That Time I Got Acupunture

3 Oct

Today I had my first acupuncture experience. One of my clients for my business is offering free introductory sessions for a limited time and suggested I try it to relieve some swelling in my shin area. I figured, why not.


I met with the acupuncturist and she asked me a few questions, and I explained where my pain was/what was going on. She explained that usually she gets to know the patients a lot more in depth, but since it was only 30 minutes it was abbreviated. She explained the reasoning behind acupuncture and how it works.

She had me lie down face down on a massage table and started feeling around my calves. She was surprised at how tight they were (but at the same time, not surprised because I’m a runner haha). She said that usually she doesn’t do anything aggressive for the first session, but since the marathon is close, and my calves are so tight, she wanted to do trigger point acupuncture on me.

Trigger point is a bit different than normal acupuncture. Here’s a better description than anything I can give:

Trigger points are located in soft-tissue, primarily in bands of tightened muscle fibers. Trigger points often develop as a consequence of acute or repetitive strain, muscular-skeletal imbalance, injury or disease. They may cause localized pain, referred pain, and reduced range of motion and function.

Whenever we are treating pain conditions we thoroughly examine the physical structure and musculature to find areas of tightness, constriction and trigger points. These are all potential acupuncture “points” used to treat a pain condition. When trigger point acupuncture is done, patients may experience twitching contractions of the tight muscle as it is being treated. This twitching serves to bring the muscle out of its contracted state, so it can loosen and regain normal tone. This allows better range of motion, and function and reduces or alleviates the associated pain.

For being so shallow, it was a bit painful! As she inserted the needles, my calf muscles contracted on their own and tightened up, which she said is necessary for them to “release.” My left calf (and the side I’ve been having issues with) hurt a lot more than my right. She also inserted the needles into my traps, as she said those were tight too (and again, my left side was way tighter. How can such tiny needles cause your muscles to contract like that??!

Clearly, my left side needs some work. She suggested stretching my calves regularly, which I do try to do. I know that my left side is considerably weaker in my hips, ankles, etc.

After she put the needles in, she left me in the room for 15-20 minutes to just relax. On the needles she put near my shin, she added a pad for electric stimulation, which just feels like a tingling sensation. When she came back in, she removed the needles and cleaned the areas down with a cotton ball, though the majority of people don’t bleed (I don’t think I did because I can’t even see where the needles were). She applied some BioFreeze to my calves and traps which felt really good! It makes the areas feel chilled for a period after you apply it…kind of like Bengay.

As soon as I got up, I could feel my left calf was very sore/tight. She said it’s normal for 24-48 hours after treatment. It’s a similar feeling as if you did like 100 calf-raises yesterday and are super sore today. She advised me to stretch my calf all day for longer than I usually do and drink a lot of water. She said doing the acupuncture in my calf and around the swollen area should help get rid of the metabolic waste that has accumulated from the swelling. The area does feel better and less puffy, so I think it worked! And hopefully it helps relieve some of my calf muscle tension.

I would definitely do this again! Despite some pain, it was a relaxing experience (once the needles were in) and the science behind it makes sense to me.

If you’re in the NJ area, you should check out Riverwalk Physical Therapy for this and other general physical therapy. They are great, and treat a lot of athletes.

Have you ever gotten acupuncture before?

Would you consider trying it?


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2 Responses to “That Time I Got Acupunture”

  1. trainrite00 October 3, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    I was getting migraines every time i did pull-ups or tensed up my neck for quite a while. I would have to lay down still for at least 4hrs before it passed. I went a chiro, but instead of an adjustment she did acupuncture instead. She added electrodes to pulse my neck muscles. After 3 treatments I felt no relief, no difference really at all (even the day of!). So I went to a massage therapist instead. The massage therapist provided immediate relief, and I healed relatively quickly. I hope your experience will be better than mine.

  2. Run Pilou Run! October 4, 2013 at 3:55 am #

    I have had acupuncture on my shins for shin splints, on my calves for tight calves, and on my Achilles for Achilles and pkantar fascia issues (those are the ones that hurt the most in my experience). I don’t think I would be running today had my physio not done it to me. Yes, it hurts a bit a day later, but I’ve always felt the benefits.

    I hope it continues to help!

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