Interview with Amy Acuff, Olympic athlete and acupuncturist
This is the first installment of our Olympics Series on Qi. Stay tuned for more blog posts!
What has acupuncture in common with the London 2012 Olympic Games, you might ask? Answer: A lot! Never before has acupuncture played such an important part in an Olympic athlete’s health and wellness regimen. According to HealthCMI, many Team USA athletes include acupuncture and other alternative therapies in their treatment plan to prevent injuries and to help recover and relax after competing.
One of these Olympic athletes is high jumper Amy Acuff. Participating in her fifth(!) Olympics, Acuff attributes some of her long-term success in the sport of high jump to acupuncture. Being a licensed acupuncturist in Austin, Texas, Acuff knows first-hand how powerful acupuncture can be when it comes to successful prevention and recovery from injuries – especially in an injury-prone sport such as high jump.
At age 36, the mother of a 2-year old daughter, is entering the Olympics as a member of the USA Track and Field team for the fifth time, and Acuff is a force to reckon with! After qualifying at the Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon, with impressive form, she’s ready to compete and aim for gold in London. Before heading to London, Acuff made time to share with Qi how acupuncture has helped her stay in top form over the years.
How has acupuncture helped you consistently compete at such a high level?
I have been able to manage not just injuries and sore or tight areas, but also regulate my nervous system through acupuncture.
Many times in Europe I would be competing at 8pm, then need to sleep and travel the next day to another competition. When you are balanced you are able to switch gears more efficiently and recover more quickly.
Acupuncture can really help combat the effects of over-training. I also use it for emotional support and immune system benefits, as it can be easy to pick up illness when traveling so frequently.
What modalities in addition to acupuncture do you use for treating and preventing injuries?
I’ve been really good about taking care of my body. The use of alternative therapies such as acupuncture, active release therapy, Pilates, and Rolfing has been instrumental. I don’t think I would be where I am without all of these modalities.
How does being an elite athlete influence your approach to practicing acupuncture?
I tend to have a very functional view of the body. Being an athlete has probably made me relate better to the way that people use their bodies in motion.
You were pre-med as an undergrad. What inspired you to study acupuncture opposed to continuing your biomedical education?
I became curious about acupuncture after receiving some very successful treatment in college. I later had the opportunity to pursue my studies in traditional Chinese medicine while still competing, which helped me immensely as an athlete.
Watch Amy Acuff compete at the London Olympics on August 9 (high jump qualification) and August 11 (high jump final). Wish her luck!
Photos courtesy of Amy Acuff
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