Brian Cashman, Meet Dee Dee Trotter: How Acupuncture Can Transform the Yankees’ Game

Check out this fascinating article by Zheng Gu Tui Na practitioner and acupuncturist, Phil Veneziano:

It’s time for all sports teams to have an acupuncturist on staff.

I got really excited when I read that Dee Dee Trotter, 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner in the 400 meter, invited her acupuncturist to join her in London. She was set to compete in the biggest sporting competition in the world, and she wanted him right by her side. Pole-vaulter Jeremy Scott tweets: “Acupuncture has made me a better athlete!” South Korean handball player Park Jung-geu is an acu-fan. And wait, who am I forgetting? Oh yeah, high-jumper Amy Acuff, who is on her 5th visit to the Olympics and practices acupuncture in Austin, Texas!

Of course, I’ve known for years there’s a laundry list of premier athletes who use acupuncture and other Chinese Medicine techniques to their advantage. And the payoffs have been enormous.

So it boggles my mind. Why aren’t all sports teams employing a full-time Chinese Medicine practitioner?

The number of professional and amateur athletes benefiting from Chinese Medicine is growing every day. It’s not news anymore. It’s not even considered a fringe treatment any longer amongst athletes. Football greats Jerry Rice, Steve Young, Warren Moon, and future Hall of Fame pitcher David Cone utilized acupuncture during their incredible careers, along with golfer Fred Couples and 5-time Grand Slam singles tennis champion Martina Hingis. It’s even helped basketball legends Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade manage injuries on the court.

Sitting behind first base at a recent New York Yankees game, I began to wonder: Why in the world haven’t the Yanks hired a TCM practitioner to help manage the inevitable injuries that occur during the season? The L.A. Dodgers and San Francisco Giants have had one in their clubhouse for years. Why didn’t the Yankees offering recently rehabbed superstar third baseman Alex Rodriguez treatment for his broken hand? How about Mariano Rivera, the best closer ever, and his achilles tendon rehab? And Andy Pettite, the winningest pitcher in postseason history, for his ankle injury? Isn’t there room on the trainer’s table for TCM’s proven excellence with musculosketal issues? It’s not as if it would interfere with whatever trainer Steve Donahue is prescribing for rehabilitation. I’m talking collaboration.

Having worked on the orthopedic floor in a major NYC hospital for years, as well as within my own practice, I’ve seen first hand how effective combining Western and Eastern treatments can be during the recovery and rehabilitation process. I’ve witnessed athletes’ post-surgical pain scores reduce significantly with acupuncture therapies by increasing blood flow to the injured area. Acupuncture also helps mitigate inflammation and restore structure to damaged tissue, producing the ultimate objective: a return to self-care in a more balanced manner. In short, adding an acupuncturist to a team’s medical staff will enhance players’ ability to manage the extreme demands of a full season.

I’m sure the Yankees have vetted acupuncture. Former Bombers pitcher AJ Burnett had a clause written in his contract requiring a personal acupuncturist while he was there. Burnett had his ups and downs in the Big Apple, but he did help the Yanks win their first World Series title in 12 years. Since he was traded, he’s become a clubhouse leader and the first 15-game winner the Pittsburgh Pirates have had in 13 years, all without the consistent injury problems he’d experienced in the beginning of his career, pre-acupuncture. AJ swears by it!

Why not treat A-Rod too, and make sure his newly healed hand stays healed. And while we’re at it, maybe increase range of motion for his previously rehabbed hip, knee and thumb? How about providing emotional support for him—he had to have been feeling a huge amount of stress and pressure being paid millions by the Yanks while not being able to help his team in their quest for a 28th World Championship! Chinese medicine is great with this sort of “invisible stress.”

Let’s bottom-line it: A-Rod will get paid roughly $29 million this year from the Yankees. At approximately $179,012 a game and $1,000,000 plus a week, if I were the Yankees, I’d at least have wanted the opportunity to play A-Rod during the last week in August, when the Yankees almost tumbled out of first place. Isn’t that 6-7 game differential—most times the difference between winning and losing your division, if not the World Series—not at least worth a try? With the mere threat of him in the line-up, A-Rod on the bench is like Amazon running their business with a dial-up connection!

Who has general manager Brian Cashman’s number? Somebody give him a ring, and see if he’s open to listening. Don’t mention AJ Burnett though—with the pitching staff’s current performance, he may not be too happy to hear that name.

Phil Veneziano, M.S. L.Ac. is a nationally board-certified, New York State–Licensed Acupuncturist, Certified Detox specialist, Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner and co-founder of Seven Point Wellness

1 comment

  • Nina Grenningloh January 22, 2013

    Great article, Phil! Thanks for making the case for more Oriental medicine practitioners to be on staff with professional sport teams. Just last week we posted on Qi why Kobe Bryant needs acupuncture – and even though it was written with a wink, we’re serious about advocating for more acupuncturists and Oriental medicine practitioners in professional sports. So thanks for pointing out the benefits of a regular Oriental medicine regimen!
    See our blog post here:


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