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Stretched out on a massage table in his Long Island City condominium, Jets fullback Tony Richardson closed his eyes. Over the next hour, he groaned and grimaced and eventually fell asleep, as Lisa Ripi, the traveling N.F.L. acupuncturist, went to work.

Ripi poked and prodded Richardson on a recent Tuesday, using blue and pink needles, until his body resembled a road map marked with 120 destinations. “SportsCenter” provided mood music. Afterward, Richardson said his soreness had mostly vanished.

“They always tell me I’m their little secret,” Ripi said. “I feel like the little mouse who takes the thorns out of their feet.”

Professional football players partake in a violent game, and as the season progresses, they spend more time in training rooms than on practice fields. They visit chiropractors and massage therapists, practice yoga, undergo electronic stimulation and nap in hyperbaric chambers.

Yet relatively few receive acupuncture, which brings smiles to the faces of Ripi’s clients. They remain fiercely territorial. They fight over Fridays because it is closest to their games. They accuse one another of hogging, or trying to steal her.

All swear by Ripi’s technique, which she described as closer to Japanese-style acupuncture than to traditional Chinese methods. She focuses less on established points and more on sore areas, using needles to increase blood flow, relaxing muscles tightened in the weight room.

Players say her sessions are their most important treatment. They feel more loose, more flexible. Richardson finds acupuncture uncomfortable but said it made an immediate 10 percent difference. For sculptured bodies tuned like racecars, 10 percent constitutes a significant improvement.

As Pittsburgh linebacker James Farrior said: “I’m not the same if I don’t have it. It’s like getting the game plan. You can’t go into the week without either one.”

Ripi, 46, travels at least 20 days each month during the season, treating 40 players on five teams (the Ripi Division: Jets, Giants, SteelersBengals and Dolphins). She flies to Miami on Sunday, Pittsburgh on Monday, New York on Tuesday, Cincinnati on Wednesday, back to Pittsburgh on Thursday and back to New York on Friday. She works 96 hours a week and naps mostly on airplanes. By Friday, even her assistant sends “hate texts,” Ripi said.

In 13 years of working with N.F.L. players, Ripi said proudly, she never missed an appointment. She did miss dozens of holidays, did have three marriages end in divorce, did make abundantly clear her first priority.

“Think of the impact she has every Sunday,” Richardson said. “And it’s funny, because she’s not really a football fan, or really recognized. But we know her importance.”

Raised in a traditional Italian family on Long Island, Ripi lived in a healthy household, at the directive of her father, John: no white bread, no soda and an abundance of vitamins.

Ripi took a winding path into acupuncture: art school, aerobics instruction, massage therapy and body building, in which she qualified for several national competitions. Despite standing 5 feet 3 inches, she squatted and dead-lifted 250 pounds.

In 1996, a friend suggested that acupuncture would alleviate Ripi’s shoulder pain, and after two sessions, it disappeared. So Ripi went to school for acupuncture and Chinese pharmacology and finished the five-year program in four years.

Soon after, while visiting another friend in Costa Rica, Ripi met the actor Woody Harrelson, who asked for treatment “posthaste,” she said. She slipped a business card into Harrelson’s luggage, which led to two years of traveling with and treating him, and to other celebrity clients like the singer Mariah Carey.

Back in New York in March 1998, Ripi was referred to Jumbo Elliott, an injured offensive tackle for the Jets. She knew nothing about football and assumed Elliott was a body builder until she saw his Jets memorabilia. He later offered to take her to training camp and introduce her to his teammates.

She met her core group of clients that summer in Hempstead, N.Y., and as the players switched teams — Farrior to Pittsburgh and Chad Pennington to Miami — her business and travel expanded.

Players require individualized treatment. Steelers linebacker James Harrison takes more than 300 needles, and Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora begs for fewer than 40. Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis hates needles and grips the table as if under attack.

Ripi views the players more as brothers than clients. She saw the world with Cincinnati linebacker Dhani Jones for his Travel Channel show. She stores tables at the players’ houses; travels to training camps, Super Bowls and Pro Bowls; works every Christmas and Thanksgiving. Ripi’s services are not cheap. She charges $220 for one treatment or $1,200 each day, and expenses.

