Your acupuncturist works hard to give you the best treatment possible, and chances are you’re paying a good bit for his or her care. What if there were things you could do to help make sure you get the most bang for your buck? Well, there are! Here are my top five recommendations for things YOU can do to get the most benefit from your acupuncture treatment.
1) Eat a light meal or snack an hour or so before your treatment, but don’t eat a huge meal right before. Acupuncture stimulates your nervous system. If your belly is too full, your body’s energy will be focused on digestion rather than on absorbing the treatment. You may find yourself feeling bloated, gassy, or queasy during your treatment if you’ve eaten too much. On the other hand, if you haven’t eaten enough low blood sugar can lead you to feeling faint or queasy during your treatment. It is best to eat a light meal an hour or two before seeing your acupuncturist so your body has had a chance to digest and your blood sugar is stable.
2) Wear loose fitting clothing which allows easy access to your arms and legs. While many acupuncture offices are equipped to provide appropriate draping if it is necessary to remove clothing to access points, it is most time efficient and easiest if you remain in your clothes. The majority of acupuncture points used are on the arms, legs, abdomen, or back. Loose fitting comfortable clothing allows you to rest comfortably on the table during your treatment and allows your acupuncturist to access most points without removing your clothes.
3) Leave some time before your next activity. It is common to feel very relaxed and even a little bit spacey immediately after an acupuncture treatment. Leave yourself enough time to be grounded before you need to drive. Your body will absorb the benefits of your treatment and results will last longer if you avoid rushing straight into the next thing. Give yourself a chance to enjoy that acupuncture buzz!
4) Avoid hard workouts following your treatment. Acupuncture affects the way your body processes signals from your brain, especially where pain receptors are concerned. If you are being treated for back pain and leave your treatment feeling better, your brain and your back are communicating differently from when you walked in and the effect can last for at least 24 hours. The feedback loop between the tissue in your back and the pain centers in the brain is altered, which means you may not feel it if you are hurting yourself. If you MUST workout following a treatment make sure you are deliberate about keeping your effort at 70% or less. Otherwise, you may find you’ve undone all the benefits you’re looking for!
5) Give your acupuncturist feedback. Are you too warm or too cold to relax? Is one of those needles uncomfortable enough that you just can’t let go? Are you concerned that one or more of your complaints is not being addressed during your treatment? Let your practitioner know. Your acupuncturist is not perfect and it is possible that she or he will miss something. Rather than letting irritation spoil your experience, speak up and address your concerns. Sometimes, discomfort from a needle is therapeutic and necessary to the success of your treatment, but often it is an indicator that a needle is irritating a surface nerve and a minor adjustment to the position will leave you more comfortable AND improve the effectiveness of the point. No matter how temperate a treatment room is, you may want it warmer or cooler than other people. Most treatment rooms have the option of opening a window or turning on a fan to make it cooler or adding a blanket or space heater to make it warmer. Sometimes the points chosen really do address all of your concerns, but are not on the part of the body which is bugging you so it isn’t obvious, and sometimes a complaint is deliberately not addressed directly because your acupuncturist thinks it will resolve on its own if another issue is fixed. All of these things are easily fixed if you simply communicate with your acupuncturist.
Next time you head in to see your acupuncturist, make sure you take the time to try some or all of these suggestions. Your acupuncturist AND your body will thank you!