Objectives: An enhancement of aerobic capacity has always been in the scope of various exercise programs. Apart from traditional, like endurance training, methods to improve aerobic performance, there is growing interest to alternative bodywork techniques, like massage, yoga, and acupuncture. This study aimed to investigate the acupressure effect on maximal aerobic capacity (VO2max) in healthy young adult males.
Design: Forty young healthy participants were randomly divided into intervention (n = 20) and control (n = 20) groups. The inferred VO2max level in groups was assessed by the 6-min Harvard step test twice: at baseline and after acupressure session.
Intervention: Three-minute finger-tip point massage of Neiguan, Juque, and Xinshu acupoints covered by 1 cm2 sticky capsaicin-dressed heat plasters was applied in the intervention group, whereas in the control group, placebo acupressure was utilized.
Results: The inferred VO2max in the intervention group increased from baseline 2.38 ± 0.48 L/min to 2.57 ± 0.6 L/min (p < 0.003), whereas inferred VO2max of the control group remained unchanged (2.46 ± 0.5 L/min at baseline and 2.47 ± 0.4 L/min after placebo acupressure, p > 0.9).
Conclusions: The results of the study demonstrated that finger-tip acupressure increases aerobic performance of young healthy males on more than 10%. Acupressure probably decreased anxiety level, which allowed better utilization of available energy sources.
Keywords: acupressure; aerobic capacity; integrative medicine.