She spends roughly 12 hours each Thursday treating at least 10 players at Farrior’s house, where the Steelers hold their men’s “spa night” featuring acupuncture. Ripi cooks dinner for them, and they play cards while they wait turns. She starts with nose tackle Casey Hampton at 3:30 p.m. and finishes with Harrison roughly 12 hours later.

Ripi can tell the position each plays simply on the location of the pain: wide receiver (legs, shoulders), offensive lineman (elbows, back), quarterback (throwing shoulder), defensive lineman (back), running back (hamstring).

On Sundays, she sometimes watches football. But Ripi’s clients often face one another, prompting conflicting emotions, especially when a defensive client mauls an offensive client, and she ponders how she will treat the resulting pain.

Depending on their tolerance (or honesty), players described acupuncture as painful, slightly painful or not painful; as a pinch or a burning sensation. They said the groin and the back of the knee hurt the most. Jets offensive tackle Damien Woody said, “She’s kind of lethal with it.”

Ripi performs a combination of massage with acupuncture to relax players and find sore spots and trigger points. She does use established points, too, to increase the flow of what she called stuck blood. This season, Revis went to Ripi for his injured hamstring, and she stuck one needle atop his head.

“She might hit a nerve, and you might get a zap,” Jones said. “Or she’ll put one in your groin, and pain might shoot into the big toe.”

Recently, Deadspin reported that Ripi oversaw the Jets’ massage therapist program when two therapists were sent inappropriate text messages from the former quarterback Brett Favre. The Web site said Ripi urged the therapists to remain silent. Ripi declined to comment on the report, but she is considering hiring a lawyer. (She does not oversee the massage program.)

Her clients wonder why most teams ignore less traditional methods like acupuncture, with all that they invest in healing players’ battered bodies. Farrior, wearing his team president hat, said he would require it.

Ripi says that more teams and athletes across all sports will eventually turn to acupuncture. Her clients do not seem so sure. Some teams do not even have massage therapists or nutritionists on staff, Jones said. But Ripi has faith because she still treats retired players, because even front-office types like Bill Parcells tried her table, because, she insisted, acupuncture works.

John Ripi described his daughter as softhearted and giving, and over the years, he learned to accept her absence at family gatherings. He came to understand how all the dots connected, from Harrelson in the jungle, to Thursday nights at Farrior’s house, to a life spent healing football players without fanfare. “I take what I do seriously,” Ripi said. “It’s a euphoric, spontaneous feeling. They come first. Before anyth ing. Before me.” With that, Ripi went home to pack. The traveling N.F.L. acupuncturist had a flight to catch.

 

Athletes will try anything to beat pain and get back in the game.  For the most part, that means taking drugs that carry harmful or annoying side effects or, in  the worst of cases, undergoing surgery.  But doctors at Columbia University Medical Center see real promise in acupuncture.  “Lots of cyclists suffer from pelvic pain, “says Dr. Christopher Winfree, a neurosurgeon at Columbia and the director of Columbia’s Center for Chronic Pelvic Pain. “Sitting on a bike for a long time can cause lots of nerve damage.  In the past I’d often have to operate, but since I began prescribing acupuncture two years ago, I’ve seen 100 patients and haven’t performed a single operation.  This shows a lot of promise for other sports-related pain.”  It’s well known that acupuncture, which is sometimes covered by insurance, releases endorphines that kill pain, but doctors aren’t certain why it works so well for pelvic pain.  “Right now our evidence for acupuncture working for chronic pelvic pain is purely anecdotal,” says Winfree.  “But that anecdotal evidence is going to put me out of business.”  This article originally appreared in the July/August Issue of Men’s Journal. by Pablo Calvi.  At AcuSportsMed Wellness Clinic in Boulder, CO we specialize in working with athletes for these particular pain issues.  For more information call 720-201-2449.


 

Avoid training when your tired, you should be strong and ready to exercise.

Increase your carbohydrates during heavy training.

Be sure to rest, the more you train, increase rest ratio.  Rest is how the body regenerates.

Treat even seemingly minor injuries carefully to prevent further problems.

Recovery time is important.  Never train hard if your stiff from previous training session.

Hydration is very important.  Drink plenty of electrolyte water during training and water after.

Be sure to warm up and cool down before training or activity.

Monitor fatigue.  If in doubt, ease off your workouts for a day or two.

