Athletes have to be in tip-top shape, and a lot goes into maintaining their body’s optimum strength. The daily grind of working out, practicing, and performing takes a toll. And when athletes get hurt, as those in the pro ranks almost inevitably do, the road to to recovery can be long and arduous. Whether an athlete is looking to stay free from injury or recovering from one, acupuncture is one way to keep a leg up on the opposition.
Peter D’Aquino calls himself a “sports acupuncturist”, and while he admits that that title is a bit made up—as “sports acupuncture” doesn’t truly exist—he has studied the ancient method of acupuncture and has developed a practice to specifically treat athletes.
“Sports acupuncture looks at things like anatomy, movement patterns, gait, posture, and trigger points, so it goes way beyond the old-fashioned ideas,” D’Aquino says. While there’s nothing “old-fashioned” about traditional and effective acupuncture methods, D’Aquino says he tries to look deeper on those ideas so he can better treat issues specific to athletes and the types of activities they partake in.
“I look into traditional TCM patterns that are previously established, but take it a step further and look into muscle testing, posture, and how someone is using their body,” D’Aquino says. “This helps me determine trigger points and where to place acupuncture needles.”
As acupuncture becomes a more popular pain and wellness treatment more broadly, there’s no doubt that more athletes will—and should—seek it out as a consistent part of their training and treatment regimen. The visibility of professional athletes who use acupuncture is growing. A few years ago, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers publicly thanked his acupuncturist for helping him recover quickly from an injury.
Rodgers isn’t alone. Other professional athletes who have publicly praised acupuncture are former NFL players Michael Strahan, James Harrison, James Farrior and Marcus Stroud; baseball players A.J. Burnett and Randy Johnson; NBA players Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley; and professional golfers Fred Couples and Gary Player.
And there are surely many more to come.