Mar 9 2020
The journey from pregnancy into motherhood is both miraculous and daunting. As the fetus develops and becomes a baby, remarkable demands are placed upon your body, you become host to another life. As you physically carry that responsibility, your health and well being are challenged in many ways.
If you don’t want to use drugs, what can you do?
Pregnancy requires your body to work overtime to meet the needs of the growing life within you. Acupuncture is well suited to help you meet the everyday challenges of digestion, constipation and colds. It can also be helpful with pregnancy related nausea, respiratory and urinary infections, pelvic, low back, upper back and neck pain, leg cramps and carpal tunnel syndrome.
How can I increase my chances for having a natural childbirth?
In the weeks before childbirth, acupuncture can be used to prepare your body for labor. Studies have shown that women who receive acupuncture weekly in the last 4 weeks of pregnancy have more comfortable labors with fewer medical interventions (pitocin, epidural injections and cesarean sections.) Additionally, when needed, acupuncture can be used to turn the baby (with posterior or breach presentations) and induce labor.
Acupressure is an excellent way to manage pain and discomfort during labor. Your birthing partner or labor support person can be trained to use specialized acupressure points to help manage pain during labor. These acupressure techniques are easy to learn and are remarkably helpful in the labor process. Bring your partner to your acupuncture treatment so they can receive the acupressure for labor training.
After the baby is born, new mothers are often challenged! Classically, the Chinese have viewed the first month as Zuo Yuezi or the “sitting the month.” In this important time the mom is supported, nurtured and sheltered to help both the new mom and baby develop and bond.
Can acupuncture help new mothers? Yes! Acupuncture can help you with lactation problems, post-partum depression and the many physical issues that visit the new mother’s body.
Five Element Acupuncture supports the health of the mind, body and heart to come into balance in pregnancy, childbirth, motherhood and at any time in your life. Call us at 973.509.8464 • 212.529.1901 or book on line to schedule an appointment.
Feb 4 2020
Women today often carry a lot of weight on their shoulders. Pocketbooks and shoulder bags are often large and stuffed to the gills. Laptops, water bottles, cosmetics, spare shoes and snacks are just some of the items that overload women’s handbags. What happens when we shoulder too many burdens in a big bag?
If you are carrying a heavy bag on one shoulder or hand, it may be putting a strain on your neck, back and shoulders. Our bodies were not designed for carrying heavy weights with one arm or shoulder. The burden of the weight is on the top of the shoulder, compressing the spine and throwing us off balance.
Carrying a heavy bag can lead to neck, shoulder or back pain. Additionally, while the body is developing, and throughout life, carrying a large, asymmetrical load can reinforce structural problems including scoliosis and kyphosis.
This article explores the impact of Big Bag Syndrome and how you can avoid it.
Big bag syndrome can affect your structure in many ways:
- One shoulder is elevated to keep the bag from slipping.
- The body leans to the side and sometimes forward. You use the weight of your body to counterbalance against the heavy bag.
- The body braces to keep you from tipping over. When you carry an asymmetrical load (either in your hand or over your shoulder) your body braces to stabilize. That means you lean in the opposite direction (away from the load) and the muscles of the back work extra hard to try to compensate and keep you upright. Over time, chronically tightened muscles of the back can shorten and spasm.
- Big bag syndrome can take a toll on your structure. Chronically tight muscles shorten over time. The myofascial span actually shortens and thickens.
- The spine can develop scoliosis (an abnormal lateral curve.) Scoliosis develops while the vertebrae of the spine are growing, during the first 25 years of life. A myofascial shortening of the erector spinae on one side of the back may contribute to scoliosis.
- The body loses flexibility and becomes more prone to injury. When the myofascial shortens and thickens, we become less flexible. Loss of flexibility makes us prone to sprains, strains and tendonitis.
- Ultimately, both our posture and alignment can suffer. As the body tries to adapt to carrying a one sided load, the compensations become recorded in our structure and make it difficult to maintain a healthy posture.
What can you do to avoid Big Bag Syndrome?
- Keep it light. If you need to carry a hand or shoulder bag, limit the weight to less than 5% of body weight. If you weigh 140 lbs, that means your shoulder or handbag should weigh less than 7 lbs.
- Wear the shoulder bag strap across your back to stabilize the load.
- Carry two shoulder bags, one on each side for a more symmetrical load.
- Better yet, carry a backpack, which gives you a symmetrical load, assuming you wear it over both shoulders. Limit the backpack weight to less than 10% of body weight.
Jan 1 2020
Winter envelops us in darkness, much like a fetus is enveloped in its mother’s womb. It is a time of stillness, of waiting. The Water Element corresponds to the season of winter.
