Researchers at Fernando Pessoa University in Portugal have shown that acupuncture helps exercise-induced muscle soreness. A total of 45 university physiotherapy students were randomised to either an acupuncture treatment group, a sham acupuncture group, or a control group. Exercise-induced muscle damage was brought on by five sets of twenty, barefoot drop jumps. Muscle soreness and pressure-pain threshold were then assessed at different time points: before the first acupuncture session; 20 minutes after acupuncture; 24 hours later; before the second acupuncture session; 20 minutes after acupuncture. Acupuncture was performed for two minutes. The control group simply rested for two minutes.
Both acupuncture groups exhibited improvements, but only in the true acupuncture group did pressure-pain threshold increase significantly. True acupuncture reduced the occurrence of acute muscle soreness by one-half, and delayed-onset muscle soreness by one-third. The authors state “The outcomes of our study may be of notable relevance to athletic healthcare, as acupuncture could have beneficial effects on training capacity, long-term competition performance and the incidence of sports injuries.”
(Acupuncture can be beneficial for exercise-induced muscle soreness: A randomised controlled trial. Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies, January 2020.)