Picture the scene: Liverpool’s new no-nonsense centre-forward Andy Carroll walks into the Anfield treatment room, looking for a solution to the injury he’s had since before signing for the Reds. Moments later, his body is peppered with pins.
As strange as it might seem, this is the scenario played out at top football clubs around the land as the game gets wise to the healing powers of acupuncture, the ancient Chinese medical practice of curing aches, pains and more with needles.
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While it might sound like a load of alternative therapy bunkum, Kenny Dalglish’s players are routinely treated like voodoo dolls for the sake of making a speedy recovery.
“It helps by working through knots in the muscles, known as trigger points, releasing tension,” says the club’s head of fitness and conditioning, Darren Burgess.
“The less tension that’s built up over time in the muscle, the more likely you are to maximise performance through minimising injury.”
Liverpool right-back and rising star Martin Kelly has been a major beneficiary. “He used to suffer from cramps and tightness in games, but since he’s used acupuncture he’s been feeling great,” adds Burgess.
The Australian physio refused to expose any needle-phobes – “The players would absolutely slaughter me if I named names” – but admitted there were a few players who went a bit faint at being pricked.
“They were sceptical at first, but once they’ve had it a few times they appreciate its effects.”