What is Acupuncture?


Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese therapy which involves inserting of single use, pre-sterilised, disposable needles which vary inwidths and lengths, that pierce the skin at the speicific acupuncture points into the body. It aims to manage pain and inflammation and stimulates the body’s own healing chemicals in order to aid recovery. It is one of the most popular complementary therapies in the UK with 2.3 million acupuncture treatments carried out each year.

What can acupuncture help?

In physiotherapy we commonly use it to treat

  • back pain
  • headaches+ migraines
  • muscle and tendon problems
  • joint related pain such as osteoarthritis
  • aiding sleep and relaxation which is useful in many long term pain conditions.

How does it work?

There are many different theories – in ancient Chinese medicine they believe that there are many forces within the body that require balance in order to achieve health and fitness. Acupuncture helps clear your energy channels (meridians) by two types of forces called YIN (negative) and YAN (positive) forces which help achieve and restore your natural state of balance (homeostasis).

In western medicine research has shown that acupuncture can help to reduce pain by inhibiting the pain signals transferred to the brain. It also releases chemicals such as endorphins and natural opioids which are both pain-relieving substances as well as improving circulation to the healing area.

Trigger point acupuncture may also be used to facilitate relaxation in specific muscles or as a means to obtain increased muscle length in order to aid stretch and rehabilitation.

The Physiotherapist will determine the locations of the Acupuncture points, based upon your assessment. A number of needles may be used at each treatment and these are typically left in position for 10-20 minutes before being removed.

Is acupuncture the right treatment for me?

Your therapist will ask you a series of questions in relation to your problem and your past medical history in order to help determine whether acupuncture is right for you. A few reasons we might not use acupuncture include a history of epilepsy, blood clotting disorders, infection or if you are pregnant.

Your physiotherapist will often incorporate other treatment techniques, education and exercises to help with your condition.

Are they any side effects?

It is common to get a mild tingling, warmth or heavy feeling in the area whilst the needles are in. The most common side effect is mild bruising, however some people can feel a little light-headed or drowsy after treatment.

Is there anything I should I do before/after acupuncture?

Try and eat a couple hours before your treatment, particularly if you have a condition such as diabetes where you could be more at risk of feeling faint if your blood sugar is low.

After treatment make sure you have time to sit and drink a glass of water before rushing off. You may also want to avoid driving after your first appointment in case you feel dizzy or drowsy.

If you think you could benefit from the combined approach of physiotherapy and acupuncture to help your recovery from a painful condition or injury, then give us a call or book an appointment online.


Why should we roll?

What is foam rolling?

Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release therapy. Myo’ means muscle and ‘fascia’ means band. Myofascial release can help to;

–        Improve vascular function

–        Release trigger points

–        Reduce the effects of Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

–        Improve tissue range of motion

What tissue is actually been affected

Fascia is connective tissue, best described as a web of elastin and collagen fibres. It surrounds and protects every other tissue, tendon, muscle, bone, ligament in the body. This acts as a supportive mechanism allowing us to move without restriction or discomfort. Fascia is also dynamic in nature, it responds to internal and external forces applied on it.

 Why should we roll?

Although stretching has historically been the most common method for increasing flexibility immediately before a training session foam rolling is now becoming a popular additive. Evidence suggests Foam rolling can be a suitable alternative to static stretching for increasing joint ROM in the short-term. The combination of foam rolling followed by static stretching has shown to produce the greatest gains in flexibility however current research is unable to prove these effects long term. Recent evidence also suggests that foam rolling does not affect athletic performance, this is in contrast to static stretching which can be known to cause a temporary reduction in performance especially in high intensity training.  Foam rolling may also reduce perceived soreness as a result of DOMS within a 48 hour period.

When should you foam roll?

–        Pre-workout. Be specific – work on the areas that you have problems with or know are tight. Don’t replace a dynamic warm-up – supplement it.

–        Use foam rolling post-workout for quicker short-term recovery (Reduced DOMS)

–        Make it functional – Make it specific to what type of exercise you are about to perform and what joints/muscles will be required e.g. Iliotibial band before running

How should I foam roll?
There are many different techniques however trigger point release and rolling are of the most common. When trigger pointing find a ‘tender’ spot, and then apply pressure with the roller. If it has started to ease, stay on it for another few seconds then release. If the pain doesn’t subside don’t add any further pressure as you may risk damaging the tissue. You can also work through a few specific trigger points along the structure you are working on. Spend 1-2 minutes seconds rolling out the area using your own body weight until the movement provides less discomfort.

You are now ready to roll!

Want to learn more or find out why you are getting tightness in a certain area? Book a Muscle balance assessment with us: 

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