Super Mom Uses Acupuncture to Stay Healthy and Fit

How Acupuncture Improves Fitness

By Minsun Park — December 24, 2013

Like most people who discover the benefits of acupuncture, I saw it as a last resort after seeing numerous doctors and chiropractors for a nagging neck and shoulder injury. A few rounds of acupuncture quickly cured what a year of physical therapy, steroid shots, ibuprofen and muscle relaxants failed to accomplish.

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice of medicine based on the

belief that qi (vital energy) flows through the body along a network of paths,

called meridians. Qi (pronounced “chee”) is believed to affect a person’s

spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical state. Placement of acupuncture needles on these pathways improves energy flow, which in turn, speeds healing.

As a mom of two boys, avid Barry’s Bootcamper and martial arts

practitioner working towards my second degree black belt in taekwondo,

I have a laundry list of aches and pains. After receiving regular acupuncture treatments, I made the happy

discovery that while regular acupuncture was great for pain relief and

healing from acute injuries, its real untapped potential was injury

PREVENTION and other awesome side effects that actually improved

my fitness levels and performance.


My needle guru is Los Angeles-based, Marin L. Kokin, L.Ac., a National

Diplomate in Acupuncture Orthopedics. Over the year, she has poked me

in every place possible to keep my engine revving through 5k’s, mud runs

and martial arts smackdowns. Apparently, I’m in good company in using

acupuncture as a regular part of

a workout recovery regimen.

According to Ms. Kokin, “Acupuncture is a great way to prevent injuries….

anything from intense weight lifting or running the LA Marathon. For many

years I have provided athletes

with a program of acupuncture. The reason being is that acupuncture is an excellent way to improve blood flow to the muscle tissue – this prevents stiffness and pain from occurring.

Whether it’s working on the knees, low back, shoulders and neck, or shins

, it’s amazing how good you feel before, during, and after [the physical

activity]. Because the muscles and joints have received additional

stimulation and circulation, injuries occur less often. “


Although I still headed to the massage therapist for deep tissue work, I

found that my chronic, tight shoulder muscles didn’t respond as well as

they did after acupuncture. The placement of the needles on tight, sore

muscles really facilitated the relaxation and release of those deep knots

and muscle spasms. Especially when electrostimulation was applied to

those needles.

Whenever I feel anything acting up: knees, shin splints, sciatica: I head in

for a tune up to address those aches before they get out of hand and result

in down time from training.


‘Tis always the season for colds, flu and other nasty viruses and there’s

nothing like shared equipment at the gym to spread those cooties around

and sideline you from your workout. Recently, medical studies have been

able to determine that acupuncture enhances the production of natural killer

cells, which is the primary defense against foreign pathogens that make us

sick. It also helps regulate white blood cells that help fight against infections

and allergic reactions.

I noticed a definite decrease in cold sharing despite my living with two

petrie-dishes with legs (a.k.a. children), and my seasonal allergies were

also dramatically improved. Last year, I didn’t catch a single cold even

though my snot-nosed kids were basically using me as a human Kleenex

from November through April.


“Acupuncture also provides a release of serotonin which will give a

sustained amount of positivity, motivation, and a sense of well-being,”

says Kokin.

That’s putting it mildly. I literally feel drugged with happiness after each

session. Since acupuncture stimulates the body’s natural opiates, known

as endorphins and the neurotransmitter serotonin (aka “the happiness

hormone), it’s no wonder that getting needled can give a buzz that rivals

any runner’s high.

Not to mention, my kids and my husband really appreciated a gigglier,

goofier me.


Instead of knocking back espresso shots all day, I felt naturally alert and

well-rested instead of my usual normal baseline of slightly fatigued. Not to

mention, I was sleeping soundly through the night for the first time in years

– something I’d forgotten how to do after becoming a mother and getting

years of disrupted sleep. Apparently, acupuncture is a common treatment

for insomnia in China and there are scientific studies that support this in

database of the National Institute of Health.

All this unbroken sleep helped my body recover quicker after workouts

and helped me feel fresher and stronger at the gym or martial arts studio.

The result: I was able to push harder and stronger and see quicker results. I had a classmate at my taekwondo studio notice my extra height in my jumping kicks and ask,

“Whoa, what have you been doing!?” My cheesy reply: “Ancient Chinese


If you want to find a professional acupuncturist near you,

maintains a database of over 30.000 acupuncturists and you can search

by zip code. Many health insurance plans cover acupuncture as part of

their benefits so you should call your insurer to find out if it’s covered

and get specific details.

You can also get low cost acupuncture at local acupuncture school for a

reduced cost from an acupuncturist-in-training under the supervision of a

teacher. You can find a list of schools at the American Association of

Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine website.

Alternatively, if you don’t mind a group setting where you receive

treatment (fully clothed), in a room with other patients, community

acupuncture is a low cost way to receive acupuncture. To find a clinic

near your, check out the database at the People’s Organization of

Community Acupuncture (POCA).

For more information about Marin L. Kokin and general info about her

practice, Kokin Healing Center, and Traditional Chinese Medicine,

check out her website and read her newsletters at her website.

Minsun Park

Minsun Park is a blogger,

writer anda black belt in

taekwondo who gets her

ass handed to her daily

by her two sons.

She’s written for iVillage,

SheKnows, ePregnancy and is featured in

“The Hot Mom’s Handbook”

by Jessica Denay.

She can also be found

on Facebookand Twitter:


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