Why Do Elite Athletes Use Acupuncture?

By Nikki Vanecek, L.Ac., M.Ac.O.M. /

Why Do Elite Athletes Use Acupuncture?

The use of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine in the health care routines for professional athletes is becoming increasingly more common.  I know this firsthand, as I am the owner of EastWest Acupuncture and am the Acupuncturist for the Minnesota Twins baseball team.

I have treated patients for many different health concerns, but you might be surprised by what the Twins players typically come to see me for.

A Whole-Body Approach to Wellness

When I first met with the Twins Baseball Team, I was very clear that my goal in treating the players would be to support them from a whole-body health aspect using the methods of Traditional Chinese Medicine. This means not only helping with pain and recovery from injuries, but also decreasing the impact of stress and their rigorous schedule, supporting healthy sleep, and supporting recovery and overall health to enhance their performance.

Image Source: Star Tribune
The Twins have an incredible medical team. Each team member is so knowledgeable in their field of medicine, as well as their understanding of each players' needs. They are also great to work side-by-side with, and incredibly focused on providing the players with the best possible care, referring to each other when they recognize the benefit other medical modalities may have.
Traditional Chinese Medicine at the Ballpark

I start my day off by arriving at the Target Field facility feeling grateful. I love my job! Walking into the training room being greeted with smiles, fist bumps, and “Hey! How is it going?!” is such an incredible feeling. The Twins Organization is kind and very inviting. My first couple of times that I was going there to work with the baseball players, I was nervous (of course) and now I feel like part of a big, very tall family.

The Twins trainers will tell me who they are sending to me and what they have been working on with the players. I will address those concerns from a Chinese Medical standpoint, and chat with the players about any other areas where they may need support, such as sleep, digestion, stress management, and so much more!

The medical team has done a great job at educating the players on how important whole-body health is. Their sleep is important for proper recovery and decreasing the impact of stress is important for healing and performance. This means addressing all the ways that stress can impact the body, whether that is headaches, insomnia, muscle tension, digestive issues, emotional health, a weakened immune system, etc.

The more I work with the medical team and players, the more impressed I am with how well they all support each other to decrease stress and promote prevention of other health conditions that could impact their performance.

I am so grateful, and I love being a part of the Minnesota Twins team. I’m proud to contribute to the common goal of whole-body health for the players, injury-prevention, improved recovery, lasting results, and to continuing to WIN games!

Go Twins!!

Nikki Vanacek, L.Ac., M.Ac.O.M., is the owner of EastWest Acupuncture and Professional Sports Acupuncture. She is paving the way for the collaboration of acupuncturists and Chinese medicine in modern medical health care. Nikki provides exceptional care to her clinical patients and is the Acupuncturist for the Minnesota Twins.

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