Get regular massages to keep the muscles loose and the blood circulating properly.

Acupuncture and herbal sports supplements are great for opening up the energy channels in your body and creates blood circulation.  Great for strenghtening the body while preventing injuries.

David Fitch, L.Ac, D.Ac is a sports acupuncturist and chinese medical practitioner who works with many professional and world-class athletes.  He specializes in sports injury, rehabilitation, performance enhancement and nutrition.

 

Acupuncture needles are extremely thin and made of high quality stainless steel. Unlike hypodermic needles, their tip is smooth and not hollow. Only pre-sterilized needles are used and they are always disposed of immediately after each use. This assures there is no transmission of communicable diseases from patient to patient.

 

The Pain Clinic and Medical Department of Skodsborg Sanatorium in Denmark conducted a randomized double-blind study which compared acupuncture needling with the drug metoprolol in controlling migraines.

Both groups showed a significant reduction in frequency or duration of attacks, with no significant difference between the two groups. The metoprolol group showed a greater reduction in severity of attacks while the acupuncture group reported fewer side-effects.

It should be noted, however, that 1. the acupuncture group all received the same treatment (i.e. there was no selection of points according to differentiation of pattern), and 2. that the metoprolol group received ’sham’ acupuncture, which has been shown in other studies (see ‘Acupuncture in Pulmonary Disease, NEWS, May 1995) to have a significant subjective and objective effect.

 

According to traditional Chinese medicine, each person is viewed as a complete energetic system. Energy, or Qi (pronounced chee), flows along pathways called channels or meridians that cover the entire body somewhat like nerves and blood vessels do. Naturally, energy flows toward areas where it is deficient and away from areas where there is an excess, thus achieving balance. When this energy flow is disrupted, optimum function is affected resulting in pain or illness.

Acupuncture is used to facilitate the natural balance of energy. It eases blockages to restore the harmonious flow of energy throughout the body, thus relieving pain or discomfort.

The modern scientific explanation for acupuncture’s efficacy is that needling the carefully selected acupuncture points stimulate the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones, which influence the bodies own internal regulating system.

 

December 26, 2008

Dear Mayo Clinic:
What do you think of acupuncture as a treatment for various ailments? How does it work?

Answer:
Acupuncture, which has been used and studied throughout the world for more than 4,000 years, can be utilized to rebalance the flow of energy (Qi) in the body and effectively treat many conditions. At Mayo Clinic, acupuncture has been used successfully for pain management, postoperative nausea, anxiety relief, drug addiction, insomnia and headaches, to name a few.

Acupuncture is administered by inserting up to a dozen or more tiny needles into very precise locations (points) determined by symptoms. The needle insertion points are based on a series of points along meridians or channels that interconnect throughout the body, each with a different function. There are twelve principle meridians within the body, containing almost 400 acupuncture points.

Patients rarely have any discomfort with needle insertion. Needles remain in place for 15 to 45 minutes. During a treatment, the acupuncturist may gently stimulate the needles manually, apply heat with a ceramic lamp at a safe distance, or attach low-frequency electrical stimulation. The goal is to improve energy flow in the body, thus relieving pain and other symptoms, allowing people to sleep better and improve their quality of life.

For some conditions, one treatment provides rapid relief. Other situations, such as chronic pain management, may require a series of treatments. In some cases, symptom relief is not always immediate and may require a period of two to three days for the positive effects to be noted. This is in part related to delayed secretion of endorphins.

While some patients and providers remain skeptical of its therapeutic value, acupuncture is becoming more mainstream in Western medicine as a stand-alone treatment or as one element of a comprehensive treatment plan.

As a practicing neurosurgeon, I can cite several examples of acupuncture’s beneficial effects. These stories from our patients illustrate the scope of acupuncture’s benefits:

Post-surgery nausea: Nausea and vomiting after surgery can be a serious side effect of anesthesia for some patients. It can slow recovery and require some patients to remain in the hospital for weeks on IV fluids. Potential complications of extended bed rest include increased risk of pneumonia and blood clots. One acupuncture treatment can abate the nausea, as shown in this case:

A colleague of mine needed neck surgery and had a lifelong history of postoperative nausea that resulted in prolonged hospital stays. We performed acupuncture within an hour of surgery. At that point, she was already developing nausea. Following one acupuncture treatment, she didn’t need anti-nausea medication, slept well and sailed through the rest of her recovery. She and her husband considered the benefit dramatic. We also have seen dramatic results in liver and heart transplant patients with relief of nausea and quicker recovery.

