The Feasibility and Effects of Acupuncture on Muscle Soreness and Sense of Well-being in an Adolescent Football Population

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ObjectiveThe aims of the study were to assess the feasibility of performing acupuncture on multiple adolescent athletes in a warm weather, high-intensity training environment and to measure perceived effects of acupuncture on delayed-onset muscle soreness and sense of well-being.DesignThis is a prospective feasibility study (registered clinical trial NCT03478800). Forty-two healthy male participants, aged 13–18 yrs, were involved in at least 1 of 5 treatment days for a total of 147 individual treatment sessions. Fifteen-minute treatments of traditional needle acupuncture were administered at the football field. Time, cost, adverse effects, and participant/provider ratio were observed. Effect on delayed-onset muscle soreness and sense of well-being were measured via pretreatment and posttreatment visual analog scale (0–10) rating analyses.ResultsThe results are as follows: time required by research staff on treatment days, 75 mins; total cost, US $700; temperature range, 21°C–28°C; and largest participant to acupuncturist ratio, 7–10:1. No major adverse effects occurred; 55% reported minimal adverse effects, such as mild focal numbness or tingling. Overall pretreatment to posttreatment effect on delayed-onset muscle soreness (average over 5 days) demonstrated significantly improved posttreatment scores (pre 4.6 ± 2.0; post 2.9 ± 2.2, P < 0.001). There was no significant effect on sense of well-being (P = 0.12).ConclusionsEffectively providing acupuncture to multiple adolescent football players in their training environment is feasible with appropriate staff and resources. Despite mild adverse effects, treatment was well tolerated. This study provides guidance on acupuncture delivery to other athletes in their training environments.

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