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Five-Time Olympian Amy Acuff Jumps for Acupuncture In More Ways Than One

By Sara Calabro

Amy Acuff, a standout high jumper who is gearing up to participate in her fifth Olympics, is also an acupuncturist. She became interested in helping others with acupuncture after her own treatments helped keep her healthy while competing in such an injury-prone event.

At 36—and just two years after giving birth to her daughter—Acuff is at the top of her game. She is being considered a viable competitor for gold in London after an impressive performance at the Track & Field Olympic Trials last month.

Acuff balances motherhood, Olympic training and her acupuncture practice in Austin, TX. Before heading to London, she made time for a quick chat with AcuTake.

AcuTake: How has acupuncture helped you consistently compete at such a high level?

Amy Acuff: 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 overtraining. 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.

Acuff’s events at the 2012 Olympics are taking place August 9-11. Wish her luck!

Photos courtesy of Amy Acuff

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Comments

Asatar Bair | University of the Heart
Reply

Thanks for this article! Very inspiring. As an older athlete, I always appreciate hearing about those who find a way to compete at the Olympic level at an age when most athletes have left competition behind.

Nadia Sempels
Reply

As an ex-highjumper (never olympic level, though) and an acupuncturist, this is such a great story to read! I wish Amy all the best, but being Belgian, I am also rooting for Tia Hellebaut. I live in London, but unfortunately didn’t manage to get tickets for the athletics – but I will be glued to the screens!

Why All Athletes Should Use Acupuncture | AcuTake
Reply

[...] quarterback Matt Hasselbeck does it. So does hockey superstar Jaromir Jagr. Olympic high-jumper Amy Acuff likes it so much that she learned how to practice it herself. New York City Ballet dancers swear by [...]

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