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Getting the Most Out of Your Treatment

Updated: Mar 15, 2023

As someone who treats and gets treated, I decided to put together a list of things to consider when going into the treatment room. Whether this is old hat or you're a newcomer to receiving acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, or another form of hands-on therapy, there should be something to glean here for everyone.

Trust your body's ability to heal.

This can be a book in and of itself. The road to healing any condition can vary greatly from one instance to another, one person to another, and even within ourselves at different stages in our life. Acute conditions can bring about impatience. Chronic conditions can demand fortitude and faith in the healing process. Your path may not be a straight line the whole way to wholeness. Expect a step back, plateaus, and doubt that you will ever get better. This is normal, and if I may be so bold to say, the doubt is an illusion. People have healed from the most dire of circumstances. You can heal as well. As one colleague said, "there is a grace to the healing process."

Make sure your practitioner is a good fit.

This is one of the most important points of the article. This can turn someone away from an effective healing modality, but a bad experience can leave a deep mark. This is relevant to any form of medicine but more so as we seek treatment outside the realm of orthodox western medicine. Holistic medicine is not as standardized in the sense that we are looking for a set of data points and then linking you up with an appropriate pharmaceutical drug that will forcibly shift a biological process in the body. The process is nuanced and looks at what the person needs in the moment as well as in the long term. There is also an artistic component. We look at all the little details and paint a picture of what is happening for you. This can include intimate details about your life, which can be extremely relevant to treatment. We then use various tools to help the body shift back to a better state of health.

With this, every practitioner will have a different approach. Maybe this person's approach is not what you need, or more simply, they don't have the appropriate skill set. I know people who've told me they went to an acupuncturist and "it did nothing," or they went to see a therapist and "it didn't help." It may very well be THAT practitioner couldn't help you for whatever reason.

Which brings us to the overall "vibe" you have with the person. Maybe something about the person simply doesn't resonate with you. If something feels off, this can have a big impact on the outcome of treatment. Emotional fluctuations and movements in the body affect our health and can certainly affect what is happening on the treatment table.

Stay connected to your breath.

Your breath is your most powerful health and diagnostic tool. Your breath, mind, and body are intimately linked. In the context of treatment, staying connected to your breath will allow you to release more tension/stress/emotion in the body and bring about a greater change in overall health. This can be the difference between "this treatment didn't do much" and "wow, I feel so different after this treatment". Stay present with the discomfort, feel the body, and allow your breath to do what it needs to do, allow any noise to emote. This also tells you when the manipulation is too much and may cause unnecessary pain and discomfort. Heavier stimulation isn't always better stimulation. Holding in the discomfort/breath isn't going to help the body shift as it needs. You're in treatment to let that stuff go and for the body to find more balance.

Let the practitioner move your body as needed. The less you do, the better.

Less is more here. Even as a practitioner, I feel the urge to anticipate and help the practitioners treating me by moving my arm, leg, or head in a certain way. While this is a minor detail in the grand view of treatment, it entails we're being less present with ourselves and what is happening inside of us.

If the practitioner is doing some form of manual therapy, then this can certainly affect the work being done. In this situation, there is something deeper happening that isn't allowing more "letting go."

Don't eat within an hour before treatment.

With food in the stomach, circulation and metabolic activities will be focused on digestion rather than going to other places in the body that will help produce a more efficacious treatment.

Let the practitioner know about any changes in your health, even the smallest.

East Asian Medicine views the body differently than the Western orthodox model that many of us are accustomed to in this country. Slight fluctuations are indications that health is shifting and can be relevant to understanding the pattern being worked on. Did your bowel movements change this week? Sleep pattern? Dreams? Even a couple of nights of odd dreams after treatment can be a sign that something is happening. The practitioner will want to know any, and all given data as this will help form a more accurate treatment.

All your questions are good questions because it's what you need to feel more present and at ease.

If a question is coming up it's more than likely it's something that will also settle your mind once you've voiced it and received an answer. It may also be relevant to your overall health situation and can contribute to more accurate treatment.

Communicate about any discomfort you may be in on the table

Even if you think, "it's not a big deal." Sometimes treatments are strong, cupping is strong, needle sensation is dull and heavy, that's all acceptable, so it can be tricky to know what's productive discomfort and what is simply painful and not helping the beneficial effects of the treatment. The best thing to do is say something at the moment. The more you get treated, the more you'll know what is what.

Dress warmly for after the treatment

You don't want to walk outside after treatment and have to contract your whole body in the cold after you've just opened tight muscles and increased circulation. Especially keep your neck warm and shielded from the wind.

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