Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

The Feasibility and Effects of Acupuncture on Muscle Soreness and Sense of Well-being in an Adolescent Football Population

Luetmer, Marianne T. MD1; Do, Alexander L.Ac2; Canzanello, Nick C. DO1; Bauer, Brent A. MD2; Laskowski, Edward R. MD1,3

American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: May 23, 2019 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - p
doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000001226
Research Article: PDF Only

Objective To assess the feasibility of performing acupuncture on multiple adolescent athletes in a warm weather, high intensity training environment. To measure perceived effects of acupuncture on delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and sense of well-being.

Design Prospective feasibility study, registered clinical trial (NCT03478800). 42 healthy male participants, ages 13-18 years, were involved in at least one of five treatment days for a total of 147 individual treatment sessions. Fifteen-minute treatments of traditional needle acupuncture were administered at the football field. Time, cost, side effects, and participant to provider ratio were observed. Effect on DOMS and sense of well-being were measured via pre- and posttreatment VAS (0-10) rating analyses.

Results Time required by research staff on treatment days, 75 minutes; total cost, $700 temperature range, 21-28°C; largest participant to acupuncturist ratio, 7-10:1. No major side effects occurred; 55% reported minimal side effects such as mild focal numbness or tingling. Overall pre- to posttreatment effect on DOMS (average over 5 days) demonstrated significantly improved posttreatment scores (pre 4.6 ± 2.0; post 2.9 ± 2.2, p<.001). There was no significant effect on sense of well-being (p=0.12).

Conclusion Effectively providing acupuncture to multiple adolescent football players in their training environment is feasible with appropriate staff and resources. Despite mild side-effects, treatment was well tolerated. This study provides guidance on acupuncture delivery to other athletes in their training environments.

1Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

2Department of Integrative Medicine and Health

3Department of Sports Medicine Mayo Clinic Rochester, MN

Please address correspondence to: Edward Laskowski M.D. Department of Sports Medicine Mayo Clinic 200 1st Street SW Rochester, MN 55905 Email:

Disclosures: The authors have nothing to disclose. This study was funded by the Department of Integrative Medicine and Health at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.

Acknowledgements: We thank acupuncturists Molly J. Mallory L.Ac. and Sarah E. Bublitz L.Ac. for helping to make this study possible. We thank the Department of Integrative Medicine and Health for their financial and secretarial support, volunteers for assisting with treatment station set-up, and coaching staff for their collaboration and cooperation. We also thank biostatistician Tina Wood-Wentz M.S. for her statistical support and Dr. Kristin L. Garlanger D.O. for contributions from the previous study design. May 9, 2019

Copyright © 2019 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.