How Acupuncture Helps Performing Artists

WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE

As a part of Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture has been present for over three thousand years and has contributed to good health both preventatively and curatively to many human ills over centuries. As an energy medicine, acupuncture is based on balancing out energetics of the body and mind to promote good health; to reduce and eliminate acute and chronic pain and help in recovering process of ongoing health issues. It is rooted in oriental philosophy and linked to natural cycles of balancing opposing qualities within nature and human body as a part of nature itself.

HOW ACUPUNCTURE WORKS

Acupuncture treatment is based on inserting fine, hair thin needles into certain points on the body meridians and in to acupuncture reactive points to activate and stimulate healing and reduce pain. Acupuncture is used to treat the wholeness of the individual and the acupuncturist uses very sophisticated assessment methods to determine the energetic state of the body. They then decide what is the best and shortest way to restore health in each individual circumstances, on both physical and emotional levels. Combination of points assembled in a prescription is assessed according to a very specific diagnosis, following taking extensive medical history, observation of the pulse and tongue, and physical examination. Acupuncture prescriptions are re-assessed and and re-evaluated at each subsequent session and may or may not change, according to the changes detected during pulse, tongue and palaption diagnosis.

HOW CAN ACUPUNCTURE BENEFIT PERFORMERS

Preventatively, performers may benefit from acupuncture by preparing body for the extensive endurance requirements they are faced with in preparation for performance. By stimulating circulation of the blood and oxygen through the tissues, acupuncture reduces reaction to physical, mental and physiological stresses they may face as well as reduce their susceptibility to tension and muscle cramping. Combined with the appropriate instrumental and/or vocal technique, acupuncture can help the performer to achieve long lasting optimum performance without pain or injury.

If, however, the initial discomfort evolves into pain and often limitation of movement, injury frequently follows as musicians often push themselves beyond their limits, and, in my experience, work through pain. Inadequate rest, unhealthy eating habits, improper posture and mental and emotional strain further exacerbate this problem. As these are the warning signals from the body, indicating that something is weakened and out of balance, the performer must seek professional help, rest and allow sufficient time for healing. Acupuncture at this stage helps the performer to recover by initiating healing processes and works well by itself or in addition to a prescribed medical treatment.

MUSICIANS INJURIES AND ACUPUNCTURE

There are many possible injuries, such as physical trauma, sprain, repetitive strain injury, tendinitis and anxiety that musicians, and performers in general, experience today. Acupuncture is a well researched medicine model and there are studies confirming its benefits in treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, focal dystonia, back and shoulder pain, stress reduction, headaches and insomnia. All these are very frequent performers health concerns that impede and limit their performing careers. Many are treated with conventional medical treatments, different physical therapies, and, more increasingly, with acupuncture and associated techniques of Chinese Medicine.

As acupuncture impacts both psychological and physical aspects of an individual, often several performer’s problem may be resolved in the course of acupuncture treatments. For example, they may suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, but also have problems with anxiety and stage fright. Or they may suffer from chronic shoulder and neck pain but also have difficulty sleeping as stress levels due to pain are high.

When a course of acupuncture treatments is planned, the acupuncturist will consider what treatment plan will work for the performer displaying above symptoms. It will work to resolve the main cause that led to development of those symptoms, as well as to reduce acute pain and discomfort, the main presenting symptoms. Therefore, a very specific treatment plan is always prescribed according to personal circumstances. Several treatments are often necessary to notice marked improvements and frequently life style changes and instrumental and/or voice techniques have to be adjusted. Acupuncture treatment benefits always last longer if these changes are made and incorporated as a norm in performers lives.

ACUPUNCTURE AND WESTERN MEDICINE

Acupuncture works very well alongside conventional medicine treatments and together with other complementary medicine therapies. Initially, and preferably short term, medication may enable relatively swift return to routine instrumental and vocal practice and is a treatment of choice for many in a competitive world of performing. However, regular use of medication may contribute to further injury, as well as cause numerous side effects. These in turn have a profound impact on performance, endurance and overall vitality. Use of painkillers, anti-inflammatory medications and steroids relieves temporarily aches, pains, stiffness and/or swelling. However, prolonged use may be masking deeper rooted problems, as the pain often is a “good” sign of body signalling the attention is needed to prevent further deterioration of symptoms.

Acupuncture treatment provides safe and drug-free immediate pain relief, as well as long lasting health benefits that extend to all aspects of health. Due to the nature of performers work that is often a vocation as well as a job, it is of utmost importance that the body and mind are well taken care of. Painful conditions can often progress from acute to chronic if ignored and not treated and the performer may be faced with long periods of absence from their instrument in a recovery period. In my clinical experience, with the use of Chinese medicine acupuncture both preventatively and curatively, post injury recovery periods are much shorter and susceptibility to further injury much diminished. Acupuncture always works on a deep, constitutional level of an individual. Addressing the root cause of the problem results in resolution of symptoms and improvement in general health and longevity.