Chinese Medical Journal 2009;122(13):1587-1590 1587Brief reportEffect of auricular acupuncture on oxygen consumptionof boxing athletesLIN Zen-Pin, WANG Chung-Yuan, JANG Tsong-Rong, MA Tso-chiang, CHIA Fan, LIN Jaung-Geng, HSU Jen-Jengand HO Tsung-JungKeywords: auricular acupuncture; oxygen consumption; boxing athletesB oxing is an official sport at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the fast development ofworld-class high strength training and sport science has dysfunction by stimulation of definite points on the ear.6 The resultant amelioration of pain and illness is believed to be through the reticular formation and the sympatheticmade a significant impact on scientific training. Boxing and parasympathetic nervous systems.7 Current clinicalneeds high cardio-respiratory function, speed, muscle and basic research has proved the efficacy of earstrength, and anaerobic and intensive physical demands acupuncture mostly in the treatment of acute or chronicincluding weight control covering the grading of athlete′s pain8-12 and anxiety-related disorders.13-15 Therefore, earbody weight and balancing physical ability and health. acupuncture is a technique similar to reflexology, and isSport training is important even for talented athletes. speculated that it works because groups of pluripotentWeight cycling is a term used to describe rapid weight cells contain information from the whole organism andloss following self food limitation and/or dehydration. create regional organization centers representing differentBoth gradual (seasonal) and rapid (weekly) weight parts of the body, through the recruitment of more cortexreduction cycles are used by athletes, and have been cells dedicated to specific areas of the body.6 Theinvestigated for potential effects on nutrition and resultant amelioration of pain and illness is believed to beperformance.1 These cycles are used in such sports as due to the reticular formation and the sympathetic andwrestling, judo, rowing, and boxing in order to make a parasympathetic nervous systems.7 In the contemporaryweight category. Like the other of these sports, boxing athletic world, nations strive to develop a competitiveneeds repeated efforts and high-intensity physical advantage in sports using various scientific methods tostrength. Only when the cardio-respiratory function, improve the performance of athletes. Designing methodsenergy expenditure and blood lactate system of athletes to help athletes to outperform others and win the goldare well controlled can they show their potential and medals in international competitions is the goal for manymaintain high performance.2 Overtraining syndrome, a researchers. From the scientific perspective, variousneuroendocrine disorder, is characterized by poor elements including muscular strength, speed, power,performance in competition, inability to maintain training muscular and cardiopulmonary endurance, flexibility,loads, persistent fatigue, reduced catecholamine excretion, agility, balance and coordination were combined tofrequent illness, disturbed sleep and alterations in mood constitute athletic ability. Among these elements,state.3 Sport training is important even for talented cardiopulmonary endurance is the absolute element forathletes. Peaking or the ability of an athlete to have a athletes in all types of sports. VO2max as a fundamentalpeak performance during the tough competition or games DOI: 10.3760/cma.j.issn.0366-6999.2009.13.022of the year is also related to strength training. The Department of Holistic Wellness, MingDao University, Taiwan,determination of physiological variables such as the China (Lin ZP, Chia F and Hsu JJ)anaerobic threshold (AT) and maximal oxygen uptake Athletics Department & Graduate School, National Taiwan Sport(VO2max) through incremental exercise testing and the University (Taichung), Taiwan, China (Wang CY and Jang TR)relevance of these variables to endurance performance is Department of Public Health, China Medical University, Taiwan, China (Ma TC)a major requirement for coaches and athletes.4 To Graduate Institute of Chinese Medical Science, China Medicalmaintain good performance throughout the competitive University, Taiwan, China (Lin JG)phase, this physiological base must be maintained.5 School of Chinese Medicine, College of Chinese Medicine, ChinaBompa5 investigated boxing and martial arts, and found Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan, China (Ho TJ)that a quick and powerful start of an offensive skill Chinese Medicine Department, China Medical University Beigang Hospital, Taiwan, China (Ho TJ)prevents an opponent from using an effective action. The Chia-Yi Hospital, Department of Health, Executive Yuan, Taiwan,elastic, reactive component of muscle is of vital China (Ho TJ)importance for delivering quick action and powerful LIN Zen-Pin, WANG Chung-Yuan and JANG Tsong-Rongstarts. contributed equally to this work as co-first author. Correspondence to: Prof. HO Tsung-Jung, School of Chinese Medicine, College of Chinese Medicine, China MedicalHowever, auricular acupuncture is a diagnostic and University, 91 Hsueh-Shih Rd., Taichung 404, Taiwan, China (Tel:treatment system based on normalizing the body′s 886-4-22053366 ext 3120. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
