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Improve your posture in One Simple Step

Improve your posture in One Simple Step

Want to improve your posture quickly, for free, with almost zero effort? I recently did it. So can you. I was introduced to this magic bullet by an acupuncturist, and I have an acupuncture theory on why it’s so beneficial, but getting acupuncture is not required. This solution to better posture is something you can do completely on your own, anywhere, anytime, without ever opening your wallet. You don’t even have to get up from the couch.

The DIY solution to better posture

Turn up your palms. That’s it.

As in the picture above, whenever you’re doing something that does not require use of your hands, turn them so that they’re palm-side up. You also can do it while standing or walking. This palms-up position may be familiar to committed meditators and yogis who practice shavasana, but it’s foreign to those of us who spend a lot of time at a computer, behind the wheel of a car, holding babies, making lattes, or doing pretty much anything else that requires constant hand use. Even when we’re not using our hands, it’s just habit to sit, walk or stand with our hands facing down or behind us.

Because we’re so unaccustomed to the palms-up position, when we assume it, the effects are felt immediately. There’s a sense of momentum carrying the upper body backward opposed to the hunched forward motion we so naturally fall into. It feels as if someone is gently pulling back on your shoulders.

Try it. If you’re using your hands, stop and rest them against your thighs. Now turn both palms so that they’re facing up toward the ceiling.

First-hand success story: Better posture in under two weeks

I learned this shortcut to better posture while attending a seminar with Japanese acupuncturist Kiiko Matsumoto. Kiiko is known for her eccentric, entertaining teaching style. During lectures, she’ll often diverge from a subject to impart what seems like an irrelevant anecdote. She’s usually halfway through her next thought before you realize the remarkably useful nature of what she just said.

At the recent seminar, Kiiko mentioned this palms-up technique quickly and in passing to illustrate a larger point about the rhomboids, the muscles that connect the scapula with the spine. She started using the technique herself after a friend pointed out that Kiiko was developing poor posture.

I have been trying it out for the past 10 days. Anytime I don’t need my hands, I turn them palm-side up. If I can get away with using one hand—when reading a book, for example, or walking my dog—I’ll turn the other palm up, alternating hands when the one in use gets tired. In less than two weeks, I have seen a marked improvement in my posture. I’ve also noticed a general feeling of more openness in my chest. It feels easier to breathe.

An acupuncture perspective on why we should all give it up for palms-up

This second observation, about palms-up opening the chest area, relates to my acupuncture-related theory on why this technique is so important. In acupuncture, the meridians that run along the inside of the arm, from the chest/underarm to the palm, are Heart, Pericardium and Lung.

These pictures show Heart and Lung. Focus just on the solid black line—the one with the orange dots along it—that’s running down the model’s right arm (ignore the lines on the torso as well as the text surrounding the body). The Pericardium meridian, not shown, runs directly between the two.

Just as in Western medicine, where the the heart and lungs are considered such vital organs, the Heart, Pericardium and Lung meridians are critical in acupuncture.

Heart: breathing, cardiac function, sleep, emotional balance and heatregulation. Pericardium: breathing, blood circulation and upper digestive function. Lung: breathing, immune function, perspiration, body temperature and urination.

Not necessarily stuff you want to mess around with.

Yet our lifestyles force our hands and arms into an almost constant downward/backward position, creating a tendency to slouch forward. This causes us to cave our upper bodies inward, crunching the Heart, Pericardium and Lung meridians.

Allowing these meridians to flow more freely optimizes their ability to perform their respective functions.

While your palms are turned up, try and visualize the meridians that run along the inner arm into the palm. Imagine these meridians stretching and regaining their normal flow as your palms gaze up.

If you commit to this exercise, I guarantee you’ll notice a shift in your posture. And if my theory is correct, you may notice improvements beyond just sitting up straighter.

You can start right now. Just flip your palms toward the ceiling.

From Acutake- By Sara Calabro

DO ACUPUNCTURE NEEDLES HURT?

Many patients ask if acupuncture needles hurt when inserted into the body. This inquiry is relevant and common to almost everybody interested in getting an acupuncture treatment. We felt it was important to take some time to provide information about acupuncture needles and how they feel when used by a licensed acupuncturist.

