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, sciatica, and shoulder pain! Cupping is also a great tool for muscle stiffness and sports injuries -- I often utilize this modality as a recovery strategy when treating athletes. 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!
I will often combine Cupping with Gua Sha. 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.
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.
As we move through spring and into the warmer summer months, it is just as important to stay hydrated as it is to be properly nourished by your food choices. I love to incorporate juicy fruits and lightly cooked vegetables, large salads and smoothies into my diet during the summer. Those of us in the Santa Cruz and Aptos areas are so fortunate to have so many wonderful farmers markets to choose from when selecting our fresh produce.
One of my favorite smoothie recipes is as follows:
1 scoop protein powder (I use Arbonne vanilla)
1 cup pineapple chunks (fresh is best but frozen organic works too)
1 cup berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, you name it!)
1 dash powdered cinnamon and/or powdered ginger
(adding a warming spice helps protect the stomach and intestines when consuming cold raw foods)
1-2 cups water, kefir, almond milk, soy milk, regular milk, etc