acupuncture, self care

5 Self Care Tips for Winter

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) teaches that humans should live in harmony with the seasons. According to TCM, there are five seasons: winter, spring, summer, late summer, and fall. Each season has many associations that help us change our habits, allowing for a more balanced mind and body. When these systems were being developed, people were living in harmony with nature. People rose with the sun, ate what was available during the different seasons, and were much more aware of their natural environment. What to wear, when to wake up, when to go to sleep, and what activities to engage in were all dependent on the weather and the environment. Because of this, people were capable of staying healthy throughout the year and their immune and organ systems were strong enough to ward off disease. Here are 5 tips to help you live in harmony with the season!

1. Get some rest

In TCM, the season of winter is a time of repair and rejuvenation. Rest is important for revitalizing the body’s fundamental energies. This is why some animals hibernate during the winter months. We should also spend more time resting during the winter months to help prepare our bodies for the months ahead when most people expend more energy.

2. Incorporate self reflection

Winter is a really good time to turn inward and do some reflection. Practices like tai chi, qi gong, and yoga can be very beneficial during the winter season. These practices help us connect to our inner selves. They also help relax the mind and calm our emotions. Things like journaling and meditation are other ways of reflecting during the winter months. Long term, these practices can be very helpful at extending a person’s life.

3. Drink water, lots of water

Water is a fundamental necessity for our bodies. In the winter time, water is especially important to support our immune systems and help the body flush out toxins. It is important to remember to drink lots of water during wintertime, even in the colder months. Drinking warm water or herbal teas can be a great way to incorporate in more fluids. However, caffeinated or sugary beverages should not be substituted for water.    

4. Eat warm, seasonal foods

Choose foods that grow naturally during the winter. Items such as squash, potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, root vegetables like beets, greens, carrots, mushrooms, apples, pears, and cabbage are great. During the winter months, cold foods like salads and raw foods should be avoided as they can be harsh on digestion and the immune system. Focus on eating warmer, easy to digest foods to support a healthy system such as soups, stews, congees, and cooked vegetables.

5. Treat yourself to some TCM

Traditional Chinese Medicine utilizes numerous modalities and tools to help keep the body balanced and prepped for the seasonal changes. Acupuncture and moxibustion are two of the tools that are regularly used in the winter months to support a healthy system. Moxibustion is a practice where dried mugwort is burned near the skin to warm the body. There are certain acupuncture points that applying moxibustion to can boost immunity and digestion as well as help with different aches and pains that may worsen with the colder weather.

When we align ourselves with the natural processes of life and the seasons, our bodies will adjust and perform optimally, just as they are intended to.

Acupuncture for pain relief

Plantar Fasciitis

Welcome to flip flop season! It’s finally summer!

It may feel good to finally slip on those flip flops or sandals, but these types of foot wear can be tough on our feet. Sandals tend to lack the good support and cushion that our feet need, which can result in plantar fasciitis or other aches and pains in our feet.

What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a common condition affecting the feet. Inflammation of the fascia in the bottoms of the feet lead to pain. The pain can been in both feet or in just one. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including overuse, overweight, poor footwear, and tight calf muscles.

How can acupuncture help?
Acupuncture is great to:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Increase circulation
  • Relax tight fascia or muscles

With less inflammation, increased circulation, and the relaxation of tight muscles, the area has a chance to heal and is given relief from pain.

What else can I do?
In addition to acupuncture, it is important to make some other changes. Some things to try at home include:

  1. Getting new shoes: invest in some new shoes or shoe inserts to provide your feet with good support. Shoes that are worn daily should be replaced about every 6 months.
  2. Stretching: focus on stretching tight calf muscles as well as the bottoms of the feet.
  3. Contrast therapy: alternate heat and ice on the feet. This can be done a number of ways. Try setting up 2 basins of water, one with cooler water and the other with warm water. Place feet in the warmer water for about 3 minutes, then switch to cooler water for about 30 seconds. Repeat the cycle about 3 times. This can be done daily or even multiple times per day.

Acupuncture vs. Dry Needling – What’s The Difference?

Dry needling is increasing in popularity. In 2016, dry needling by physical therapist in Montana became legal. So, more and more, I come across individuals confused about the difference between acupuncture and dry needling.

Here’s the difference:

Training:
Acupuncture is performed by licensed acupuncturists with a minimum of 3 years of training and at least a Master’s level education. Training includes Eastern philosophy and sciences as well as Western sciences like anatomy and physiology, microbiology, and Western clinical sciences. In addition, acupuncturist typically graduate with 1,000 hours of clinical training treating patients with acupuncture.
Dry needling is performed by physical therapists or other health care practitioners. Typically, these individuals are also highly trained and educated in their field. However, the training in regards to needling usually comes from a weekend course.

Treatment:
Acupuncture aims to treat the whole person, creating balance in the body so it can function optimally, heal, and repair. Acupuncture targets symptoms like pain, digestive issues, or fertility while also improving the overall function of the body. Treatment takes into account the person’s overall constitution from an Eastern perspective while also considering related structure, musculature, Western diagnoses, and neuroanatomy.
Dry needling focuses on pain conditions by releasing tight muscles. Treatments typically revolve around releasing trigger points that may be contributing to pain. Many patients experience soreness for a few days after treatment due to the focus on trigger point release.

Here’s the similarities:

Both use thin, filiform needles to encourage change in the body.
Both are based on science and backed by research.

Acupuncturists can work hand in hand with other healthcare providers such as physical therapists, chiropractors, MDs, PAs, and NPs in order to create an integrated treatment plan. Each practitioner can focus on their specialty, while providing optimal outcomes and results for patients.

cupping for tight muscles, acupuncture for pain relief, acupuncture clinic in billings montana

Cupping

What’s all this buzz about cupping?
Cupping is all the buzz right now, but why are so many athletes using it? Because it works, and not just for athletes! Cupping works by:

  • Stretching tight muscles and fascia
  • Promoting detoxification
  • Stimulating the immune system

What is cupping used for?
By stretching the tissues, promoting the movement of blood and lymph through the tissues, and activating the immune system cupping can relieve pain of all sorts.

  • Shoulder pain
  • Back pain
  • Tight glutes and hamstrings
  • Adhered IT bands
  • Stiff calf muscles

But what are those marks?
Cupping marks result from blood and cell debris moving towards the skin’s surface. The discoloration usually dissipates within a few days depending on the person. Gnarly cupping marks aren’t the only result of a cupping session – other benefits include increased circulation, reduced pain, increased range of motion, and relaxed muscles.

What Can Acupuncture Treat?

Most people think of acupuncture for pain relief. Acupuncture proves effective at treating all kinds of pain, but it can treat so much more!

The World Health Organization, or WHO, recognizes acupuncture as an effective treatment for 28 conditions including adverse reactions to radiation or chemotherapy, allergic rhinitis, depression, dysmenorrhea, epigastric pain, facial pain, headache, hypertension, hypotension, knee pain, leukopenia, low back pain, morning sickness, nausea and vomiting, neck pain, rheumatoid arthritis, sciatica, and stroke. WHO acknowledges the effectiveness of acupuncture in these conditions after thorough evaluation of numerous controlled trials. WHO recognized the benefit of acupuncture in over 63 other conditions but requires additional clinical trials to be conducted to prove the effectiveness of treatment.

Remember acupuncture for your aches and pains, but keep in mind the wide variety of ways acupuncture can help you with your overall health! If you have questions about the use of acupuncture for your health concerns, please contact the office or an acupuncturist near you.

http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/mpacms/at/article.php?id=29001