Select Page
Ancient Remedies for Modern Lives
Interview with Bret Moldenhauer, LAc, DAc

At the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games IOC President Jacques Rogge described the international sporting event as “happy and glorious”. This year’s Games not only displayed sporting excellence, they also provided the stage for acupuncture and other natural healing modalities such as therapeutic taping.

Chattanooga-based acupuncturist Bret Moldenhauer traveled to London to provide acupuncture treatments to star track athlete Dee Dee Trotter during her Olympic appearance. Moldenhauer’s treatments were designed to keep Trotter in top shape during her competitions in the Olympic stadium. Trotter ended up winning the bronze medal in the 400-meters in a time of 49.72 in London as well as the gold medal in the 4×400-meter relay – and she made no secret of the positive effects that acupuncture had on her performance. According to Trotter, her regular acupuncture treatments played a key role in making these medals possible.

Olympic track athlete Dee Dee Trotter and her personal acupuncturist Bret Moldenhauer at the London Olympics

Moldenhauer practices at the Institute for Acupuncture & Wellness in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he specializes in sports acupuncture treating not only Dee Dee Trotter but the players of the Chattanooga Football Club as well as other professional and local athletes.

Upon his return from the Olympics, Moldenhauer talked to the Qi blog about his experience as a personal acupuncturist for Dee Dee Trotter at the London Games.

1. Mr. Moldenhauer, how did you experience the atmosphere at the Olympic Games in London?

The atmosphere was electric. The city itself is quite orderly, and everything was moving very smoothly. The trains and public transit have been superb. Most people were afraid that the tube, the London subway, wouldn’t be able to handle all of the traffic but I have found moving all over London to be quite easy and pleasant. The most congested days of travel were on the days that the men’s 100 meters ran. Everybody wanted to see Usain Bolt from Jamaica.

In the Olympic stadium itself, it was quite an amazing site. The track and field events were at full capacity every day. Being there watching my runners win their medals was an experience I will never forget. It was especially emotional to actually hold one of the medals my patient Dee Dee Trotter won in the women’s 400 meters. A true mission accomplished.

2. How often did you treat runner Dee Dee Trotter and what kind of treatments did you provide?

Moldenhauer with one of Trotter’s Olympic medals

The runners had a full week of training before race week in London. That was where most of my acupuncture treatments took place. Depending on the day I gave either one or two treatments per day. The days, that more than one treatment was given, was usually due to how much additional medical attention was needed. Sometimes I would focus on one section of the body, let Dee Dee rest for a while and then treat another area. I typically applied acupuncture treatments after Dee Dee’s track practice and after she had eaten.

Dee Dee and I have worked together for several years so we assess pretty quickly what her body needs and which treatments will work. The whole purpose of the acupuncture treatments I administered was to keep her muscles loose and free of tension. Just a few degrees of additional joint mobility can make the difference between going home with a medal and just going home.

3. Why did Dee Dee decide to bring her own acupuncturist along to the Olympic Games?

Dee Dee Trotter at the medal ceremony in the London Olympic stadium

Dee Dee decided to bring me for a few reasons: the first one was that we have worked together for quite some time and we both know what results to expect. We’ve got the kind of acupuncture treatments I provide for her down to a science: The timing of a treatment and the proper rest afterwards is critical. Secondly, the USA Track & Field did have not acupuncturists credentialed for the 2012 Summer Olympics so Dee Dee decided to bring her own practitioner.

Because of my presence at the Olympic Games and Dee Dee’s phenomenal comeback to the sport as well as her commanding performance on the track in London, athletes and staff were able to see the benefits of acupuncture therapy. That opened the door for future acupuncture work on a larger scale. It was a huge “job interview” for acupuncture at the Olympics in general, and I’m happy to say we passed with flying colors!

4. Do you know of any other athletes that were using acupuncture and other Oriental medical treatments during the Olympic Games?

The use of acupuncture at the Olympic Games this year was minimal. The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) hadn’t credentialed acupuncture this time so it was really just me operating within the legal framework of the IOC. But I can definitely say that the world has been made aware of the benefits of acupuncture therapy and the obvious edge acupuncture can give the track athlete. And as a result, wrestling, gymnastics and Taekwondo sports teams are now taking a closer look at acupuncture and what it might provide for their sports.

5. Would you say acupuncture and Oriental medicine has become more popular at professional competitions?

Moldenhauer with Gabonese athletes at the London 2012 Olympics

Acupuncture is becoming more and more an accepted therapy for top athletes around the world. Athletes wouldn’t frequently seek acupuncture treatments if they didn’t produce results. It is almost in vogue to have your personal acupuncturist with you. It sends the message that you are at the top of your game, and you have the “body mechanic” to prove it.

Every event that I went to whether it was preparing runners for team trials or treating athletes at the Olympics, I would pick up other world-class runners who were looking for the same benefits they saw in the other runners.

6. How can athletes – both professional and recreational – benefit from acupuncture and Oriental medicine?

Acupuncturist Bret Moldenhauer at the London 2012 Olympics

Whether you are an Olympic hopeful, a serious student of your game or a weekend warrior wanting to keep up with your kids, acupuncture can provide the benefits of keeping your muscles supple and free of restrictions allowing you to perform at your very best. Acupuncture can also help in the prevention of sports injuries and can be an excellent adjunct to any rehabilitation program for sports injuries.

Bret Moldenhauer, LAc, DAc,  specializes in the treatment professional world class and Olympic athletes. He is the association president for the Tennessee Acupuncture Council and a faculty lecturer on Chinese medicine for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. His clinic serves as a provider for elective rounds in acupuncture for second and third year residents of the UTC college of medicine. Moldenhauer has full hospital privileges with the anesthesia department in the Erlanger Hospital systems, and he is an expert witness for the Tennessee House and Senate and has been instrumental in the policy making in the state of Tennessee. He is a four time military gold medalist in Taekwondo, serving on two All Army, two Armed Forces and two world CISM military Taekwondo teams. He earned his master of science degree in Oriental medicine at the Florida Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine in St. Petersburg, Florida, and completed his advanced studies at the ZheJiang College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Hang Zhou, China. More info at Chattanooga’s Institute of Acupuncture & Wellness

photos courtesy of Bret Moldenhauer