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Optimizing Wellness

by Anne Gordon

Optimizing Wellness, Atha Wellness in Kirkland, WA

After acupuncture appointments, many of my patients want to know -- OK, now what??  What they mean is "now that I've come to you how can I continue self-care at home between appointments? "

What you do  between appointments is an essential element of the success of your treatment. This is especially true at the beginning of the process, when the gains made during each session are still fragile and easily lost if you over-stress your body or fail to support its recovery.  Below are some suggestions of how you can support the treatment process to accelerate healing:

Making sure your body has lots of quality nutrients to work with while healing is essential. Hydration is another important component and can be especially important with muscular-skeletal problems that may involve dehydrated fascial tissue. In cases were there is lots of inflammation in the body, it may be necessary to cut out sugar, alcohol and other inflammation-generating foods. When treating internal medicine conditions, there are often very specific TCM diet guidelines that will support your healing, and I will advise you on these when appropriate.

Chinese herbal therapy comes from a rich history, with a depth and detail of accumulated knowledge and application within a sophisticated medical system. Formulas are made from whole plant parts, not isolated chemicals, and as such are less harsh than modern pharmaceuticals. Chinese herbal therapy is especially important when overcoming long-standing health problems and will accelerate healing. Herbs can also be used to maintain health, or deal with short-lived acute problems such as colds and flu’s.

When treating muscular-skeletal problems, topicals such as liniments, oils and patches can be used to increase local circulation and reduce pain. Combined with self-massage or working on acupressure points (which I'll show you when appropriate), they can help speed up recovery.

Any tools for reducing stress, whether through tai qi, yoga, meditation or breathing and visualization techniques should be employed to speed recovery. These techniques help settle the nervous system and improve circulation, both of which are beneficial for healing.

Finding the type of exercise that will support your healing is just as important as exercise itself. When you are on a journey of healing, it may be wise to use gentle exercise like yoga, walking or tai qi so as not to divert your bodies resources to building muscle or stamina but rather use it for accelerating healing. This is especially true if you are recovering from a debilitating illness or trying to overcome fatigue and exhaustion.

If you are receiving treatment for a muscular-skeletal problem it may be wise to err on the side of caution for a while. The old saying "no pain, no gain" my be correct for atrophied muscles, but absolutely does not apply for injured, compromised tissue. Pain is a sign of injury and you can't exercise your way out of an injury (just as you can't walk your way out of a sprained ankle). Being too aggressive with exercise can squander the gains made during treatment.

A good rule of thumb is to avoid anything that makes the problem act up in favor for anything that makes it feel better. Being extra careful is only a temporary precaution and once you have recovered, you will be able to go back to your usual exercise routine.

Yours in health -


Kirkland, Wa