Original article| Volume 93, ISSUE 1, P50-55, January 2012

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Bilateral Effects of 6 Weeks' Unilateral Acupuncture and Electroacupuncture on Ankle Dorsiflexors Muscle Strength: A Pilot Study

Published:November 10, 2011DOI:


      Zhou S, Huang L-P, Liu J, Yu J-H, Tian Q, Cao L-J. Bilateral effects of 6 weeks' unilateral acupuncture and electroacupuncture on ankle dorsiflexors muscle strength: a pilot study.


      To determine the effect of unilateral manual acupuncture at selected acupoints on ankle dorsiflexion strength of both limbs, and compare the effect with that of electroacupuncture at the same acupoints and sham points.


      Randomized controlled trial.


      Rehabilitation laboratory of a university.


      Young men (N=43) were randomly allocated into 4 groups: control; manual acupuncture and electroacupuncture on 2 acupoints (ST-36 and ST-39); and electroacupuncture on 2 nonacupoints. These points were located on the tibialis anterior muscle.


      The participants in the experimental groups received 15 to 30 minutes of acupuncture or electroacupuncture on the right leg in each session, 3 sessions per week for 6 weeks.

      Main Outcome Measures

      The maximal strength in isometric ankle dorsiflexion of both legs was assessed before and after the experimental period.


      Repeated-measures analysis of variance identified significant and similar strength gains (range, 35%–64% in the right leg and 32%–49% in the left leg; P<.01) in all acupuncture groups, but not in the control group (−2% to 2%, P>.05).


      Unilateral manual acupuncture and electroacupuncture at the acupoints can improve muscle strength in both limbs, and electroacupuncture at the nonacupoints as used in this study can also induce similar strength gains.

      Key Words

      List of Abbreviations:

      CON (control group), EAcu (electroacupuncture), EMS (electromyostimulation), ESham (electroacupuncture at sham point), fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), H-reflex (Hoffmann's reflex), MAcu (manual acupuncture), MVC (maximal voluntary contraction), RMANOVA (analysis of variance with repeated measures), TCM (traditional Chinese medicine)
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