About Whitfield Reaves
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, the network 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 1988, 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, Boulder Acupuncture Sports Medicine. Over the years, the opportunity to treat these elite athletes was demanding, exciting, and an essential aspect in the development of his techniques in sports acupuncture. In 2014, Whitfield retired from clinical duties in the Boulder office, and now serves as a consultant.
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 lived in Boulder, Colorado with his wife Mary Saunders and son Martin Reaves for over 25 years. From 2013 to 2017, they went on sabbatical to Maui. While the Apprenticeship Program was taught in Hawaii, it was also a wonderful break from three decades of clinical practice, and a time to revitalize. It was from these few years that the webinar series, Mastering the Treatment of Injury and Pain, was born. In August of 2020 this 40 hour online learning course was released, systematically presenting all of Whitfield's work in orthopedic and sports medicine acupuncture in the convenient webinar format. This series is hosted by Net of Knowledge.
After some travels on the mainland to help with family members, Whitfield and Mary returned to Maui, joining their son Martin. They live in the town of Kihei, on the south side of the island. In October of 2021, Whitfield is opening his private practice clinic specializing in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, orthopedic injury, and sports medicine.
Photos above: Whitfield Reaves at Pacific Symposium
With son Martin on 14,000 foot Gray’s Peak, CO
Whitfield and Mary in Italy after teaching in Europe
Photo to left: Whitfield walking the North Shore of Maui