Athletes especially need to be balanced and take care of their bodies. That is what acupuncture does. Every athlete can benefit from it in that respect.”Dr Raman Kapur is the Chairman, Dept. of Medical Acupuncture at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi.