To most, acupuncture is a curious riddle. An ancient medical art whose theories are poetic, and healing outcomes seem lopsided considering the gentle stimulation of a thin needle. And regardless of context or complaint, the goal remains the same as it was millennia ago: restoring balance to the whole being.

While our medicine has gained significant traction poking its way into the mainstream healthcare landscape, the journey has been non-linear and, at times, haphazard. But from our conversation with this episode's guest, perhaps trust and mutual respect are the catalysts to bridge the still-existent gap and facilitate the confluence of ancient medicine with modern culture.

In this conversation with Jenny Nieters, we discuss her clinical work as the team acupuncturist for the San Francisco 49ers, the place of East Asian Medicine in sports medicine, and her personal experience enhancing physical performance for both elite professionals and active patients looking to maintain their strength and mobility. We also touch on the need for soft skills as a practitioner, including simplifying and communicating the ‘magic' of acupuncture, being present, inviting mutual respect, and creating space for trust.

Listen into this discussion on acupuncture in sports medicine, the experience, the challenges, and the opportunities it holds.

In This Conversation We Discuss:

  • Being respected as an acupuncturist
  • The value of simplification – When less is more
  • Sticking by your diagnosis
  • Acupuncture as ‘magic' or ‘voodoo'
  • The familiar mystery of acupuncture treatment as a practitioner
  • Working with the eight extraordinary meridians
  • Using E-Stim (Electrical stimulation) in the clinic
  • Jenny's journey into the NFL – When the serendipity of life meets honed communication skills
  • Supporting the yang of action with the yin of recovery while working with NFL athletes
  • Living in a world of no excuses
  • Fighting for your mobility and strength to keep going with age
  • The most surprising thing Jenny discovered about acupuncture
  • Extending respect to our patients
  • When things get complex and you’re not sure what to do, go simple
  • After the age of 40 we have to work for the things we used to take for granted

Having been injured by an acupuncturist, who caused damage to my suprascapular nerve, which caused atrophy to two muscles of my rotator cuff has deeply informed my practice. As a result, I seem to have three fundamental operating principles.
1. Do no harm.
2. Be attentive to every needle, not cavalier.
3. Have a reason for every single needle, be more committed to the present moment and the person in front of me, than to my thoughts or plan about what is happening. More often than not, the simplest solution is the most effective solution.

Jenny Nieters is a Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and is co-owner of Alameda Acupuncture. Jenny specializes in sports and orthopedics.

She is a team acupuncturist for the San Francisco 49ers and for the Saint Mary’s College Men’s rugby team. She works with amateur, collegiate and professional athletes to support athletic performance and recovery. She teaches continuing education for acupuncturists as part of the Acupuncture Sports Medicine Apprenticeship program.



Links and Resources

Find out more about Jenny and her work at


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