Minor league baseball player Randy Markstrom was on the fast track to the major leagues. In the early 1990s, he was burning up AAA, hitting .374 as a 23 year old. On a routine slide into second base, he felt a twinge in his lower back. “At first, I thought nothing of it,” said Markstrom. “By the next morning, though, I could not even stand up straight.” The problem never completely went away. He was able to finish that season, but his batting average plummeted, as his back kept him from unleashing his powerful swing with the fluidity that he used to have.
That off season, Markstrom sought out every specialist. He tried pills, exercises, chiropractors, but nothing seemed to improve his achy back. He spent the majority of the following season bouncing on and off the disabled list, and by the season after that, at the age of twenty four, this young player, who once was penciled in as a sure fire starter in Major League Baseball, was out of the game in the United States. He tried to resurrect his career in the Japanese League, but he discovered something even more important.
“My injury problems were not going away,” said Markstrom, now thirty two years of age. “One season, when I was twenty nine, I went on a weekend trip to China, and it was on that trip that I was first introduced to the benefits of Chinese medicine.” One of his team doctors suggested that Markstrom visit a Chinese massage therapist on his trip. “I have had plenty of sports massages before. I assumed it would be your run of the mill deep tissue therapeutic massage. To a certain extent, it was, but that was just the beginning.”
During the session, Markstrom’s massage therapist called in the clinic’s chinese medicine doctor. “The doctor suggested acupuncture. I’d heard of it before, of course, but I had always assumed that anything Chinese medicine could do, American medicine could do better.” At first, Markstrom dismissed the idea of receiving an acupuncture treatment. “People stabbing me with needles? No way. But then I thought to myself, what do I really have to lose? Literally nothing else had worked.”
Markstrom allowed the acupuncturist to do a few treatments. Within four weeks, his back pain had greatly subsided, and by the end of that season, he was dominating the Japanese league in multiple statistical categories. He hopes to break back into Major League Baseball next season. “Ever since coming back to the States,” said Markstrom, “I can not stop recommending Chinese medicine to people. Thanks to acupuncture, I have a chance to revive a dream I had all but given up on.”