At Summer Acupuncture, patients have the option of working with Owner Summer Nemri, LAc, EAMP, for massage only. Summer practices two different types of massage, and most would categorize her style on the deep tissue end of the spectrum, although she adjusts her pressure to each patient’s preference.
“I use massage to help assist in my diagnosis and treatment plan, by way of palpating or feeling the channels,” Summer explains. “It gives me a clearer understanding of where any blockages or stagnation might lie, particularly when dealing with musculoskeletal pain, but not always. Emotional pain also can begin to create blockages on the physical level, which can be palpated in the channels to varying degrees.”
Using massage to help “break up” some of this stagnation, regardless of what it’s related to, can dramatically free up some of the energy that’s been historically feeding an old story. The body communicates to us in many ways, and sometimes it will store some old (or even current) emotional pain and trauma in the tissues. Sometimes when a traumatic or painful life event happens to us, we don’t always have the tools to deal with it at the time, but it goes somewhere!
“It’s not always the case that a knot or adhesion is linked to emotional or physical pain; however, my belief is that it absolutely can be,” Summer says. “Massage—and acupuncture, of course—can aid in getting the tissue moving and the blood flowing in order to clean out that area and create room for something new and improved to manifest, metaphorically speaking.
In Chinese medicine, Tui-Na, which translates as “push-pull,” is a type of massage that vigorously moves the Qi (energy in our bodies; pronounced chee) in the channels. All of the areas massaged in this way follow the channels, and it is intended to get the blood and Qi circulating. Tui-Na is a very effective way to clear pain that is lodged in the channels, particularly if the pain is old and chronic. Generally, Summer incorporates some Tui-Na massage in both massage-only appointments as well as my acupuncture treatments.
Chi Nei Tsang Abdominal Massage
Chi Nei Tsang (pronounced chee neigh tsong) is a type of abdominal organ massage closely linked to the principles and roles of the organs in Chinese medicine. Summer uses this type of massage on many patients dealing with digestive issues, stress affecting digestion, infertility, general abdominal tightness, or abdominal pain.
This work is truly amazing and helps reconnect us to our belly and our breath. So often, we are unaware of where (or where not) our breath is going, or where we are breathing. If you watch babies breathe, you’ll notice that their bellies are going up and down, not their chests. If you watch most adults, you’ll notice that the breath has moved into only the first third of their chests—not even fully into the lungs! This is a result of stress and the “fight, flight, or freeze” effect.
We have created an unfortunate disconnect between the head/mind and the body. Most of us are not using our breath to its fullest potential. Part of Chi Nei Tsang massage is re-training the mind/body to take slower, deeper breaths into our bellies. It’s not easy, but with practice, it’s very achievable and the difference can be staggering. You will feel more in your body, more present with the changes going on internally. This re-learning will help you to remember that when you’re stressed, take a deep belly breath instead of a shallow upper rib breath. It will help your nervous system to relax, and you’ll notice a flood of energy throughout your being.
On top of breath awareness, Chi Nei Tsang can truly get our inner vital organs and intestines moving again! There’s so much going on in there, and so little room. With just some simple massage attention in tandem with your coordinated, deep belly breathing, we can create so much more space for our precious organs to move and get flooded with fresh oxygen. This may sound odd to some, but if our organs aren’t getting proper movement, they will begin to stick to each other and/or the peritoneal sack in which they are floating. This can create a big mess and lead to indigestion, constipation, infertility, and pain.
Summer’s Chi Nei Tsang massages are very gentle, and the two of you will progress slowly. In addition, Summer almost always accompanies this treatment by using some essential oil blends that aid in the relaxation of the nervous system and stimulate digestion.
Cupping is an old technique used by many different cultures around the world. In Arabic, it’s translated as “wind cups.” The most common use for cupping is for back pain and noticeable muscle tension, mostly in the upper back and between the shoulder blades. Another area to use cupping is on the Iliotibial bands (upper leg muscles) if they’re very tight.
The second most common reason to use cupping, and referring back to the “wind cups” translation, is upon first sign of what we call a “wind cold” in Chinese medicine. When we catch a cold, sometimes we get that achy neck and back feeling. If you can visit us during that time, cupping on the upper back can help “vent” the pathogen that is said to be lodged in the skin layer.
What is cupping though? Essentially, cupping involves the suctioning of rounded glass cups on an area. Summer uses fire cupping. In this technique, Summer dips a cotton ball in alcohol and lights it on fire. She quickly inserts the cotton ball in and out of the cup, and then quickly onto the skin to create a vacuum so that the cup latches on to the skin. The heat is creating a suction.
The benefits of cupping are plentiful. Cupping is used to break up adhesions and knots as well as strongly increase circulation and blood flow in the area of pain or concern. Good blood flow is essential in the healing process. In order to get old pain out, we need to flood the area with new blood and oxygen to clean out old debris and flush out the system.
Cupping also can be used as a diagnostic tool. The darker the cupping marks, the more indicative of “stagnation”—the issue is chronic or has reached deeper layers. Generally, the more cupping and acupuncture that is done in the area over time, the marks will become lighter and the pain will be decreased. And if there are no marks that show up, or the skin just gets really red, it usually means that the issue is more superficial, and we can deal with it in fewer treatments. (Unless, of course, the issue is linked strongly to emotional pain or trauma.)
If you do end up with marks (most people do), it takes about a week or less for them to go away. They look like circular bruises, but they won’t feel that way. Although you might feel sore the day after a cupping session, you also should feel relief. Truly, the marks look much scarier than they feel!
Cupping aftercare is simple: Drink more water than normal and keep the neck and back covered (most important in the colder seasons).