Even though we often tell ourselves that nerves and anxiety prior to a performance, are perfectly normal sometimes feeling anxious can have a detrimental effect. Whether it’s in a business or leisure setting, if we’re too overwhelmed then it can set us back from achieving our goals. However, a new study seeking to combat anxiety experienced by competitive athletes proves acupuncture can be an effective form of treatment.
As part of a clinical trial conducted by researchers at Tehran University of Medical Sciences, 45 adolescent athletes were split into three groups: acupuncture, sham acupuncture and wait-list control. Each participant completed an anxiety questionnaire and had their heart rates monitored before and after receiving treatment.
The results show that acupuncture has a significant effect on a person’s cognitive and somatic anxiety. Did you know that the body experiences two different types? Cognitive refers to the processes that happen in a person’s brain, from worry or stress, that manifest in a mental capacity. Somatic anxiety is more akin to the “butterflies in the tummy” feeling. Together they are termed ‘competitive anxiety’ and this definition is usually applied to athletes.
This is why the results of this study are encouraging, as researchers found that the administration of acupuncture before competition “was associated with decreased levels of both components of competitive anxiety (somatic and cognitive).” They conclude that “acupuncture is effective in modifying the physiological changes associated with skin conductance and heart rate and helps adolescents to decrease their anxiety prior to competition.”
While this particular trial outlines the effectiveness of acupuncture in lowering the anxiety of adolescents in high-pressure situations, it’s an indicator of how acupuncture can be applied to other lifestyles where performance anxiety is prevalent. More studies will need to be carried out in order to evaluate how this line of treatment can be adapted.
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