Acupuncture has been around for centuries, everyone has heard of it, but most people I meet today are quite hesitant about it. I could even use the word ‘afraid’ to describe a lot of people’s feelings towards it.
For those of you who don’t have much awareness of it yet, acupuncture works by using small needles which are inserted into the body at certain points/in certain areas with the aim of stimulating the body’s own healing chemicals to aid recovery, reduce pain and enhance rehabilitation. The process can be used by itself but is often used in conjunction with other therapy mechanisms to achieve more effective results (such as cupping or massage).
It is claimed that these treatments stimulate the flow of something called QI (chee), which circulates the body to connect the superficial body to our deeper organs. Any injury or trauma will supposedly disrupt this flow and acupuncture, therefore, is required to restore this balance and increase the body’s natural healing ability (as mentioned above). I can’t claim to be an expert on this, nor can I vouch for exactly how acupuncture works in this way; but what has been proven to be true is how acupuncture deals with angiogenesis.
This long and complicated word describes the process in which old or dead blood cells are removed and new blood vessels are formed in an area which previously has had poor circulation. This can lead to the above mentioned benefits as well as the prevention of muscle breakdown (pretty important as we all grow older).
So for the last few years I have suffered from a ton of tightness and spasms in the muscles in the middle of my back. Throughout the years I’ve tried a lot of self-release techniques and massage (both of which usually work for most people I meet), but all of these only helped for a matter of hours or days. At this point my attention turned towards both acupuncture and its partner in crime – cupping.
I booked an appointment with a well renowned practitioner at Acuhealth (get in touch with me for details) and off I went. The session begun with about half an hour of electro acupuncture on the middle of my back in an attempt to help it relax and stimulate what I have outlined above. While this was taking place the practitioner also took the chance to look at a couple of other niggles I have going on too – no time wasted at all and definitely value for your money!
Following this treatment we turned to cupping. Most of you by now will have seen the unsightly bruises associated with this form of treatment, but I thought the experience and results were great- bruising be damned. Cupping creates huge amounts of pressure over certain areas of the body which are in need of increased circulation, removal of waste products, reduction of pain or relaxing of muscle spasms.
The cupping treatment lasts roughly 10 minutes and apart from the slightly odd sensation when the first cup was put on, I thought it felt great and I truly enjoyed it. Leaving the appointment I felt brilliant, my back felt loose and mobile. Admittedly, I was a little apprehensive about how long the feeling would last (due to all my past attempts at relieving my issue), however it’s now been three weeks and I’m still feeling great- I’ve even booked in for a follow-up appointment which I am very much looking forward to.
What can we take away from this?
Both acupuncture and cupping techniques have stood the test of time in the health and fitness world. Of course, they are not needed for everyone, but it’s helped me a lot and it’s definitely worth a try whether you are a regular in your local sports massage clinic or someone who has never been to a physical therapy session before. Also, there are many other interventions which are brilliant but this one may be the new stimulus your body has been looking for. You never know, I may one day take it upon myself to learn these techniques and use them in my practice.
Important note – although may people perceive these treatments to be painful, I actually felt no pain at all. The bruising from the cupping is purely from blood being drawn to the skin and therefore is not painful at all due to no tissue damage being done. Relax, take the plunge and try it, it may be just what you need.