During this time of descending temperatures, shorter days and long nights, our friends in both the animal and plant kingdoms slow down to stillness. Snow covers the earth, replenishing her resources. Winter is a time of hibernation, when we gather our resources and prepare for the transitions of death and birth.
In previous articles, we have explored each of the five elements. The Wood Element corresponds to spring, when many animals give birth. Wood symbolizes the explosive growth that occurs in childhood. The Fire Element corresponds to summer, the season when humans enter adolescence and reach sexual maturity. The Earth Element corresponds to late summer when crops ripen and our energies are focused upon nurturing our families and developing our communities. The Metal Element corresponds to the autumn when the leaves first dazzle us with color before turning brown, falling to the ground and decaying. Metal symbolizes the challenge we face as we age – to let go of what is no longer needed and celebrate life’s mysteries and treasures.
In Chinese medicine, the Water Element is the final element in the cycle of change. Fear is the emotion that corresponds to winter and the Water Element. Western culture views fear as having no purpose or value. Fear is considered a negative emotion that exists only to be overcome.
We have a choice: We can run from our fears or we can face them. With courage, fear can be transformational, helping us to let go of what is no longer needed and prepare for the next stage in our lives.
What is it that you fear most in life? Often we are afraid of losing family members, friends or possessions. Sometimes we fear the loss of our physical or mental health. Many of us are afraid of death.
Humans often resist change. We want things to stay just as they are, although they never do. With each passing decade, we inevitably experience loss and concurrent change. It’s just part of life’s curriculum.
Stillness, like fear, is not embraced by modern western culture. We tend to ignore winter’s natural rhythms while staying busy and keeping our minds occupied.
We are tuned to our work and school schedules, rising early in the AM to arrive at an artificially set time. Our days are spent focused on accomplishing goals and performing tasks. When the darkness of evening falls, we turn on our electric lights, smart phones, computers and televisions.
The stillness of winter is inherently a time of reflection. By not “doing,” we have an opportunity to restore, recoup and return to our essence.
Stillness is often associated with fear, loss and death. Why do we fear death? And why is fear considered to be a negative emotion? Perhaps we fear moving into the unknown. Perhaps we resist uncertainty and change.
Winter is a wonderful opportunity to explore both stillness and fear. Consider tuning into the natural rhythm of the sun, rising later and going to bed earlier on the weekends. Spend time pursuing quiet inside your home. Witness the the inner quiet and stillness in nature.
Explore your fear. Is there something you are holding onto that isn’t really serving you? See if you can let it go. The stillness of winter and the Water Element turns us inward. Introspection has the potential to bring us closer to our soul.
In Chinese medicine, Water element is responsible for storage and management of our vital resources. Adequate reserves of water provides us with the fluidity to explore our thoughts, survey the possibilities and gives us the resources necessary to make change. The Water Element is also responsible for separating out our impurities and riding the body of these wastes.
The meridians that correspond with the Water Element are the kidney and urinary bladder. On the physical level, this element is responsible for maintaining fluid balance throughout the body. Too much fluid and we develop edema or congestive heart failure. Too little water and we become dehydrated or develop toxins and subsequent infectious diseases.
Our relationship to fear is often either of excess or insufficiency. When we have too much fear we become paralyzed. We become unable to move, to act, to do the right thing. When we have too little fear we become reckless. We leap before we look, taking unnecessary risks, flirting with danger.
In Chinese medicine, the kidneys are the home of the ancestral chi or in western terms, our genetic inheritance. Qi forms the energetic underpinnings of all life and is stored in the kidneys. While it is easy to “overspend” our energetic resources by doing more than we should, it is much more difficult to restore our Qi.
While the urinary bladder stores fluids and rids the body of waste, the kidneys manage the fluids, keeping them pure and distributing them throughout the system. Acupuncture is uniquely suited to treat water imbalances. Elevated or low blood pressure, low back problems, chronic stress, hyperactivity, paralysis (physical or psychological) and extreme risk-taking are water imbalances.
Additionally, we can cultivate Water element energy each day of our lives by getting adequate exercise, nutrition and rest. The practices of Tai Chi, Chigong and acupuncture are also powerful tools for cultivating our kidney chi and the Water Element.
Dec 2 2019
In the late fall, temperatures drop below freezing. For those who struggle with outdoor mold allergies, this provides a welcome relief. December can bring its own respiratory problems including Christmas Tree Syndrome. Are you allergic to Christmas Trees?
