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Self care between acupuncture treatments

by Stacey Kaplan LAc, LMT

"So, now what?" is a common concern after an acupuncture treatment. During a session things can shift profoundly in many different ways and we are sometimes left wondering what the best way to keep the healing going is. As part of an ongoing series, How To Care For Your Injuries; let's discuss how best to care for ourselves between acupuncture treatments.

Here are some suggestions for what to do post-treatment and between treatments.

In the hours directly following an acupuncture treatment:

Drink plenty of water.
Eat warm, nutritious food.
Avoid carrying heavy bags, especially on one shoulder. This is especially important when being treated for back, neck, shoulder pain and headaches.
Try to take it easy; do not work-out directly after a treatment and try not to do any big heavy lifting or excessive standing.
Do pay attention to any changes that happen post-treatment. This can include; increased range of motion, decreased pain level or frequency of pain, postural ease (feeling like it doesn't take as much effort to hold correct posture), an overall sense of well being, better sleep, things like that. How long do these sensations last for you?
Use some heat on any soreness that comes up. This can mean using a heat pad, hot shower, warm bath. Unless an area is already inflamed (hot, painful to light touch, swollen), heat will keep things moving and reduce soreness.
Walking, without heavy bags, can help your body integrate and adjust to any changes that happened in the session.

In the time between treatments:

Drink plenty of water.
Stay away from processed foods.
Resume any physical activity that is part of your daily life. Walking is always great.
Keep up with any corrective exercises and lifestyle changes we discussed in treatment.
Use heat with sore, tired muscles.
Get lots of sleep.
Make sure you are breathing deeply into your belly throughout the day.
Stretch a little before bed and take your big joints (neck, shoulders, hips, knees, ankles) through their range of motion upon waking.
Take breaks throughout the day when you are at a computer; close tour eyes, move your neck and shoulders around, take a walk around the office.

Keep each treatment going by listening to your body and taking care of it, no matter how long it is between sessions. Our body will tell us what it needs. We just need to cultivate ways to listen to it and incorporate self care into our daily lives. 

Whatever your injury, Chinese medicine advocates immediate treatment. Treat minor problems promptly and they are much less likely to develop into larger, chronic conditions.