One of the best parts about the Olympics is going home, plopping down on the couch, and cheering on our favorite athletes as they go for the bronze, silver and gold. Yet beyond the hard work and determination it takes to get these fierce competitors to the podium, something we tend to overlook are the methods and means required to keep their bodies in peak condition from the time the torch is lit to the moment they pack up and head on home to their respective countries.
Did you know that acupuncture is a popular modality for injury rehabilitation, pain prevention and overall physical maintenance at the 2012 London Olympics? Check out which of your favorite athletes have incorporated acupuncture into their training programs and, even cooler, who's actually licensed to practice the ancient healing art.
McKayla Maroney, USA, Gymnastics
Getting Back on the Vault
Beloved gymnast McKayla Maroney broke her toe several times leading up to the big event. During Olympic training, she split the bone even further. Driven to perform, the Long Beach, Calif. native sought the help of acupuncture, electronic stimulation and lots of icing.
Jeremy Scott, USA, Pole Vaulter
No Pain, No Problem
Jeremy credits the integration of acupuncture into his wellness and maintenance routine for his ability to flourish at the Olympic trials. He will continue to utilize the practice to aid in the reduction of knee pain during competition.
Kim Yeon-koung, South Korea, Women's Volleyball
Accelerated Recovery Times
"I have had lots of physical therapy, which takes a long time to affect a cure, but Oriental therapy works faster. My pain halved after a day," Kim said of her recovery program.
Nicole Rasor, USA, Archery Team
Mixing Business with Pleasure
What's more notable than receiving acupuncture at the Olympics? Being an acupuncturist! Nicole Rasor, who kicked off her Olympic career on the 1984 diving team, re-joined the Americans in 2011 and 2012, this time as an archer. When she's not training, Nicole is a licensed acupuncturist in Tucson, Ariz.
Amy Acuff, USA, High Jumper
Prevention and Maintenance
Another licensed acupuncturist, Amy maintains an acupuncture practice in Austin, Texas. She often credits the ancient Eastern modality for her "unusual longevity" in high jumping, which is otherwise considered an injury-prone sport.
Park Jung-geu, South Korea, Men's Handball
Fewer Treatments Required
"I can tell that I am getting better after being treated about three times, while physical therapy requires long, consistent treatment," says the handball master of acupuncture treatments.