Monday, January 18, 2016

Do you use massage therapy in your acupuncture practice?

So little time...so many things to do in one treatment, right? I love to use massage therapy during, before, after, or all three along with acumoxa therapy treatments though there is often little time for it. Still, I have a few basics to share with you about how I work massage into my treatments since I think the power of touch can never be overestimated.
Here are a few ideas that I use regularly with my patients.

1. Rocking the body from the occipital ridge. This move can be used as long as you don't have needles in the head and the person is lying supine. Standing above the patient's head, place the fingers of both your hands (back of your hands on the table, fingers curled up) under the back of the head with the finger tips pressing lightly along the occipital ridge. Rock your fingers slightly toward yourself, as if you were beckoning someone toward you. This can be very gentle and small or it can be more forceful depending upon the patient's condition, how many needles you have in, and where they are placed. You will notice that this small movement will move the entire body down to the toes.

From a Western medical point of view, this moves the cerebral-spinal fluid, slightly stimulates the entire spine, relaxes the eyes, and increases blood circulation to the brain. It also relaxes the musculo-skeletal attachments along the base of the skull.

From a Chinese medical point of view it encourages increased flow of qi and blood to and from the brain via the foot tai yang and foot shao yang channels, and quiets and spirit.

30-60 seconds is adequate.

2. Dragging and pulling the toes. As long as there are no needles in the feet, this is a very easy thing to do and really grounding and relaxing to the patient. Remembering that all the foot yin and yang channels can be strongly accessed at the toes, releasing them in this way is usually appreciated unless the person is very ticklish!

Using your thumb and index finger, firmly and slowly pull each toe from its root to its tip. Take your time with this, sliding your fingers in between the toes. If you like, you can use a soft cloth to help you hold the toes and limit the tendency to ticklishness. This also is nice if it is summertime and people's feet are somewhat sweaty.

We are effectively opening all the foot channels (all the way to eyes, face, and chest) and releasing or relaxing the flow of qi with this movement. Be careful not to move the legs too much if you have needles there. Gentle but firm touch makes this powerfully relaxing.

If there are no needles in the arms, you can do the same thing with the fingers. Or, if you do have needles in the arms or feet, you can add this movement at the end of the needle portion of your treatment.

If you would like to see video of me doing these movements or if you have an interest in seriously combining acupuncture with bodywork, you might take a look at my short online video course on this subject, in which I share an entire approach to this type of work. All the Blue Poppy online courses are 30% off this month. I guarantee that 99% of your patients will love it!

Good luck and remember the power of body work in the context of your treatments.

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