Acupuncture is a powerful tool in situations where our bodies need help returning to normal movement and function. By stimulating muscles which have been shut down by compensation and releasing the muscles which have become overactive, acupuncture helps the body return to normal movement. It stimulates certain points along the nervous system, that improve circulation, stimulate the immune system, and reduce inflammation.
When you experience pain or injure yourself, the body often creates a pattern of compensation in order to stay safe. With an injury, pain tells you that it’s not safe to move that part. To protect the injury, the brain rewires your movement (such as limping) and your muscles shift how they perform their normal jobs.
Consequently, weeks of moving differently may cause other areas to hurt. If your movement doesn’t return to normal after you heal, your brain forgets how to move normally. It’s these situations where we need help returning to normal movement, and acupuncture is a great tool that stimulates the nervous system and tells it that it’s safe to move normally again.
To your brain, almost all stress is the same – whether it’s from being stuck in traffic, working too much, or running from our lives from a tiger. In all these situations, the same sympathetic nervous system is active – commonly known as our “fight or flight” response.
The purpose of this system is to keep up alive – right now. When it activates, it causes a cascade of physiological changes that make it easier for us to stay alive. Blood flow moves away from the reproductive and digestive systems into the limbs so we can run or fight, our lungs open up so we can get more oxygen and release more cellular waste in the form of carbon dioxide, and our pupils dilate so we can see more of the potential dangers around us.
The sympathetic nervous system is not designed to be in this mode for extended periods of time, and what we don’t do well when we’re in fight or flight is heal. To prevent our systems from starting to break down we need to stop, rest and relax. Acupuncture helps balance sympathetic nervous system by turning off the “fight or flight” response and turning on the “rest and digest” response or the parasympathetic system.