Since I exercise regularly I’ve been trying to be diligent about getting massages because while it’s relaxing to get them sporadically, for them to actually be effective there’s no way around the fact that you need to get them regularly (plus I’m a hypochondriac so I’m always worried about the “health” of my knees, back, neck…!). After speaking with a friend whose day job entails working with spas I decided to give acupuncture and cupping
a try for a change from the deep tissue I’d otherwise opt for. While I’ve always heard that you need multiple sessions for the treatments to be effective — and needles scare me to no end — she told me that while a series is ideal the effects of just one treatment are far beyond what even the best deep tissue massage could achieve. High expectations set! With that in mind I headed to Exhale Spa — home to Core Fusion.
The 60 minute treatment was done by an incredibly sweet woman who has a four year Masters degree in acupuncture/Eastern medicine. We first spoke about why I was there and she then looked at my tongue and took my pulse before asking me if I ate mostly raw foods and very little red meat. Woah!!! How in the world did she know this? She was dead on and it brought to light the fact that I am ALWAYS cold. Jump to find out what I was told to do to warm up my blood, strengthen my back, and more on what you can expect if you ever go in for this kind of a treatment.
*Usually if you’re cold it’s because you have poor circulation. Exercise and this should help. Unfortunately I exercise and I’m still cold. Similarly many people say that if you’re skinny you tend to be cold, but while I’m on the thin side, my mother is considerably thinner and always hot so that’s not a sure-fire explanation for my problem either. What I learned at Exhale is that by incorporating spices into my food (cayenne, garlic, cinnamon, ginger…) and by eating a piece of red meat once a week I could “heat” my blood allowing for better circulation and more body heat. I was also told that cooking my vegetables more thoroughly and avoiding raw ones would help. I don’t like spicy foods or intense flavors, but I have been adding a bit of cayenne to my chicken and fish dishes and at least in the short term it sure gets my blood pumping! Hopefully it will improve my blood circulation over the long run as well. I was also told to avoid extreme cold foods, but I pretty much have some ice cream every single day and that’s a love I can’t give up!
*She also suggested eating beets and lentils for optimal digestion and better blood flow.
*Since my acupuncture/cupping session took place at Exhale, the acupuncturist was very well-versed in working out. She suggested that to avoid neck and upper back pains I focus my strength training on strengthening my back (think bent-over rows).
*Often when people workout they tend to pull their shoulders up (this includes weight training, indoor cycling…), remember to push them down to avoid soreness/stiffness.
*Avoid upper body cramping and stiffness by making sure your shoulders are at a 90 degree angle when you’re sitting and your feet are un-crossed and flat on the floor.
*If you sleep on your side, put a pillow between your legs. The ideal sleeping position however is flat on your back.
*When you’re feeling stressed apply some pressure on the area between your eyes. In Eastern Medicine it’s called your third eye and is a calming point.
*As for the acupuncture itself, the needles don’t hurt going in, but if they hit a sensitive spot (for me my right hand), it will hurt a lot — luckily needles can quickly be removed; that said the pain may still linger for a few hours after. The needles are powerful!
*I only did one “cup.” The lightest one was used and even that one was way too painful for me. Literally I was getting cramps from stiffening up from the uncomfortable feeling. Thankfully it was painful though because otherwise I might have let my therapist do more and the cups leave a really nasty mark for about a week (think a huge hickey)!
Overall acupuncture was a positive experience and it did help ease some tensions and it felt more effective than a massage in the days following the treatment. It wasn’t as relaxing as a massage though given the on-going talking and the occasional pain. If you’re stressed, suffering from chronic pain, have headaches, poor digestion, or anything similar however I’d highly suggest giving acupuncture a try. Exhale makes the experience as pleasurable and, from what I can tell effective, as possible.