As I like to say, "Acupuncture can help everyone!" Acupuncture can help increase your fitness, athletic mobility and optimize performance, protect your mental and emotional fitness, relax your mind and recharge your spirit, and improve your overall health and quality of life. There are many ways acupuncture can make an impact on your life, and here are a few key points:
- Acupuncture helps you relax. Relaxation (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) will assist in reducing muscular tension, minimizing or eliminating pain, booting your energy levels, as well as improving your response to stress. Diminishing your reaction to stress provides many health benefits, including less inflammation, lower blood pressure, improvements in length and quality of sleep, increased immunity, which can lead to an improvement in your overall health and fitness.
- Acupuncture strengthens your body's natural defense system against illness. The Eastern view of the human body relies on harmony, which is similar to the Western model of homeostasis. If all your body's systems are acting in harmony (with yourself as well as your environment), there will be no illness, no disease, and no pain. In other words, harmony = health. Acupuncture acts on influential points throughout your body to promote equilibrium, provide homeostasis, and maintain health.
- Acupuncture is very effective to reduce and manage pain. Sports injuries and acute pain can be effectively treated with acupuncture, cupping therapy, herbal medicine, and medical massage. Combining these modalities is a powerful way to stimulate the circulation of blood, body fluids, and energy (Qi). Increased circulation enhances body's innate ability to heal by reducing pain, swelling and inflammation, promoting tissue repair, relaxing muscle cramps, and increasing flexibility and mobility. Acupuncture is an ideal recovery strategy for athletes. In addition, acupuncture balances the nervous system to treat the causes of chronic pain, which may be physical, mental, emotional, and/or spiritual. When the root of the issue is resolved and harmony is restored, and the branch (pain) is released.
Topical linaments, ointments, oils, and creams are especially suited to sports injuries and soft tissue damage. Herbal tinctures are effective, fast-acting, and very useful for both acute conditions, such as the common cold and flu, or chronic conditions such as allergies, headaches, insomnia, PMS, and stress. In addition, essential oils are employed in most treatments, as aromatherapy adds benefit to the acupuncture treatment.
Cupping is a very effective therapy for releasing local stagnation and increasing blood circulation in the tissues. Cupping stimulates the flow of blood, lymph, and energy (Qi) to the local area as well as throughout the body by means of the meridians. Glass or plastic cups are placed on the skin, and a vacuum is created through the removal of air between the cups and the skin. As this vacuum gently pulls the cupped tissue upwards, you may feel a sensation of tightness under the cups, which is generally relaxing and usually feels good. Cupping is most commonly used to release muscle tension and reduce pain, stiffness or soreness. Large muscle groups such as the hamstrings and quadriceps can benefit greatly from from cupping, and it works wonders for neck pain, upper and lower back pain, and shoulder pain! Cupping can also relieve tissue and lymph congestion to speed recovery from colds, coughs, allergies, and asthma. Most often cupping is combined with acupuncture, but in some cases it may be used as a standalone therapy. Please note that cupping may leave circular marks, which are not typically painful, but can lead to questions from your family and friends!
Gua Sha literally means to "scrape away" stagnant blood and Qi (Eastern view) or metabolic waste (Western view). A jade tool is used to scrape the skin over a massage oil to stimulate the body's detoxification process and produce anti-inflammatory and immune stimulating effects. The goal of Gua Sha is to remove stagnant blood and Qi (energy), cleanse metabolic waste, and nourish the body to enhance cellular metabolism and microcirculation. Gua Sha can help resolve pain and stiffness, such as neck pain, shoulder pain, muscle sprains, ligament and tendon injuries, as well as to provide relief from the common cold, coughs, sore throat, flu, fever, headaches, digestive disorders, gynecological complaints, and much more.
Tui Na is translated as "push-grasp" and more often known as Chinese medical massage. Tui Na works at an energetic level as acupoints are stimulated with pressure and rhythmic compression along the same meridians used for acupuncture. Trigger point activation, myofascial release, and lymphatic drainage are all utilized during Tui Na massage to maintain health and wellness. This type of medical massage impacts the blood, lymph, and Qi (energy) flow and is very effective for chronic complaints, such as joint pain, muscle stiffness, stress, sciatica, neck pain, shoulder pain, sprains and strains, sports injuries, etc.
Proper nutrition is of paramount importance to cultivate, retain, and advance your health. Nutrition therapy can help to you to develop, manage, and exceed your personal fitness goals. In additional to enhancing your athletic performance, nutrition therapy is suited to a wide range of conditions, such as allergies and asthma, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, and obesity. The premise of Chinese nutrition therapy is to eat in accordance with your body's constitution as well as the seasons. The goal of nutrition therapy is to create harmony within your personal digestion, which leads to increased energy and proper metabolic processing.
It is important to bolster our energy and to stay warm enough as the cold weather ensues moving into Winter. In Chinese Medicine, Winter is the season of the Kidneys and the element of Water. According to traditional theory, it is important to nourish and warm the body as we enter the coldest months of the year. Think of a bear in hibernation, and recognize that Winter is a time to rest, replenish and recharge. Continue to protect your body from the cold with warm jackets, scarfs and cozy hats, and it is also important during the Winter months to keep your feet warm! Remember that bone broth we talked about in Fall? Bone broth is a great way to provide yourself and your family with easily accessible protein and minerals, and can be the base for soups or just drink it plain! The high collagen content of bone broth supports gut health, which is crucial to immune function. Bone broth is easy to make:
- Roast a chicken and save the carcass. Toss the bones and any left over meat into your crockpot. Note you can also use left over pork, lamb, or cow bones.
- Add 2-3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar and then enough water to cover the bones.
- Throw in some chopped veggies (carrots, onion, garlic, celery, whatever you have on hand), and add some spices (salt, pepper, oregano, sage, rosemary, etc). Wash and slice in half a lemon or two and add as well.
- Turn on your crockpot to the lowest setting for at least 12 and up to 24 hours.
- Strain everything out, leaving just the broth. Store in the fridge and warm up to drink. Enjoy!
Winter is a time to cook foods longer at lower temperatures to draw out the healing qualities of the foods as well as to ease the burden of digestion during this natural time of rest. Eat a warm breakfast - you can utilize oats, rice and quinoa if you eat grains. Warm hearty soups or left over lean proteins and veggies make a great lunch. For snacks to nourish the Kidneys try roasted, lightly salted nuts and fresh berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, cherries, etc. Winter dinners should include roasted vegetables, dark leafy greens, and lean proteins such as chicken, pork, beef, or lamb.