Through my personal experience, I have become an advocate for bodywork as a means to long term wellness. As a hardcore software developer and writer, I have been using acupuncture to manage inflammation in my arms and wrists for over a decade, and there’s nothing like it to keep my energy from getting blocked in certain areas. In addition, my acupuncturists have always been trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine, offering some interesting treatments (can I get a shout out to cupping?) that have helped my body as well. In addition to acupuncture, when I lived in Austin, I visited a chiropractor regularly. He not only made me feel relaxed after every visit through a good ‘back cracking,’ he also used a muscle-testing technique to help me determine which herbs and vitamins were in harmony with my body. Finally, in the last year, I’ve discovered the field of Rolfing, which has helped my body posture and alignment in ways that I could have never imagined. In this blog, I outline some of the nuances and my personal experiences with these wonderful wellness modalities, which are often dismissed by Western medicine specialists who cannot fully comprehend or understand their methods, resulting in their unfortunate lack of recommending them as valid means to maintain a healthy body and mind.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
The field of Traditional Chinese Medicine has been around for centuries, and through that time, it has evolved a bit here and there; however, in my analysis, there are two precepts that separate this field from modern western medicine:
Traditional Chinese Medicine focuses on wellness, whereas modern Western medicine focuses on treating sickness.
Traditional Chinese Medicine uses a wholistic approach that takes into account body, mind, and spirit to focus on the whole before the individual parts, whereas modern Western medicine focuses on individual symptoms and body parts before the whole mind/body/spirit complex.
These two points alone allow us to see the vast differences in the way practitioners treat clients in these two fields. It also gives some clues as to why Western doctors have an aversion to the Eastern methods — that is, they are unable to break the whole down into its parts to satisfactorily understand what is going on. Unfortunately, they miss out on treatments with a proven track record which can help their patients. In my personal experience, full-body acupuncture is the only thing that has kept me from developing carpal tunnel syndrome from using a mouse and keyboard for the last 20 years, and every time my arms start to flare up, I know it’s time to schedule a session or two with my local acupuncturist!
Dry Needling is NOT Valid Acupuncture
On the heels of the success of acupuncturists in treating patients with their ancient methods, a new wave of practitioners have attempted to break down the concepts of acupuncture into this “new” practice of “dry needling” and offer it to physical therapists as a treatment which they can learn over the course of a weekend seminar. Unfortunately, attempting to use acupuncture without the precepts of Traditional Chinese Medicine has led to a number of major issues, from athletes getting punctured lungs to giving real acupuncturists a black eye. In fact, the practice of dry needling by physical therapists may not only be dangerous, but also totally illegal. If you decide to try acupuncture, always make sure that your practitioner is certified in the field, and not a weekend warrior who tried to take millennia of knowledge and condense it into a western model, using it as an addition to their massage therapy or physical therapy practice.
A Back Crack does not make a Quack
Any time I hear someone using charged words or neurolinguistic programming to negatively cast doubt on another person, I always look to see how the accuser feels threatened by the person they accuse. I’ve heard so many medical doctors refer to chiropractors as “quacks” that it’s become old hat by now. I’m not sure if it’s because Chiropractors actually have a heavier course load, aren’t inundated by pharmaceutical corporations, don’t experience sleep deprivation during rotations conducive to brainwashing, or have some other chip on their shoulder, but there’s nothing quite like going to a quality chiropractor. Now don’t get me wrong, just like in the M.D. field, there are quack Chiropractors, but the fact that there are far less malpractice suits against chiropractors than M.D’s could be an indication of the harmlessness of going to a chiropractor (especially for non-acute symptoms). There’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting your joints realigned by a quality chiropractic visit, but there’s often a lot more to most chiropractors than just a good back cracking…
Kinesiology, Tuning Forks and other fun stuff
Most chiropractors have more in their arsenal than just cracking your joints. My Austin chiropractor would use a process called kinesiology, or, “muscle testing,” where he would determine all kinds of things based on the strength of my muscles after a given thought or substance was introduced to my body. This process is covered in depth by the books of David Hawkins, and of course, it has its fair share of detractors. For me personally though, I found it to be a fine tool to often discover which supplements might work best for me. My chiropractor also introduced me to this stuff called agrisept, which is made from various fruit seed extracts and is known to help with all sorts of ailments, and I’ve used it with success when I’ve had stomach issues or felt a cold coming on. It’s also great for sanitizing water whilst traveling to developing countries. Beyond my personal experience, I’ve also heard of other chiropractors using things like tuning forks, ionizing foot baths, and dry saunas to help their patients. There’s a whole world of wellness out there with chiropractors if you are blessed enough to find a good one!
That said, I’ve always noticed the results of my chiropractic sessions to be short-lived. I felt great and totally aligned for about a day after, but then my body would eventually go back to its normal (abnormal) shape. Then, I discovered Rolfing!
Rolfing Structural Integration
It took me a while until I got a chance to visit a Rolfing specialist, and when I finally did, I was hooked and I had to complete the ten series. The concepts and background behind Rolfing is an entire field in and of itself, and it’s another system of wholistic wellness based on the alignment of the body’s fascial skeleto-muscular system. But to me, it’s all about posture. I was able to see drastic improvements in my posture after visiting my Rolfer, and these changes have been long lasting. A Rolfing session is a bit more intense than a deep-tissue massage, but the results are much more apparent. Another personal testimonial is that I’ve had a long-term shoulder injury after an incident with a waterfall in Thailand to the point where my arm would make an odd popping sound when I lifted it (for many years). After visiting my Rolfer in Boulder, she adjusted my arm in only a single session, and it no longer pops anymore! This in and of itself was totally amazing to me! It’s been months since that alignment, and I still have little-to-no popping there.
I always walk out of my Rolfing session standing much taller and straighter than when I walked in. Of course, bad habits of typing at a computer will slowly diminish the effects of this, so I continue to go to my Rolfer on a regular basis for tune-ups and further alignment. It’s also amazing how we are perceived differently by others simply based on our posture, and Rolfing is a surefire way to improve posture, and subsequently, our “standing” in the world.
Results over Detailed Explanation
While all three of these healing modalities have been demonized and dismissed by Western Medicine specialists, I wholeheartedly stand by their results. While neither I nor the doctors who proclaim these treatments as ‘quackery’ fully understand the details of why these techniques work for me and millions of others, it is not important to me to understand and break the concepts down into explainable details. What is important is that I maintain my health, and this is what it’s all about! With the trifecta of Acupuncture, Chiropractic, and Rolfing, the intention is to never need to visit a Western doctor to begin with. Of course, this could be the very reason why Western Doctors don’t like these disciplines — they can be bad for business!