05. July 2016 · Comments Off · Categories: Acupuncture, Exercise

Acupuncture can accelerate the relief of post-exercise fatigue by regulating energy metabolism and attenuating the effects of oxidative stress on body tissues, according to a pilot study by Chinese scientists. Fourteen athletes undertook a series of exhaustive physical exercises followed by a short-term rest, and were then treated with acupuncture (TA group) or enjoyed an extended rest (TR group). The TA group received 30 minutes of needling at Zusanli ST-36, Weizhong BL-40, Guanyuan REN-4 and Shenshu BL-23. Nuclear magnetic resonance-based metabolomics analysis was applied to investigate the metabolic profiles of urine samples collected from the athletes before exercise, before and after acupuncture, or during the extended rest. The results indicated that levels of key metabolites in the Krebs cycle and glycolysis (such as lactate, succinate, pyruvate and citrate), which had been disturbed by exercise, recovered significantly faster in the athletes treated with acupuncture compared with those who took rest.
The Intervention Effects of Acupuncture on Fatigue Induced by Exhaustive Physical Exercises: A Metabolomics Investigation. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:508302.

An Australian systematic review has found preliminary support for the use of acupuncture as a means to enhance exercise performance and post-exercise recovery. Four trials were reviewed by the researchers, of which three evaluated the effect of acupuncture on exercise performance. One of these trials noted that electro-acupuncture stimulation at either Jianshi P-5 and Neiguan P-6 or Lieque LU-7 and Hegu L.I.-4 significantly increased peak power output, blood pressure and rate pressure product (RPP) versus control. Two trials documented no effect of acupuncture on exercise performance. The other trial evaluated the effect of acupuncture on post-exercise recovery and found that heart rate, oxygen consumption and blood lactate were significantly reduced following acupuncture at Neiguan P-6 and Zusanli ST-36, versus control and placebo conditions, at 30 or 60 minutes post exercise. The authors recommend more high-quality studies. (Effect of Acute Acupuncture Treatment on Exercise Performance and Postexercise Recovery: A Systematic Review. J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Sep 11. [Epub ahead of print]).

Yoga is a more effective treatment for chronic lower back pain than conventional GP care, according to the UK’s largest ever study into its benefits. The trial involved 313 people who were receiving GP care for chronic back pain. Participants were randomised to receive usual care alone, or usual care plus 12 weeks of group yoga classes specially designed for those with lower back pain. The results showed that the yoga group had better back function at three, six and 12 months compared with the usual care group. Around 60% of people in the yoga group continued with their practice after the end of the classes. (Yoga for chronic low back pain: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2011 Nov 1;155(9):569-78). In another study from the USA, 228 adults with chronic low back pain were randomised to 12 weekly classes of yoga, conventional stretching exercises or a self-care book. Yoga was found to be more effective in improving function and reducing symptoms than self-care (-2.5 versus -1.1 points on a 23-point disability scale), but not more effective than stretching (at six, 12 and 26 weeks). (A Randomized Trial Comparing Yoga, Stretching, and a Self-care Book for Chronic Low Back Pain. Arch Intern Med. 2011 Dec 12;171(22):2019-26).

A systematic review by UK authors has concluded that exercising in the natural environment leads to greater benefits in mental and physical wellbeing than exercising indoors. Eleven controlled trials incorporating information from 833 adults were included in the review. The study found that most trials showed an improvement in mental well-being: compared with exercising indoors, exercising in natural environments was associated with greater feelings of revitalisation, increased energy and positive engagement, together with decreases in tension, confusion, anger and depression. Participants also reported greater enjoyment and satisfaction with outdoor activity and stated that they were more likely to repeat the activity at a later date. (Does participating in physical activity in outdoor natural environments have a greater effect on physical and mental wellbeing than physical activity indoors? A systematic review. Environ Sci Technol. 2011 Mar 1;45(5):1761-72).

Excessive exercise can be as addictive as heroin, according to US scientists, and stopping can lead to withdrawal symptoms. The scientists believe that extreme exercise causes increases in endogenous opioid peptides (endorphins), which act in the brain a manner similar to chronic administration of opiate drugs. The psychologists observed a group of rats, some of which exercised excessively on a wheel and others which were inactive. When they administered naloxone (an opioid receptor antagonist that blocks the actions of opioids) to the animals, active and inactive rats responded very differently. The active rats showed withdrawal symptoms similar to those observed in rats that were addicted to heroin. The non-active rats were unaffected. (Running and addiction: precipitated withdrawal in a rat model of activity-based anorexia. Behav Neurosci. 2009 Aug;123(4):905-12).

Acupuncture can reduce blood lactic acid and enhance recovery from muscle fatigue after exercise, according to Taiwanese scientists. Thirty male university basketball players were randomly assigned to three groups: acupuncture, sham and no treatment. Acupuncture was carried out at Neiguan P-6 and Zusanli ST-36 beginning 15 minutes prior to exercise and continuing until exhaustion of the subject. In the sham group needling was one centimetre away from the acupoints. Results showed that the acupuncture group had significantly lower heart rate, oxygen consumption and blood lactic acid than both the sham and no treatment groups at the 30th minute post-exercise. Blood lactic acid in the acupuncture group was also significantly lower than that in the other two groups at the 60th minute post-exercise. (Effects of acupuncture stimulation on recovery ability of male elite basketball athletes. Am J Chin Med. 2009;37(3):471-81).

An American randomised controlled trial has compared the lipid-lowering effects of lifestyle changes plus dietary supplements with a standard dose of a statin drug. The study enrolled 74 patients with hypercholesterolaemia and randomised them to an alternative treatment group (AG) or simvastatin (40 mg / d). The alternative treatment included therapeutic lifestyle changes (weekly education meetings, adherence to a Mediterranean diet, aerobic exercise, relaxation with tai chi and yoga, and weight loss) and ingestion of red yeast rice and fish oil supplements for 12 weeks. The simvastatin group received medication and traditional counselling. There was a statistically significant reduction in LDL cholesterol levels in both the AG (-42.4%) and the simvastatin group (-39.6%). No significant differences were noted between groups. The AG also demonstrated significant reductions in triglycerides (-29% vs -9.3%) and weight (-5.5% vs -0.4%) compared with the simvastatin group. (Simvastatin vs therapeutic lifestyle changes and supplements: randomized primary prevention trial. Mayo Clin Proc. 2008 Jul;83(7):758-64).

Tai chi is as effective as a brisk walk in raising heart rate variability (HRV). A Korean crossover study recruited 24 volunteers between 24 and 35 years. Subjects either walked on a treadmill at six kilometres an hour (just under three miles per hour) or performed tai chi for 20 minutes daily, for a week. Mean heart rate was found to be similar for both forms of exercise and the HRV was also comparable. HRV is an important indicator of physiological resiliency, reflecting the capacity of the individual to adapt effectively to stress. (American Academy of Family Physicians Annual Scientific Assembly, October 2007).