What are acupuncture needles made out of?
Modern acupuncture needles are made out of stainless steel and come in various lengths and gauges of width. Acupuncture needles have a stainless steel shaft, with a handle made out of copper, steel or plastic.

How thick are acupuncture needles?
Needle thickness is a something many patients are curious about; there is a belief that the thicker the needle the more potential for pain. The thickness of the needle used for treatment depends on a variety of conditions ranging from the acupuncturist’s preference to the specific ailment being treated.

Acupuncture needles are solid with a fine point, unlike hypodermic needles that are hollow and primarily used for intramuscular injections or for drawing blood. Hypodermic needles have a sharp cutting-edge point, something that acupuncture needles do not have. A helpful comparison is that most acupuncture needles are so thin that you can fit about 10 of them inside the shaft of a hypodermic needle.

Who is allowed to use acupuncture needles?
While it is true that acupuncture needles can be purchased by people other than acupuncturists, it is strongly advised that you only allow a licensed acupuncturist to needle you. Please note that chiropractors, naturopaths and physical therapists are not licensed acupuncturists. They may perform acupuncture (or “dry needling”) but in reality acupuncture is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine that is performed by licensed acupuncturists who have extensive and thorough training.  A licensed acupuncturist has attended acupuncture school, has a master’s degree, a  professional license and is required to have thousands of hours of training.

Do acupuncture needles hurt?
When patients receive an acupuncture treatment for the first time they often report having a variety of sensations. Some people describe feeling a dull ache, a tingling or pulsating sensation or experience nothing at all. There are other people who state that they feel a small pinch when the needle is inserted but the sensation dissipates quickly.

Very rarely will a patient report feeling any pain after a needle is inserted; if so, it will quickly be removed. Pain isn’t something that should be felt or elicited, in fact a common reason acupuncture needles are used in the body is to alleviate pain. What is more common is that patients will state that they will feel some discomfort after being needled but after they settle in and relax the sensation soon passes.

If you’ve been thinking about getting acupuncture but have been worried about whether or not it hurts, we hope that this blog post helped to alleviate some of those fears. If you have any questions or concerns please contact our clinic at your convenience.

Written  by Paul Kerzner

 

 

Have you heard of Gua Sha

Have You Heard of Gua Sha?

 Gua sha is one of several non-needle tools in an acupuncturist’s arsenal. It’s often used in combination with needles, but gua sha is a therapy in its own right. Gua sha is an East-Asian technique of scraping or stroking the skin using a device made of metal, bone, or horn. The scraping can be done on various parts of the body, and most often it’s done on the back and neck.

Here are answers to some commons questions about gua sha.

 What can gua sha help with?                                                                                              Gua sha can help with pain, inflammation, symptoms of cold, flu, asthma, nausea, and vomiting. It also boosts the immune system. If you come down with a cold or flu, be sure to see your acupuncturist right away for acupuncture and gua sha! Dr. Arya Nielsen, who is considered to be the Western authority on gua sha, says it is good for “any chronic disorder involving pain or inflammation.”

 Why do people get marks from gua sha?                                                                        

It’s important to know that the marks made by gua sha are not bruises.  The sha part of gua sha refers to red or purple dots that appear on the skin after it is scraped. The dots are blood being released from blood vessels in the innermost layer of the skin. A trained acupuncturist will do gua sha until reddish dots start to appear. Once the dots come up, they’ll move to a different area. The color of the marks gives a lot of information. Purplish dots indicate a higher degree of blood stagnation in the body. Stagnation commonly causes pain, so often, people who come to acupuncture complaining of severe pain end up with purple dots from gua sha. If the color of the dots is a bright red, it may represent heat in the body. If dots come up easily, it means that the disease is acute. If it takes a long time for the dots to show, it means the disease is more chronic. The marks from gua sha treatments usually disappear within a few days.

 What does gua sha feel like?                                                                                                 Gua sha, when done by a properly trained acupuncturist, is not painful. In fact, many people say gua sha treatments feel like getting a massage. You may experience symptom relief in as little as one treatment. Cold symptoms are especially responsive to gua sha. With longstanding pain or illness, it may take several treatments to feel a change—just like with acupuncture treatments.

From Acutake website (Denise Cicuto)