traditional chinese medicine

If you follow me on instagram, you probably already know I’m having issues with my back at the moment. I have managed to quite badly sprain some ligaments in the top of my back/right shoulder. At first I was unsure how I had done this to myself, but then in talking with the physio I realized that I did it at the gym on Thursday morning while trying to push myself further in my abdominal exercises. I always do russian twists (side to sides with a medicine ball) but I felt like it was getting too easy for me and so my trainer took it to another level and started throwing the medicine ball to me as I twisted and then threw it back to him. In doing this I managed to damage the area that holds the muscles and ligaments responsible for twisting and turning. That night it felt as though my ribs were stabbing into my lungs with every breath I tried to take and left the whole upper right side of my spine, back and shoulders in agony. Id hoped that by the next morning it would have gone away, but sadly it was still there when I awoke. I was supposed to work from 9-6 that day but instead spent it immobilized in bed with heat packs and hot water bottles (which I then managed to burn my back on!) and a trip to the physio. She recommended taking it easy but said I could be back to normal in the gym in about a weeks time. However this morning (Saturday) it was still very sore and sensitive to move and I had a 6 hour shift to get through starting at 9 am, I set myself up with a permanent heat pack attached to my injury settled in for a day at the reception desk.

I work at an integrative medical clinic (extremely handy) and in passing this morning I explained to our Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner what I had done to my back. He immediately offered to take a look at it when he was finished with patients for the day, and I am so incredibly grateful for this. This was my first ever experience with Chinese medicine and I found it incredibly interesting. He took a look at my injury and decided to perform some acupuncture and cupping on my back. Within about 5 minutes of merely feeling my back and taking my pulse I felt like he already knew more about me than most people, it was like he could ready my body like a book and it told him everything he needed to know. Simply from the way my muscles and nerves responded to his needles he could tell that a) I always have cold hand and feet b) I’m not drinking enough water c) I have trouble sleeping and d) that I worry and stress far too much, verging on anxiety.. all without me saying a word and all true! When he asked me if I wanted to try the acupuncture I was so up for it and ready to try something new.. but then about 30 seconds before he put the first needle in I had an mini internal freak out when I remembered I don’t actually like needles..!! but to all of you out there with the same, not so irrational, fear I am glad to say that it actually wasn’t bad, or painful, as a matter of fact in some areas I couldn’t even feel the needle was there. I found that although I was trying to relax during the process I couldn’t help myself from asking questions and being genuinely intrigued by the whole practice. It was amazing to me that he did things like place a need in my ear to help me sleep, and didn’t actually do any acupuncture directly onto my injury. He really accessed my whole body with needles everywhere from my neck, wrists and right down to my ankles.

Next came the Chinese cupping, one of the oddest sensations I have experienced. Try to imagine twenty little mouths all sucking on your back (sounds weird I know but bare with me) and then triple that feeling and leave it there for about 10-15 minutes.. the end result (as pictured above) is these circular shaped bruises which I have had compared to extreme hickies, hence the mouth analogy. Now he did warn me that I would bruise and it generally lasts a couple of days for most people.. but I’m not most people and have hyper sensitive skin, so I fully expect to have these marks on my back for well over a week. Its worth it though, he said that it may take a day or so for me to start to feel the effects of the treatment, but even minutes after if felt more mobile and that my muscles had relaxed. If you get the opportunity to do so, I would highly recommend trying traditional Chinese medicine and all the ancient and effect techniques it has to offer. It was an amazing new experience and I would definitely do it again.

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