Every year I make many, many New Years Resolutions. I like to cover lots of bases, and make it more like a “To Do List for 2016” in order to (a) get more things done and (b) give myself some leeway to miss a few items. One of the big things on my list for the year though, was to try acupuncture. So when I found out that my own salon, George the Salon, was offering acupuncture services, I jumped at the chance to check a “2016 To Do” off my list.
Acupuncture, for those who don’t know, is the traditional Chinese medicine practice of inserting extremely thin needles through one’s skin at strategic points on our body, most commonly to relieve pain. For the ancient Chinese, and many still in today’s world of modern science, this technique is used for balancing the flow of energy or life force — known as qi or chi — believed to flow through meridians (or pathways) in your body. By inserting needles into specific points along these meridians, acupuncture practitioners believe that your energy flow will re-balance.
If you’re more into Western sciences, you can also think about it this way: The acupuncture points are places to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue. This stimulation can boost your body’s natural painkillers and increases blood flow.
Whichever explanation you believe, this technique clearly has had some success, because it’s been used for thousands of years. And despite these ancient roots, it is still practiced very frequently today for all manner of health issues, and it even used at the Mayo Clinic now.
Needless to say, I was interested (and a littler nervous) to try this old school method of medicine relaxation.
I met with Dr. Suni Pullukat of Chicago Sports & Wellness at his downtown office off George the Salon, and he instantly put me at ease. Our session started with talking about my day to day life, exercise regime and even just things that were bothering me. He used these facts to learn which areas of my body might hold tension, and what I wanted to focus on. If every traditional massage I have ever gone to just began with this simple conversation, I probably would have gotten a lot more use out of my massages.
But, back to Dr. Pullukat. What I appreciated most about our experience, came from the fact that he is a Board Certified Chiropractic Physician with an extra certification in Acupuncture. This meant he was able to provide both chiropractic services as well as acupuncture. Plus, he has treated movie stars, musicians as well as numerous pro athletes from the NBA, NHL, MLB and NFL which I loved (even if he modestly wouldn’t tell me all their names).
He began with more chiropractic techniques, working on pressure points and massaging tense muscles, including working out a very crazy knot in my back that had been giving me trouble for over a month. From there we moved to more traditional acupuncture, which is where my nerves hit a high point.
Dr. Pullukat talked me through it, and overall it was relatively painless. The needle insertion just felt like a little prick, and it helped that I kept my eyes closed throughout. I had about about 20 needles throughout my body, including on my head, hands, legs and chest. Any time I felt too much tension in an area, Dr. Pullukat loosened the needle in that spot. After they were all placed to my comfort level, he left me alone for meditation (and to listen to his awesome soothing playlist that included James Morrison, Empire and Justin Beiber covers)
The session ended with deep breathing and more talk of how I can relive tension in my day to day life. Overall, it was a painless (to my relief) and very relaxing experience. I slept great that night and it was wonderful to have the knots and pressure points gone from my upper back and shoulders.
Whether you believe in ancient medicine, chi meridians, or none of the above, I would still give acupuncture a try. It’s relaxing, destressing, and you might just overcome a small fear of needles in the process.