Do you find that your allergies and asthma become worse with the holiday season? Conifers or evergreens are host to over 50 kinds of molds and mold spores which can trigger respiratory illness. Our well heated homes provide an ideal environment for molds and their spores to proliferate. Additionally, pine sap can be double trouble for allergy sufferers. Pine sap can trap all kinds of pollen from trees, grasses and weeds onto the conifers bark. These pollens enter your home with the Christmas tree. Perhaps most importantly, pine sap contains terpenes. Terpine gives the Christmas tree it’s scent and is a common trigger to allergic response.
How do you prevent Christmas Tree Syndrome? Consider spraying the tree outdoors with a mild solution of bleach to kill the molds. Than, hose it down to wash off the bleach solution along with some of the molds and pollen. Allow the tree to dry outdoors (preferably in a garage) with it’s base in water always. Limit the length of time the tree is in your home.
Artificial Christmas Trees can be used instead, but may also be problematic. Most artificial trees are made with PVC, which can off gas toxins into you home. Additionally, it is important to clean the artificial tree and its ornaments every year, as they too harbor molds and dust mites. Before assembling the artificial tree, wipe down its branches with a damp cloth to help control these allergens. When storing the tree, wrap it well and keep it in a dry place.
Consider purchasing a premium air cleaner. At The Air Cleaner Store, we sell the Austin Air HealthMate Plus. The HealthMate Plus has over 60 square feet of medical grade HEPA to remove pollen, dust mites, molds and pet dander from the air. Additionally, this air cleaner has a special carbon filter with over 15 pounds of specially blend activated charcoal to remove odors and VOC’s including terpenes from the air. The HealthMate Plus will help you fight allergies, asthma and Christmas Tree Syndrome.
For people suffering with allergies and asthma, consider acupuncture. Acupuncture strengthening both your respiratory and immune systems. Acupuncture can help reduce or eliminate the incidence of allergies and asthma.
Oct 30 2019
“Physical stress mirrors emotional suffering, relief from physical constraint markedly affects emotional misery.” – Dr. Ida P. Rolf
The Irish say, the past is not the past. Each of us has a history. We are formed by both our physical and emotional experiences. The important things that happen during our journey leave their mark upon us, and shape our structure. Your unique movement pattern reflects athletic and career choices, psychological and physical health, as well as your genetic predispositions.
We are all moving around our physical limitations. When we recognize someone a block away it is often their movement pattern that distinguishes them first. How we walk and move through life is idiosyncratic. Traumatic injury, such as a physical accident or an emotional wound becomes part of our structure.
Consider an ankle sprain. In response to pain, we hold the ankle rigid. This internal bracing is an unconscious and instinctual – we do it to avoid more pain. In a matter of weeks, the fascia, the fabric of the body that organizes the structure, adapts by shortening. This shortening becomes a part of our structural pattern. The fascial shortening influences our movement patterns and our pattern of organization.
What happens when the ankle sprain heals? The fascial shortening remains and stays with us. Without therapeutic intervention the new pattern often remains with us throughout our life. Our freedom of movement (range of motion) becomes limited by the injury and the internal “repair.”
Psychic injuries are also formative of the structure. We often absorb sexual violence into our physical and emotional bodies. The experiences that we are unable to process become “stuck places” in the structure. Young children who become chronically embarrassed will often go through their lives with their shoulders elevated and rolled in, and their head forward.
This defensive posture actually becomes cemented into the structure. The pectoral and upper trapezius fascia shortens and thickens. We may carry these structural changes throughout our lives. Both the ankle sprain and the embarrassment create chronic holding patterns that influence how we stand, move, feel and think.
It is with great tenacity that we propel ourselves forward into space despite our physical and emotional wounds. Our survival depends on our ability to move. We find inventive and unique movement patterns to compensate for our losses.
These compensations come at a cost. Sometimes, the price we pay is the loss of efficiency. It takes extra energy to stay upright and to move when the body is not well aligned. Sometimes, we pay with the loss of confidence. Emotional trauma becomes lodged in the structure.
Rolfing supports the structure to become better balanced. The Rolfer uses deep pressure to release the chronic shortening in the fascia. As the tensions in the fascial network become more balanced, the structure becomes more upright. The stuck places become “unstuck.”
The implications of releasing these chronic shortenings from old injuries are far reaching. As the body changes and becomes more open, the heart and mind changes too, inevitably.
Rolfers use a ten session format to work progressively through the structure. Each session works on a different part of the body. Our goals include helping you become more vertical and upright, with openness and span. Ultimately, we want to help you become more comfortable in your own skin.
Five Element Acupuncture is also a wonderful tool for addressing old wounds and creating balance within the structure. Each area of chronic holding is present in our energetic field as an energetic block. As the acupuncturist removes each of these blocks, the body and the mind and heart move towards balance. Change within the structure offers great possibility and promise for change within the heart and mind.