Category Archives: Injuries & Sport

Acupuncture for sports injuries, plus research on acupuncture and other interventions for enhanced performance & recovery.

Skipping Breakfast Impairs Sports Performance Later in Day

Breakfast and sports performance: Eating breakfast can help you perform better.
Elsewhere on my website, you will see my strong encouragement to eat breakfast. Now, besides the other benefits, researchers at Loughborough University have found that skipping breakfast can impair sports performance much later in the day.

Ten male, habitual breakfast eaters were put through two different trials. All participants arrived at the laboratory having fasted overnight, but they then either consumed or omitted a 733kcal breakfast. Subjects were allowed to eat freely their lunch 4.5 hours later and dinner 11 hours later. At the 9 hour point, they were put through an evening exercise test, completing a 30 minute cycling test at around 60% VO2 peak followed by a 30 minute maximal cycling performance test.

Perhaps not surprisingly, those who had not eaten breakfast, consumed around 200kcal more at lunch, but those who did eat breakfast, interestingly consumed more at dinner. The novel finding is that those who consumed breakfast, performed a significant 4.5% better during the exercise performance test.

(Effect of Breakfast Omission on Energy Intake and Evening Exercise Performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, online 12 May 2015. See

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Vitamin C and E Supplements may hamper Endurance Training

Too much of vitamins C and E supplements may interfere with endurance training.

Researchers at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, have found that taking vitamin C and E supplements may interfere with endurance training. High doses of vitamins C and E act as antioxidants, which is why athletes are attracted to them, but removing this oxidative stress, may block muscular endurance development.

In an eleven week, double-blind trial, 54 healthy young men and women were randomly allocated to receive either 1000mg vitamin C plus 235mg vitamin E, or a placebo pill containing no active ingredients. The participants then undertook an endurance training programme, consisting of three to four sessions per week, primarily of running. Fitness tests, blood samples and muscle biopsies were taken before and after the programme.

In endurance training, an adaptation is normally observed in the exercised muscles; this adaptation is characterised by an increase in mitochondrial proteins to improve muscular endurance. The results of this trial however, showed that in the group taking the vitamins, this increase was blunted.

Dr Gøran Paulsen, who led the study, says,“Our results indicate that high dosages of vitamin C and E – as commonly found in supplements – should be used with caution, especially if you are undertaking endurance training. Future studies are needed to determine the underlying mechanisms of these results, but we assume that the vitamins interfered with cellular signalling.

(Journal of Physiology, on-line 3 February 2014.)

Robin’s note: If you wish to address free radical generation during exercise, then instead try using food to do it. You need food with a high ORAC (oxygen radical absorption capacity) rating. Prunes are top of the list, followed by things like raisins, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, kale and spinach.

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Acupuncture superior to Exercise for Achilles Inflammation

Acupuncture for Achilles inflammation.
Researchers have found that compared with exercise therapy, acupuncture can produce significant and more rapid improvements in pain and activity levels in patients with chronic Achilles tendinopathy. Sufferers usually have pain, swelling and stiffness, often induced by overuse eg running, and treatment includes rest, painkillers and exercises to stretch and strengthen the tendon. The road to recovery can take three to six months.

In a randomized, controlled trial, 64 patients aged 18 to 70, were allocated to receive either acupuncture or exercise therapy. After 16 weeks, acupuncture had produced a symptom improvement of 26 points on a 100 point scale, compared with only 10 points for exercise therapy. After 24 weeks, these figures were 28 points and 17 points respectively. The researchers conclude acupuncture intervention could improve pain and activity in patients with chronic Achilles tendinopathy, compared with eccentric exercises.

(Acupuncture for Chronic Achilles Tendinopathy: A Randomized Controlled Study. Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine, on-line 21 December 2012)

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Acupuncture helps Performance and Recovery

Acupuncture research from Australia. University researchers in Sydney, Australia undertaking a systematic review, have found preliminary evidence for the usefulness of acupuncture to enhance exercise performance and post-workout recovery. They looked at four trials, of which three set out to determine the effect of acupuncture on exercise performance. One of these trials found significant enhancements in peak power output and blood pressure compared to controls. Two trials could find no effect on performance. The fourth trial evaluated the effect of acupuncture on post-exercise recovery, and found that heart rate, oxygen consumption and blood lactate were significantly lowered following acupuncture, compared with controls.
The authors recommend more high-quality studies, as there are limitations within existing literature.

(Effect of Acute Acupuncture Treatment on Exercise Performance and Postexercise Recovery: A Systematic Review. Journal of Altern & Complementary Medicine, 14 January 2013.)

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Ear Acupuncture Enhances Athletic Recovery

Ear acupuncture for athletic recovery

A study conducted in Taiwan appears to show that ear acupuncture can enhance athletic recovery after strenuous exercise. A total of 24 male university basketball players, mean age 21, were randomly divided into two groups: one received ear acupuncture, whilst the other merely had ear tape applied and so acted as a control. Both groups were then asked to ride an exercise bike to exhaustion.

At 30 and 60 minutes after exercise, both blood lactic acid levels and heart rate, were lower in the acupuncture group. Acupuncture also appeared to increase a subject’s oxygen uptake.

(Effects of Auricular Acupuncture on Heart Rate, Oxygen Consumption and Blood Lactic Acid for Elite Basketball Athletes. American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 2011.)

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