Whitfield Reaves first began the study of acupuncture in 1976. After being treated with acupuncture for the first time, he knew that this would be his profession and lifelong work. Dr. Grace Liu, both an acupuncturist and a medical doctor from China, would become Whitfield’s first teacher. A formal apprenticeship with Dr. Liu began in 1977, spending a year and a half together in a traditional teaching relationship. When the first acupuncture college was approved by the medical board in the State of California, a move to Los Angeles was in order. This was 1978, and Whitfield was part of the first class ever taught at SAMRA University of Health Sciences. After graduation in 1981, he continued his studies in Beijing, China. During this internship, his group rotated in three hospital clinics that were part of Beijing Medical College, treating and observing hundreds of patients a week. On his return to the US, Whitfield worked on a doctorate program, resulting in his thesis titled "Acupuncture and the treatment of common running injuries". It was one of the first articles in English that integrated traditional Chinese theory of acupuncture with western orthopedic and sports medicine. In 1983, Whitfield received his Doctorate of Oriental Medicine (OMD) degree.
Whitfield started practice in October of 1981 in San Diego, California. Specialization in sports medicine acupuncture actually began in February, 1982. One afternoon long-distance runner Joe League inquired about acupuncture for his lingering achilles tendonitis. Whitfield treated his inflamed tendon for four straight days. That weekend Mr. League ran the Mission Bay Marathon. With thousands of runners competing in this famous 26.2 mile race, out of the fog emerged Joe League as he crossed the finish line first. Whitfield’s patient had won the race, and within days, his office was filled with runners and other endurance athletes.
THE 1984 OLYMPICS
By late 1983, Whitfield returned to Los Angeles to practice at the very high profile clinic The International Sports Medicine Institute. Athletes from around the world were being treated at this facility, and to be part of it was an experience of a life-time. He treated elite athletes for the months preceding the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. Prior to the start of the events, ABC News took notice of treatments that he and several colleagues were administering in the medical section of the Olympic Village. Several days later, ABC featured a long segment on how Olympic athletes were using acupuncture and Chinese herbs in their training. Exposure on prime time television was great promotion for this new emerging medicine and its use in the sports community.
From 1984 on, Whitfield’s specialization in the treatment of sports injuries and the enhancement of athletic performance was clear and defined. From 1985 through 1988 he worked with cyclists training for The Race Across America. This ultra-endurance event starts on the West coast, lasts for a week to ten days, and after 3,000 miles ends at the Atlantic seaboard. He accompanied the women’s first place finisher in the 1986 event. Whitfield also treated many athletes in skiing, cycling, and trail running throughout the 1980s.
In 1989, Whitfield moved to Boulder, Colorado, which was at the time the number one “destination location” for endurance athletes around the world. Olympic Gold medalists as well national and world record holders came to Boulder to train. Triathletes, long-distance runners, cyclists, as well as alpine and nordic ski racers became patients in Whitfield’s clinic. Over the years, the opportunity to treat these elite athletes was demanding, exciting, and an essential aspect in the development of his techniques in acupuncture sports medicine.
Whitfield continues to work with runners, cyclists, and triathletes who want to stay healthy, prevent injury, and improve their personal performance. His patients range from the competitive athlete to the active individual who experiences pain and musculoskeletal dysfunction. The techniques Whitfield developed over the years may applicable to all patients, and this is the foundation of his clinic Boulder Acupuncture Sports Medicine.
THE ACUPUNCTURE HANDBOOK
In August of 2009, Whitfield completed writing and publishing his life’s work – The Acupuncture Handbook of Sports Injuries and Pain. It is a clinical manual for acupuncturists, using a systematic Four-Step Approach to the treatment of 25 common sports injuries and pain syndromes. It is currently used by practitioners in North America and Europe to guide them in treating pain and injury. In addition, The Acupuncture Handbook is being used by accredited colleges as a course text book.
WHITFIELD’S HOME AND FAMILY
Whitfield lives in Boulder, Colorado, with his wife Mary and their son Martin. Mary Saunders is an acupuncturist, who practices in the community acupuncture open clinic style. Her clinic Boulder Community Acupuncture offers quality care at affordable prices using an "open clinic room" concept. The website of the clinic is filled with interesting information. Visit BoulderCommunityAcupuncture.com. Martin Reaves, age 21, attends Montana State University College of Engineering. In addition to being a student, he is a professional slalom skateboard racer. He is the 2009 co-national champion, and over the last two years, he has won giant slalom races at the World championships, the European championships (Czech Republic), and the Canadian-American championships.
Photos above: Whitfield Reaves in Engelberg, Switzerland, after teaching in Zurich
Whitfield (right) and his son Martin on the summit of 14,000 foot Gray’s Peak, CO
Whitfield and his wife Mary Saunders, in Pisa, Italy, after teaching in Switzerland
FOR WHITFIELD REAVES COMPLETE RESUME