Foreword by Koji Murofushi, Sports Director, the Tokyo Olympic Games, 2020, PhD in Sports Biomechanics

Dr. Ma’s Neurologic Dry Needling system and athletic performance: My personal experience

Athletes are committed to achieving their best performance and they push their bodies to the physical limit in training and competition. They do this for not just a day, but for years and years in their daily workouts. I was not an exception. When something does not feel right in the body, even just a small feeling of discomfort, it lowers the quality of the movement and either causes a deficiency in the movement, or requires a compensating movement. Repetition of such a wrong movement can cause injury. Even if the performance goal is achieved, the athlete may pay a cost, even to the point of having to end their athletic career.

Athletes begin to lose their capacity to recover when they reach the age of 30, and from a biological standpoint, this capability has surely deteriorated by the age of 35. Many athletes feel these limitations and start considering retirement during this period. Just as a piece of metal gets weakened when it is made to bend repeatedly in the same way, it is the repetition of certain movements that causes persistent fatigue and injury to the body, and this is how the athlete’s performance deteriorates. 

Dr. Ma’s Neurological Dry Needling system is not a trial-and-error approach, but is supported by evidence from scientific and clinical research. I can guarantee that it has a huge effect on an athlete’s rate of recovery in their daily routine and it is the best system for mitigating chronic deficiency and damage. Obviously Dr. Ma’s NDN system is beneficial not only to athletes but to anyone who suffers from soft tissue injury, whether acute or chronic.

Since this is an anatomically-based neurologic approach, in contrast to the traditional Trigger-Point method, it can be customized for the specific movement problems that arise in different athletic disciplines. I have personally experienced the results: muscle tone was balanced so my movement became better coordinated and more efficient. 

My discipline is Hammer Throw, in which the athlete grasps a handle which is attached to a 16-pound metal ball by a wire, then turns around 4 times and releases it. At the moment of release, the tension in the wire may reach 750 lbs. I had been practicing this sport for more than 25 years, and it was becoming increasingly difficult for my body to recover from the fatigue and damage. However, the situation completely changed when I met Dr. Ma. I earned a world championship at the age of 36, becoming the oldest IAAF men’s world champion in history, and I won an Olympic bronze medal when I was 38, having almost given up the hope of Olympic medals when I passed 35. Until I retired in 2016, I won the Japanese national title for 20 consecutive years.

I believe these achievements were accomplished by improving the quality of my movement with the help of a Physical Therapist and recovering steadily by using Dr Ma’s NDN method on a daily basis.

Athletes cannot waste a single day while preparing for a competition. Every day of training is like a competition. It is a matter of great concern that when an athlete develops any health issue, they may not be able to attain their best performance. If you can apply your best effort every day, it will lead to a good result. If not, you will not achieve your goal.

According to the saying “more haste, less speed”, the best way to achieve a goal is to work on high quality program with a proper allowance for recovery, both physical and mental, even though this takes time. 

Finally, this is not only about high performance but can also be applied to healthy life in general. It is often said that athletes can be role models for health promotion, but this is not always the case as some athletes have achieved great performances in competition but their life is poor in terms of health. High-profile athletes have the responsibility of being active role models to inspire people, especially the young generation, to live with a healthy lifestyle. Effective training should include adequate time for recovery. The more generally healthy an athlete can become, the more sustainable will be their athletic career. There are many athletes who continue to suffer from injury even after their careers are over, and I believe that Dr. Ma’s neurologic approach has the capacity to bring gold medals not only in sports but also in everyone’s life.

I am confident that Dr. Ma’s Neurologic Dry Needling system will be a centerpiece of the conditioning and physical therapy industry for many years to come.

Koji Murofushi

  • PhD in Sports Biomechanics, Professor and Chief of Sports Science Center at Tokyo Medical and Dental University

  • Sports Director, The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, 2020

Athletics: Hammer Throw / PB 84m86 2003 (Prague)

■ Associations■

  • Member, Executive board and Athletes’ commission of Olympic Council of Asia 

  • Member, Executive board and Athletes’ Commission of The Japanese Olympic Committee

  • Member, Executive board of Japan Association of Athletics federations.

  • Member, Athletes’ Committee of World Anti-Doping Agency 

  • Member, Athletes’ Committee of Japan Anti-Doping Agency 

  • Member, Athletes’ Commission of International Association of Athletics Federations

■ Publications and books in Japan■

  • Kodokuna Ohja from Bungei–Shunju

  • Koeru Chikara (Strength To Overcome) from Bungei-Shunju

  • Best Performance Wo Hikidasu Hou Hou (Way to bring out your Best Performance)Baseball Magazine Co.

■ Society Contribution■

  • Kids program in earthquake-affected area in Japan. 

■ Distinction■

  • Medals of Honor in Japan/ Medals with Purple Ribbon (2004)

  • World Fair Play Trophy (2011)