What is it?
Serious runners will leave no stone unturned in their quest for speed, and the latest trend is acupuncture to ease weary limbs, niggling injuries and post-race fatigue. According to the ancient theories of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is vital in clearing blockages and helping to balance the body's yin and yang, as imbalances manifest themselves as illness or pain. It involves practitioners placing a thin, disposable needle into one of more than 2,000 specific points on the body.
Who's it aimed at?
Any of the 40,000 runners preparing to cover the 26.2 miles from Greenwich to the Mall in the Flora London Marathon next Saturday.
What's the idea?
It is thought that the needles stimulate the brain to release endorphins, boosting mood and relieving tiredness, and trigger the immune system to help to ward off injuries, soreness and joint pain. Several small studies have suggested that it works for runners. One published last year in the journal Chinese Medicine found “significant differences” in muscle soreness among those who had acupuncture during an exhaustive training regimen compared with those who didn't.
Who uses it?
The marathon superwoman, Paula Radcliffe, admits to being a fan. Athletes in other sports, including the tennis player Maria Sharapova, also use it.