My first experience of acupuncture and cupping31 March 2017
When I discovered that one of my oldest friends had recently qualified as an acupuncturist I was very interested in learning more about the practice. For several months I've been meaning to go to her clinic to try and solve some of my issues such as lower back pain and low energy, but recently with the added stress and anxiety of my personal situation I knew it was the perfect time to try it.
img credit: byrdie.co.uk via etsy
Acupuncture is a component of Chinese Medicine that can help with a wide range of illnesses and conditions, from chronic pain, migraines, infertility and stress and anxiety. I had no idea it was so deeply rooted in Chinese Medicine and thought it was just something had to target sore muscles or chronic pain, so I was fascinated to find out more and experience it myself.
When I arrived at the clinic we started off with a consultation where we talked at length about a variety of areas such as my sleep patterns, eating habits, medication, energy levels and how I feel on a day to day basis. As my friend knows me well she was able to connect a lot of this to the five Chinese elements - mine being water - which indicates certain temperaments, moods and illnesses and helps an acupuncturist decide on treatment. My 'water' type means I can sometimes be fearful and anxious, hard and detached. Water types typically suffer from lower back pain, tiredness and kidney and bladder issues.
Acupuncture works by inserting tiny, thin needles into specific channels on the meridians of the body that are linked to our different organs. My friend started by putting needles into my feet and ankles - I was actually quite nervous at first but I was quickly reassured when it didn't hurt at all. It was actually an odd sensation - even though the needles were just placed into the surface of the skin, it was a very deep feeling of relaxation that felt as if something stirred from far below the surface. She also then placed needles into my hands, forehead and ears. Each needle she added intensified the feeling of release and relaxation. For most of it I kept my eyes closed and it was almost a meditative experience - added to by the soft, calming music and the aromatherapy oils being gently steamed into the room.
One of the things I wasn't expecting is that my friend then added something onto the end of the needle which could be lit, and set the needles on fire! (This is called Moxibustion). This produced a warm sensation that radiated all throughout my legs and felt even more relaxing. It was like the warmth was flowing all through my body.
She then took the needles out and I rolled over onto my front for the next bit of the treatment. I've been getting a lot of tension in my shoulders, with frequent neck pain and headaches over the last few weeks. She advised that 'cupping' would be a good way to stimulate the blood flow, release toxins, increase circulation and improve my energy levels. She placed cups with suction at the ends on the shoulders and upper back, and 'clicked' them to increase the suction. The skin is then drawn into the cup - the ones on my shoulders were slightly sore but all the rest felt fine and it was a really odd experience! My neck has been clicking a lot and feeling very strained and sore and my friend advised that the cupping should completely eradicate that.
The whole session with the consultation included lasted around 1.5 hours and I left feeling very relaxed and a little tired, which is apparently very natural. Since my session I've definitely noticed myself feeling less anxious and stressed and my whole body feels less tense and somehow 'looser'. I also noticed that my mobility and flexibility in my yoga class and at the gym the next day were much improved. Although I'm still struggling with my sleep (I've been waking in the night and finding it difficult to get back to sleep) I'm finding this is getting better every day.
I'm booked in for my next appointment on Tuesday and I'm hoping to have acupuncture and cupping at least every two weeks for the time being as I can see that it would yield a huge improvement in my stress levels and the tension, neck and back ache I've experienced. I'm really looking forward to seeing the long-term results and am already excited for my next session.
Have you ever tried acupuncture?