A few years ago I wiped out in a pretty epic fashion (on the wet tiles in the bathroom) and strained my lower back. I found in the months that followed that I was certainly going to be a victim of chronic back pain. I would execute a series of elaborate stretches each night before bed so I would be comfortable enough to fall asleep. I’d always wake in pain the next morning.
Fast forward to a ridiculous scooter crash on vacation two years later. I had a broken foot to show for that performance. I limped around for months after that–A tragically sore and stiff 26 year old. After flights, long rental car road trips and big days out on my feet, I’d be miserable.
Fast forward again. I took a job shuffling papers at what I later found out to be one of the most prestigious acupuncture clinics in the country. They offered their employees free treatments so, though I was skeptical and quite ignorant of the whole process, I made an appointment.
I was very nervous for my first acupuncture treatment. I’m not particularly scared of needles, but does anyone actually look forward to being pricked? Turns out, these hairsbreadth thin needles are so fine you barely feel them. I laid out on a cushy massage table and braced myself. The first insertion point was going to be my outer ankle. I felt the split second prick, and then nothing. Well, not nothing, but certainly not pain. It felt like pressure, in a nice way.
Dr. Herr, my practitioner, worked his way up my body, tapping needles into my calves, the backs of my knees, my lower back, shoulders and even one between my eyes, (for relaxation, he said).
We had discussed my back pain and his focus was to “release the heat” from the area and “get the Qi moving” (pronounced “chee”). To this I replied, “Ah yes, Qi! Sure thing, Bill Nye the Science Guy, go for it…” with more than a small dose of sarcasm. But soothing music was piped in, the room seemed to get nice and warm, the scent of dried herbs and flowers…
I awoke thirty minutes later to Dr. Herr’s wingtip shoes shuffling softly into the room. I could feel him gently twisting the needles out. As each one was removed I felt a little ache, almost as if the spot wanted it back. A brief but thorough back massage followed and then he told me to relax, even fall back asleep again before getting up to dress.
Once I got used to it, I started affectionately calling the after effects of a treatment “acu-stoned.” The somewhat euphoric, well-rested daze was so pleasant I didn’t even mind the dull ache in my back. Dr. Herr said the pain was good, and that it meant the heat, toxins and strain that had been stored there had been released. Sure enough, the next few days were pain free!
After my next treatment I found the wonderful effects lasted even longer. I no longer needed to “crack” my back before bed and I was waking up well rested and limber. With continued treatments for my back pain, my old broken foot even inexplicably strengthened, and I didn’t feel pain after running or hiking.
And overall, I felt better. Maybe getting that “Qi” moving wasn’t such a crock after all! If acupuncture can make a believer out of me, the world’s biggest klutz/skeptic, it will do wonders for you!
TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) works to ease the pain of both muscular and skeletal injuries, arthritis, fertility issues, cancer and even the common cold! There is nothing these ancient techniques can’t aid, from menstrual cramps to migraines, knee surgery rehab to strep throat! Give it a try and see what dramatic results you get with acupuncture!
Noella Schink is a travel, beauty and health writer from Portland, Maine. She encourages you to try acupuncture for whatever’s ailing you, and also to book your next car rental in the UK from Auto Europe.