1588 Chin Med J 2009;122(13):1587-1590indicator for evaluating cardiovascular endurance is oneof the critical elements for succeeding in endurance sports.Auricular stimulation also known as ear acupuncture is aninternationally recognized medical method.16 Earacupuncture was first proposed in 1957 by Nogier, whotheorized that acupuncture points on the ear are shapedlike an inverted embryo. In 1986, ZHANG Ying-qingdescribed the bio-holographic theory with an earacupuncture chart and the effects of ear acupuncture.These theories present how ear acupuncture enhancessporting abilities by lowering the heart rates of athletes atrest, decreasing oxygen intake, and expediting excretionof post-exercise blood lactic acids. The present studyaimed to investigate the effects of auricular acupunctureand to develop effective methods to help boxing athletesrecover quickly from major competition events. METHODS Figure 1. The distribution of simulative auricular acupoints.SubjectsThirty male boxing athletes (age (19.8±1.1) years, height(172.0±2.5) cm, and weight (66.3±3.2) kg) from theNational Taiwan Sport University (Taichung, China) wereselected to participate in the study. Each subjectunderwent a treadmill training program for complete Figure 2. Experiment process flowchart for AS group, PC6exhaustion at a starting speed of 15 m/h, followed by an group and control group.increment of 5 m/h every 2 minutes. equipments. To prevent injury during the experiment, theThese athletes were randomly assigned to three groups: subjects got prepared for sufficient warm-up beforeauricular stimulation group (AS group, n=10), exercise. In the second phase, body temperature of theacupuncture Neiguan group (PC6 group, n=10) and subjects was measured after use of auricular stimulationcontrol group (n=10). Magnetic stud patches were used to patches and 3M tape for detecting the body temperaturestimulate the ear acupuncture points in the AS group for reaction during the experiment. With the graded jogging30 minutes prior to exercise, which was continued until program proposed by Jackson and Pollock in 1978,17 the treadmill was set at a constant speed, and a slope programexhaustion determined by the subjects. 3M tape was used was set to raise the treadmill by a 2.5% grade every twoon the auricular points without stimulation in the control minutes. Each of the participants was asked to providegroup. feedback in accordance with the self-awareness chart during the last 5 seconds of each stage. Each participantSettings and process of experiment was required to wear a mask and a breathing collector. AllThis study was conducted in the physical laboratory of participants warmed up their muscles on the treadmill tillthe National Taiwan College of Physical Education. The the RQ indicator was 0.7–0.8 on the Vmax29c before theresearch equipments included a Quinton ST65 Med track start of the experiment. The time lag was 24 hourstreadmill; a Vmax29c cardiopulmonary measuring device; between each experiment (an experiment includingauricular needles; 3M tape, and an electronic body pre-experiment and post-experiment graded exercise tests)thermometer. The study included two phases. In the first as the time was passed to reduce the cross-over effects. Itphase the experiment was conducted without laboratory potentially provided a better comparison for the effects ofcontrol. Magnetic stud patches were used to stimulate stimulation.such acupuncture points as Shen-men, heart, lung, liver,Triple warmer, adrenal cortex and endocrine on both ears Statistical analysisin the AS group (Figure 1). In the second phase, thirty SPSS 12.0 for Windows was used for data analysis. First,male boxing athletes were randomly assigned to three a descriptive analysis was made of the age, height andgroups: AS group, PC6 group, and control group (Figure weight of the participants. One-way analysis of variance2). (ANOVA) and Schfee′ way method were repeated to analyze the age, height, weight, VO2max, body3M tape was stuck on the same acupoints on both ears of temperature, VEmax, TV and RR before and after thethe subjects of the control group without stimulation for experiment to determine if there are statistically30 minutes prior to the exercise. The subjects were fully significant differences in the measurements. Theinformed of the experimental procedures and the use of statistical significance was set at P <0.05.
