When I was little (we're talking pre-elementary school age), my grandparents were my babysitters. I remember climbing into my Grandpa's truck and going with them to my Grandpa's acupuncture appointment. I didn't understand what "acupuncture" was. When asked I was told that it was "when they stick needles into you." The only thing I could comprehend about that explanation was that it was like getting a bunch of shots all over your body. (Still) Being extremely fearful of shots, I shunned the practice.
But after weeks of slow progress with physical therapy, my physical therapist suggested I consider exploring it as a complimenting treatment to PT.
I was at the point where I was willing to try anything to heal faster.
Although I really didn't know anything about acupuncture other than the aforementioned story, I was all for it.
Last night during my 8th treatment session I finally asked my acupuncturist to explain what the "Qi" and "Meridians" are. (These are terms she frequently referred to, and I also have heard my massage therapist and yoga teachers refer to them.) She laughed and told me that there wasn't enough hours in the day, but summed it up in a visual analogy:
• "Qi" is the energy that flows through our bodies. • "Meridians" are channels in which "Qi" flows - like highways. • When our "Qi" is disrupted it can manifest itself in stress, aches, pains, disease -- an imbalance -- like an accident or traffic on a highway. • The acupuncture needles are inserted into specific points along meridians that often are near what western medicine refers to as "trigger points." • The needles' job is to clear up the "traffic" (like CalTrans) and return balance to the Qi.
This is probably a very highly generalized explanation of a centuries old practice but gave me a better understanding of it. But I already knew everything that I needed to know -- that IT WORKS.
Ever since I started acupuncture, it has worked beautifully in conjunction with physical therapy.
With each treatment I have experienced less pain in my injured areas (Knee/IT Band and Piriformis), and almost no more foot numbness. My recovery time after runs has shortened considerably.
I have also had additional unexpected benefits.
As part of my treatment I've also been taking Chinese herbs that help to regulate digestion, stress, tension, fatigue, anxiety, sleep, etc.
All things that I struggle with, not just during marathon training, but in life in general.
I truly believe that my acupuncture treatments are helping me to manage not just the stress of marathon training but all the curveballs that life seems to be throwing my way lately.
I am really fortunate that my PT, who is trained in Western medicine, was open-minded enough to believe that Eastern medicine could help me, because it sure has. Now I get why my Grandpa thought it was a good thing to get “needles stuck in me.” And like him, now I’m a believer too.