How acupuncture works is unclear. According to traditional chinese medicine, acupuncture addresses an imbalance in the qi, or life force that every person has, that flows within the body. The imbalance or disharmony is sometimes attributed to the yin and the yang or meridians as well. There is no scientific research to support these explanations of acupuncture and they are not based on any known mechanism of action supported by science. Scientific explanations may include activation of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, promoting gastric peristalsis and exerting anti-inflammatory effects.
In conclusion, acupuncture is complementary and alternative medicine technique that has several barriers to confidently recommend as a recovery modality. The lack of scientific explanation for how the treatment works continues to create challenges for basic science and clinical research. However, the overall lack of research makes any recommendation limited. There are 3 small studies which are positive and one small study which showed no difference. There is an opportunity for further investigation of acupuncture as a recovery modality and it is generally considered safe in the hands of a trained acupuncturist. However, at this time it can not be recommended with confidence as a method to help athletes recovery from exercise or sport.
In conclusion, ultrasound has little evidence to support its utility as a recovery modality. All of the studies evaluating symptoms in athletes showed no benefit. There are two studies which show some effect on lactate clearance and one on swelling and muscle damage, but the significance of this to the recovering athlete is unclear. Based on the available evidence, ultrasound can not be endorsed with confidence as a recovery modality.
In conclusion, the available data is limited and what is available suffers from methodological flaws. The variability between applications of electrical stimulation also makes interpretation and extrapolation challenging. Nearly all studies, including two systematic reviews found no benefit for performance and limited benefit for DOMS. It may promote lactate clearance, but the clinical significance is not clear. Several studies even suggest stim was equivocal or inferior to active recovery. The research is not compelling to support the use of electrical stem as a recovery modality.
How HBOT works is based of animal models. Theoretically, administration of 100% oxygen at pressures above atmosphere should reduce tissue hypoxia and enhance oxygen delivery to tissues. This can limit edema, cytokine activity, reduce oxidative and free radical damage and promote accelerated healing. HBOT does have some risk associated with use including barotrauma to ears, sinuses and lungs, claustrophobia and oxygen poisoning.
In conclusion, hyperbaric oxygen therapy as a recovery modality does not appear to have any beneficial effects. When considering the side effects of the hyperbaric chamber and of hyperoxia, HBOT as a recovery modality likely does more harm than good. Furthermore, one study suggested it attenuated blood flow. It is worth noting that some animal models have shown benefit at the cellular level, but this has not translated into human studies. At this time, HBOT should be avoided as a recovery modality for the above mentioned reasons.
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