Chinese Medical Journal 2009;122(13):1587-1590 1589 RESULTS showed that VO2max was only significantly different between the pre-experiment and post-experimentThe VO2max of the AS group was significantly higher than measurements in the AS group, but not in the controlthat of the control and acupuncture PC6 groups (Table) group. Many researchers, however, used VO2max as anrespectively. However, the VE2max, TV, RR, and body important indicator for evaluating aerobic ability andtemperature in both the acupuncture PC6 and control sport performance.19-22 From the present study wegroups were not significantly different. conclude that auricular acupuncture stimulation could potentially enhance the aerobic ability of athletes while Table. Difference of cardiopulmonary endurance for AS group, improving sport performance. acupuncture PC6 group and control group (n=30)Variables AS group Acupuncture PC6 Control group Acupuncture stimulation is an internationally recognized group alternative therapy for substantial improvement of -1 -1 *†VO2max (ml · kg · min ) 58.86±1.03 53.45±1.21 53.38±0.93 cardiopulmonary function.23,24 In this study, auricularVEmax (L/min) 141.70±14.59 135.40±14.73 136.57±13.89TV (L) 2.28±2.28 2.24±0.31 2.29±0.32 stimulation enhanced the physical capabilities of athletesRR 53.50±10.91 58.10±6.57 56.80±6.72 including the improvement of indicators of aerobicBody temperature (°C) 36.94±0.84 36.90±1.05 36.77±0.74 function such as VO2max and VEmax. Thus we suggest that* P <0.05 when compared with control group; †P <0.05 when compared with auricular stimulation could improve the performanceacupuncture PC6 group. results of athletes who are devoted to marathons, 400 meter sprints, and 800 meter long distance runs.Obviously, auricular acupuncture could significantly Furthermore, significant differences were observed in theenhance the recovery after exercise oxygen consumption. present study in body temperatures of athletes before andAuricular acupuncture at the Shen-men point, heart point, after auricular stimulation. Previously the rising bodylung point, liver point, Triple warmer, adrenal cortex and temperature was reported to increase enzyme activities,endocrine helped improve the ability of recovery of elite muscular blood volume, oxygen intake and the timeboxing athletes. Understanding the effects of auricular between contraction and relaxation of muscles to enhanceacupuncture on the recovery and profile of boxing the performance and avoid injuries.26,27 The acupointsathletes is important because it will help coaches in Neiguan (PC6) and Zusanli (ST36) can decrease thetraining and athletes in recovery. resting heart rate and carbon dioxide production.28 In the present study, the levels of HRmax, VO2max and blood DISCUSSION lactic acid were significantly lower in the acupuncture group (stimulating acupoints PC6 and ST36) than inThere are few studies on auricular acupuncture involving the sham and normal groups 30 minutes after exercise.VO2max changes in boxing athletes. But during The level of blood lactic acid of the acupuncture groupcompetition phases it is important to ensure a peak was also significantly lower than that of the other twoperformance and a quick recovery for athletes. The groups 60 minutes after exercise. These results have beenfinding can be used to improve the sport performance of implemented in developing effective acupunctureathletes. The determination of physiological variables schemes to enhance the recovery ability of basketballsuch as AT and VO2max shown by incremental exercise athletes.29 Our study also demonstrated that in addition totesting and relevance of these variables to endurance improve the function of elements necessary for athleticperformance is thought to be advisable for both athletes performance, stimulation at auricular acupoints beforeand coaches.4 Bompa5 found that a quick and powerful exercise also decreases the warm-up time necessary forstart of an offensive skill prevents an opponent from an athletes so as to prevent any injuries.effective action. The elastic, reactive component ofmuscle is of vital importance for delivering a quick action Limitations of this study included: (1) a relatively smalland a powerful start. group of athletes were enrolled because the experiment required the participants to exercise on the treadmillHowever, auricular acupuncture is a diagnostic and training machine till exhaustion; (2) the participants weretreatment system based on normalizing the bodys primary competitive athletes who desired to improve theirdysfunction through stimulation of definite points on the competition performance through auricular stimulation;ear, and its reflex system does not correlate with modern and (3) the lifestyle of participants could potentiallyknowledge of anatomy and physiology. Auricular influence athletic performance. The lifestyles of athletesacupuncture stimulation can significantly improve need to be closely monitored to decrease externaloxygen intake in athletes. The VO2max per minute is variations that could affect the result of the study.higher in athletes with auricular acupuncture stimulationthan in those without the stimulation. Similar results were Auricular stimulation has significant effects on thefound by Sa and Lin.18 In their research, six males from maximal oxygen intake (VO2max). Understanding thesephysical education were given stimulation from auricular effects during competition would also help to improve theacupuncture patches on points of the lung, kidney, spleen, aerobic capabilities and performance results of athletes inTriple warmer, adrenal cortex and endocrine, attempting addition to cardiopulmonary function. The stimulation isto improve VO2max during aggressive exercise. The results recommended to use appropriately in the three phases of
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