The Acupuncture Advantage

 In Sports Performance Training

An acupuncturist is making a difference for the Boise State University football team by helping to heal and prevent injuries.

When you think of keeping football players healthy, acupuncture might not be the first intervention that comes to mind. But at Boise State University, acupuncture treatments have been a key ingredient in healing injuries, relieving pain, and improving movement for the past five years.

According to a recent article in the Idaho Statesman, Dana Logan, AcT, has been providing acupuncture to Boise State football players since 2013, when then Head Coach Chris Petersen needed a way to get a player with a hamstring injury healthy for the season opener. The team’s physician suggested acupuncture, and Petersen agreed—and watched the treatment himself.

“No pressure or anything there,” Logan said. “They were flying out the next day, and I thought, ‘If this doesn’t work, acupuncture isn’t happening again.’ I had that session to make an impression, and it obviously worked.”

According to Boise State players, it’s still working.

“It’s a different feeling, the first time you don’t know what the sensation is, your muscles are twitching and all that,” said Kekaula Kaniho, a sophomore defensive back. “After the first time, I was like, ‘I don’t know if I want to do this again.’ Game day, I felt really good, and was like, ‘Yeah, I’m going back next week.’”

When Petersen left, new Head Coach Bryan Harsin decided to continue using acupuncture as part of the team’s strategy. Kaniho isn’t the only player who has come to believe in Logan’s work—some former Boise State players who have gone on to the NFL have continued to ask her to treat them, flying her to their locations.

Logan currently sees about 15 Broncos football players a week for acupuncture. Some are sent by the team’s sports medicine staff, and others refer themselves.

She says some players are reluctant, but once they feel the results, they usually overcome their fear. Players who do brave the needles sometimes even get a memento from Logan—a bracelet that reads “Acupuncture Tough.”

“Some have fainted, but mostly because they were nervous,” Logan explained. “As they become more and more comfortable and feel the benefit, they usually want more.”

At first, Logan was mostly seeing players with injuries, but her focus has expanded to helping with range of motion and movement, and she now bases her approach on the Functional Movement Screen (FMS), which she uses to assess players’ gait, stability, and balance. Using the FMS, she is able to pinpoint weak areas and intervene to help prevent injuries before they occur.

Over time, Logan has also expanded her knowledge base to better serve the Broncos, taking classes in sports medicine and anatomy and learning about how acupuncture can be used to assist with concussion recovery. She has added new techniques, like moxibustion (a Chinese therapy used to improve circulation) and “battlefield acupuncture,” in which a needle is left in the ear to fight pain and improve reflexes.

“It fills a niche that isn’t being answered by any therapy out there,” Logan said. “Acupuncture in football is going to become more and more mainstream. I think it’s awesome Boise State is ahead of it and has given it a chance.”

 


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