Acupuncture and Fitness
William C. Phillips

When we think of Acupuncture, we often tend to think of a sedentary older person with a bad back who has tried everything else. And now he's going to seek relief by having a bunch of needles stuck in his back.

While this is an accurate picture as far as it goes, the pain relieving aspects of acupuncture are the veritable tip of the needle, so to speak, of this ancient Chinese healing art.

Acupuncture's origins are shrouded in history, but one thing is certain, it goes back thousands of years. The earliest surviving reference we have to acupuncture is in the Nei Ching, traditionally ascribed to Huang Ti, the legendary Yellow Emperor (2698-2598 B.C.).

Well known in Europe by the early 19th century, acupuncture was virtually unknown in this country until fairly recently. Most Americans became familiar with acupuncture when President Nixon made his historic visit to China in the early 1970's. At that time we saw dramatic footage of a patient eating an orange during open heart surgery. The anesthesiologist was an acupuncturist; his anesthesia: a few well placed needles.

Needless to say, this generated a lot of interest in America, and licensing of trained acupuncturists was begun in California in the mid 1970's.

According to certified acupuncturist Shoshanna Katzman, there is a national licensing authority: The National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncturists, which is used as the standard for licensure in many states. In addition, several states have their own acupuncture examining boards that set the licensing procedure for these states. Ms. Katzman studied acupuncture under Michael Tierra and Miriam Lee in California and is a graduate of the Tri-State Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine's Clinical Acupuncture Program. In addition to having her national license, she is state certified in both New Jersey and California.

When asked how acupuncture could be of use to today's natural bodybuilder or athlete, Ms. Katzman indicated that acupuncture can be used to increase energy, in the loss or gaining of weight, increased circulation, toning of muscle, suppression of appetite, stress reduction, and to promote vibrant good health. In addition, in the event of injury, acupuncture can be used for more than just pain. It can be used to increase flexibility, reduce swelling in the injured area, and promote the healing process, permitting bodybuilders and other athletes to get back to their training after a shorter healing interval.

Acupuncture is based on the concept of energy flow throughout the body. There are 12 principle energy meridians in the body. Usually, problems develop when there is a congestion in the energy flow from these meridians to one or more of the body's organs. This congestion often contributes to the patient's disease.

When a patient comes in with a complaint, the acupuncturist first discovers the energy imbalances at the root of the problem. Based on that diagnosis, the acupuncturist develops a treatment plan to remedy the imbalance. Treatment is usually 1x per week for 10 to 15 weeks with a maintenance program of 4 times a year after that. However, if symptoms persist, the patient can engage in another course of weekly treatments after a two to four week rest from treatment.

Modern practitioners use safe, disposable, stainless steel needles. What we usually consider to be a needle in a doctor's office is actually a hollow tube through which a fluid is inserted into our bodies. Since the acupuncturist's needle is truly a needle, and not a tube, it is much thinner, and its insertion under the skin is painless.

For those of you still wondering about the benefits of acupuncture, and especially the painlessness of the needles, perhaps my own personal experience with acupuncture will be helpful.

I am an active person. I practice and teach Tai Chi, Karate and Ju Jitsu. I run, swim, and lift a few light weights, just to keep my muscle tone. I have an old back injury.

On my visit, Ms. Katzman took a careful history, which asked me what my problems were, but also included close questioning about my diet and physical activity patterns.

She then used several oriental diagnosis techniques to determine the causes of my problems. Then…on to the needles. They are indeed painless. In fact, there was no sensation at all of them going in. Once in, there was no pain, and I dozed on and off for the1/2 hour or so that the needles remained. The removal process was also painless.

But what a difference the treatment made! It was like someone had just turned down the volume on my pain. And there was an unanticipated side benefit too. My 14 to 16 hour work days had been leaving me exhausted and I was taking a one hour nap any afternoon I could spare the time. Immediately after treatment, I stopped feeling any need for afternoon naps. My energy level is now strong and smooth throughout my long and hectic day. I feel better than I have felt in years.

If you live in New York City and are interested in acupuncture treatments for sports injury, pain reduction or other chronic problems contact Mr. James Leporati, L. AC., 2572 East 15th Street, Brooklyn, New York 11235. (718) 769-8900.

If acupuncture is of interest to you and you would like to find an acupuncturist near you, please write to: Ms. Shoshanna Katzman, The Reynolds Building - 788 Shrewsbury Ave, Tinton Falls NJ 07724 Red Bank Acupuncture

William C. Phillips began his study of the martial arts in 1965. He currently holds a 7th degree black belt in Karate, and a 5th degree black belt in Ju Jitsu. He began his studies of Tai Chi in l967, studying with Prof. Cheng Man-Ch'ing from '70-'75. He became the most junior student ever to become a teacher in Cheng Man Ch'ing's New York school, the Shr Jung. Sifu Phillips became interested in the field of holistic health in the early 1970's, when a lifelong allergy problem was alleviated with Chinese herbal medicine. Since then, he has studied widely in that field as well. Sifu Phillips is available for seminars, lectures and demonstrations. He has produced two very successful Tai Chi DVDs, and is currently working on a book on Tai Chi form and a third DVD.For more information...

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