Tennis and golf elbow (epicondylitis): Another patient, who is an avid tennis player, believed he was permanently sidelined because of elbow pain. Aggressive physical therapy and steroid injections hadn’t helped. With one acupuncture session, his pain was eliminated, and several days later he played in a doubles match — and won. Studies have shown that, for this type of pain, acupuncture can be more effective than steroid injections or physical therapy alone.

Cancer recovery: Another patient had difficulty bouncing back after surgery — an esophagus resection to treat cancer. Like many patients who undergo this procedure, he had problems with eating, lost weight and wasn’t able to work or exercise. After he had lost almost 50 pounds and nothing else helped, he tried a series of acupuncture treatments. He says the acupuncture gave him his life back. He has returned to work and more normal activities, has gained needed weight, and works out regularly with a trainer.

Granted, these are anecdotes. Not everyone will experience similar results, nor might everyone even be a candidate for acupuncture. Acupuncture has an excellent safety profile, with negligible risk of infection or bleeding. It can safely be performed on patients who are on blood thinners, unlike many other pain management modalities. Patients should seek treatment by physicians who have received extensive training in the art and science of acupuncture.

Overall, an ever-growing body of research confirms the benefits of acupuncture. One treatment can cost from $100 to $200, and most insurance companies do not cover acupuncture. Coverage is slowly becoming more common, however, as insurers see that acupuncture can help reduce health care costs when fewer pain medications are needed and patients can be discharged more quickly from the hospital.

— Ronald Reimer, M.D., Neurosurgery, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla.

 

Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into the body at precise points which have been shown to be effective in the treatment of specific health problems. These acupuncture points have been mapped by Chinese practitioners over a period of two thousand years. Yet, it was only recently that advanced electromagnetic research has confirmed the validity of these locations.

Acupuncture is part of the complete medical system of traditional Chinese medicine. It is a method that encourages the body to promote natural healing and to improve functioning.

 

Serving: BOULDER, CO….. LAFAYETTE, CO…..
LOUISVILLE, CO….. SUPERIOR, CO….. BROOMFIELD, CO

The emphasis of this site is on Health and Wellness using Chinese Medicine principles.  Acupuncture, Sports Medicine, Herbal Medicine, Tui Na massage.

I am David Fitch, Nationally Certified and Colorado licensed Acupuncturist and Oriental Medicine Practitioner.

I am a General Practitioner with special interests in Sports Injuries, Pain Management, Joint Mobility Management, Digestive Disorders, Emotional Well-Being, Immune Support, Wellness and Men’s Reproductive Health.

I currently have Two Office Locations: Facilitated Wellness within Flatiron Athletic Club, Boulder, CO and AcuSportsMed located within Moore-Life Chiropractic Wellness Center, 95th and Arapaho, Lafayette, CO.  See contact page for more details.

At AcuSportsMed Wellness, you don’t have to be an athlete to have injuries, aches and pains.  I work with anyone that desires freedom from ailments and desires a pain free healthy body.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, each person is viewed as a complete energetic system. Energy, or Qi (pronounced chee), flows along pathways called channels or meridians that cover the entire body somewhat like nerves and blood vessels do. Naturally, energy flows toward areas
where it is deficient and away from areas where there is an excess, thus achieving balance. When this energy flow is disrupted, optimum function is affected resulting in pain or illness.

Acupuncture is used to facilitate the natural balance of energy. It eases blockages to restore the harmonious flow of energy throughout the body, thus relieving pain or discomfort.

The modern scientific explanation for acupuncture’s efficacy is that needling the carefully selected acupuncture points stimulate the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones, which influence the bodies own internal regulating system.

 
David Fitch, L.Ac, CMT

David Fitch, L.Ac, Dipl.Ac, CMT

David Fitch is a Nationally Certified and Colorado licensed Acupuncturist and Oriental Medicine Practitioner. His special interests include Sports Injuries, Pain Management, Joint Mobility Management, Digestive Disorders, Emotional Well-Being, Immune Support, Wellness and Men’s Reproductive Health.
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