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What Should I Do After Acupuncture?

Recently I visited my acupuncturist 

to get help with some frustrating 

symptoms I was experiencing. Getting treatment is certainly something I should do more often, but like many of us, my own well-being can be far down a long list of priorities when running a business and having a family.


At the end of the treatment, she advised me to have a healthy bite for lunch and then relax for the rest of the day. It was so confronting that it took a minute to process it! I mean, of course, she is right, I tell my clients to do the same! I truly wanted to do what she advised, but what did I do after acupuncture? I did what most of us do... I grabbed a quick bite and then went to work for the rest of the day. I wish I could tell you this was a one-off, but it wasn't.


The experience made me reflect on how I talk to my clients about what they should do and expect after their appointments. If I could lead their lives for them, no doubt they would be well-nourished and relaxed. But alas I cannot, so just like me, it is more likely they will go off and take care of their other responsibilities. 


In this vein, I'd like to share a few things about your treatment:


  • One of the primary drivers for why acupuncture works is that it puts the body into a parasympathetic state. This means it gets you out of survival mode and into a state of relaxation. I tell all of my clients that calming their nervous system is my main priority because so much can be resolved by doing this simple thing. The longer you stay in that state, the more time your body and your symptoms have time to sort themselves out. I'll share a couple of examples: Take an acutely injured muscle. Often a client will experience an injury, and then use or hold their body differently to compensate for that injury. A parasympathetic state allows the space to relax the tense muscles that are compensating for the injury, allowing for qi and blood to flow and resolve the associated acute pain. Or, say a client is using acupuncture to relieve anxiety. After treatment their calm body now has free flowing blood to the brain and body, giving it the ability to make the next right move or decision with a calm, clear head.

  • Chinese medicine is slow medicine. It is not reductive and it does not target symptoms like allopathic medicine. It can certainly help to resolve symptoms, but that is because it targets why you are experiencing the symptoms in the first place. A great example of this is a classic headache. Surely we can reduce the intensity of a headache while you are on the table, but ideally and over time we are resolving the reason you are getting headaches in the first place.

  • Acupuncture is cumulative. It's not often that we see simple, acute conditions in clinic. Usually, by the time you see your acupuncturist you have been suffering from something for a while. For this reason, it may a while to treat it. Be patient. The more acupuncture you have, the longer you will feel the benefit. My goal is to get you feeling so good that you come and see me once a month or even less! I've done well when you come in for just a tune-up or because you just love the way it makes you feel.

  • The advice of getting good rest and prioritising yourself is always going to be appropriate. Even though our culture wants us to get everything done in the shortest amount of time possible, prioritising your health and well-being will ensure that you can go the distance. 

  • Right after treatment... don't go to the gym and do a rigorous workout. Don't go on a bender. Don't eat a rich, greasy, or spicy meal. This isn't to say that you can't go for a jog, or meet up with friends to celebrate something, it just means look after yourself and don't overdo it.



After your treatments, I am always going to tell you to get good rest, prioritise yourself, and drink warm water. I am also going to invite you to get quiet with yourself and notice how good you feel when you can do this after a session. Most importantly though, I am going to recognise that you won't be able to do this every time and still the needles are going to do their work to regulate you when you can't.




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