The Coachella Valley is well known for being a resort destination where individuals enjoy fine dining, shopping and poolside relaxation. But the Coachella Valley also offers a more physical side. We have dozens of beautiful hiking trails, world-class golf courses, a famous international tennis tournament, professional polo, bike events, national pickleball tournaments, our new professional minor league hockey team and the skating Iceplex open to all. 

Both amateur and professional athletes often work tremendously hard and push their bodies to their limit. One of the biggest hurdles to overcome is the exercise-induced onset of muscle soreness. If you’ve experienced it, you know that the soreness can significantly hinder workouts and event day performance. Therefore, recovery is a top priority. 

There are a variety of modalities athletes can use to recover: ice baths, massage therapy and a good night’s sleep are more commonly known, but another, lesser known recovery tool is acupuncture.

Fascinating research has occurred, studying the effects of acupuncture for exercise recuperation. A meta-analysis, published by the National Institutes of Health, measured four aspects of recovery: muscle soreness rating, pressure pain threshold, serum level of creatine kinase (CK) and macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF), a cytokine involved in the regulation of inflammatory responses. They were measured at three different time points: 24-, 48- and 72-hours after exercise. At the three different time intervals, the acupuncture group improved in three of four categories compared to the non-acupuncture subjects.  

Muscle soreness ratings identified the perception of soreness after an intensive workout. Acupuncture patients felt a small positive response at the 48-hour mark, but significantly lower soreness at the 72-hour.

When the body goes through intense stimuli, inflammatory markers (CK and MIF) can rise. For these measurements, acupuncture groups demonstrated reduced inflammatory marker levels in both CK and MIF at all three measured times, meaning they had overall less inflammation than the non-acupuncture group.  

The recovery measurement that did not demonstrate positive benefits with acupuncture was the pressure pain threshold – the amount of pressure over an area a person can withstand before the pressure stimuli become painful. At each time interval, there was no difference between those receiving acupuncture and those that did not. In conclusion, acupuncture does not help with how much pain an athlete can withstand.

However, these results are promising. Any athlete, amateur or professional who is looking to improve their performance might want to consider adding acupuncture to their recovery routine. Acupuncture can lower soreness and inflammation in the body after a physically demanding event and is a safe and easy method in maximizing an athlete’s full prowess towards accomplishing their goal.   

Agustin Orozco is a licensed acupuncturist and certified massage therapist with AcQpoint Wellness Center in Palm Desert. He can be reached at (760) 345.2200 or

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