Let’s face it. Most of us are not going to get acupuncture or massage treatments seven days a week. But pain can happen at any time -- just sleeping in a crooked position on your pillow or sitting too long at your computer can create aches and tension that seem intolerable. The good news is that there are tons of self-care techniques you can use to ease pain right in your own living room. Not only that, but the care you give yourself between treatments actually increases the efficacy of the work done by your practitioner.
Self-care is the greatest thing you can do to bring about long-term healing. I’d even go so far as to say that it’s a requirement. It can be the deciding factor in whether you get better or not.
Getting a treatment is akin to going to the mechanic to have your tires rotated or your engine checked. It’s necessary to see an expert from time to time. Meanwhile, self-care is like checking your tire pressure or getting an oil change. It has to be done on a regular basis if you want to keep the car running efficiently and ensure that the work done by the mechanic has the maximum possible effect. It’s the same with your body: you’ve gotta take care of it. Which is why I recommend making self-care a habit starting today.
The piece of equipment I most recommend for self-care -- and the one I use most often myself -- is a lacrosse ball. It’s just the right size and density for treating most types of muscle dysfunction.
How to use a lacrosse ball for self-care
All you have to do is place the ball between your body and a wall or underneath your body when lying on the floor. Rolling gently back and forth you can find the most painful spots. Then, by experimenting with how much you lean on the ball, you can modify how much pressure is applied. You may be pleasantly surprised by how much relief this technique can provide. If you’re having a hard time picturing this, check out the video demonstration on my website.
An added trick I recommend is placing the lacrosse ball inside of an old sock. That way you can hold the sock in your hand to prevent the ball from falling as you move around against the wall. With a little bit of practice, you’ll be treating your own muscle pain in no time.
As far as self-care tools go, the lacrosse ball is one of the best. It even has benefits beyond helping you treat the source of your pain.
The simple combination of lacrosse ball and wall offers an easy way to treat practically any part of your body any time you experience pain. Plus, you’ll be providing yourself with the routine maintenance needed to sustain the effects of your most recent professional treatment.
Ten years ago this month, I quit smoking.
It was February 11, 2008 to be exact. I had been a pack-a-day smoker for close to 15 years. Of course, I smoked the "good for you” cigarettes — American Spirit Lights or “Yellows” as I used to call them at the 7-Eleven counter. But regardless of what I told myself about how relatively healthy they were, a pack’s worth of smoke was still going into my lungs every day.
Unexpectedly, acupuncture was what helped me quit.
Earlier that winter, on a freezing cold day with about a foot of snow on the ground, I was standing outside smoking. It was so cold that my fingers began to hurt, and I had to keep switching which hand held the cigarette and which got the benefit of a glove.
Fed up with the cold, I remember saying aloud, “This is stupid!” and tossing the half-smoked cigarette in the gutter. When I looked up, I saw a sign in a the window of a clinic across the street: “Acupuncture for Smoking Cessation.”
I took that as divine providence and immediately walked across the street. Standing at the receptionist’s desk inside the clinic, I pointed at the sign in the window and blurted out, “I want that.”
Seven acupuncture treatments later, I had stopped smoking for good. I felt better almost immediately, and soon after it dawned on me how cost effective my experience had also been. After 44 days of not buying cigarettes, I had broken even. The savings from not smoking had reached the cost of the acupuncture sessions. On that 45th day, I remember thinking, “I’m now saving anywhere from $6 to $9 a day.” And that was at 2008 prices.
Equally important, this experience put the power of acupuncture on my radar. The treatments that got me to quit smoking were the first acupuncture I had ever received, my first exposure to the art of Chinese medicine, and from there I came to discover many other benefits it could provide. Ten years later, here I am — grateful every day for my decision and for the opportunity to help others improve their health with acupuncture.
If you’d like to discuss the benefit of using acupuncture to quit smoking and you are, like I was, unable to quit on your own, please reach out. From both the patient’s point of view and the practitioner’s, I know exactly what it takes for people to quit smoking with acupuncture and Traditional Asian Medicine.
I have been where you are, and I’m here to help.
My wife and I started a Jar of Awesome last January. (Happy New Year everyone, by the way). I was first exposed to the idea by a podcast from Tim Ferriss I listened to, but I’m not sure the actual origin of the idea.
What is a Jar of Awesome? It’s just a jar that you keep in plain sight, and as awesome things happen, you quickly jot them down and drop them in the jar. When New Year’s Eve comes around, you take them all out and read them, reminding yourself of all the awesomeness in your life. If you’d like to learn more, a quick search online pulls up tons of resources.
Over coffee this morning, we dumped the scraps of paper and took turns reading every single one of them aloud. The whole thing took about 5 minutes.
Here are the three things I took away from the exercise:
The slips of paper from 2017 have found their way to the recycling, and the Jar is set up for the coming year.
There is one slip already in there: “Completing the Jar of Awesome for 2017.”
Years ago, I was moving into my new apartment. I had a 14-foot truck I had rented to get my stuff in, having been told that I could just pull up to the back when I arrived, through the back gate.
As soon as I got there, it was obvious to me there was no way it was going to fit underneath the top of the gate – the clearance was too low. I mean, like, by two feet. Any reasonable person would agree, just by looking.
As I was backing away to figure out Plan B, a guy in a BMW started to come out of that same parking lot, and he decided to stop and give me some advice. He asked me if I was moving in. “Yes,” I said. He said. “why don’t you just pull the truck into the parking lot?” I responded curtly, “The truck won’t fit.”
He paused. He looked at the height of the truck. He looked at the gate.
He looked me straight in the eye and with a slight shrug of his shoulder a hitch of his head said, “Give it a shot.”
I smiled. He’s serious – that much I could tell. I said okay.
I tried. Of course it didn’t fit. I had to park in the alley as my Plan B.
But the significance of that frame of mind wasn’t lost on me. I knew it wasn’t going to work. So did he, after he looked at it for a second.
My attitude was to give up. His was to give it a shot anyway.
I will remember that lesson for the rest of my life. I never saw him again. Heck, he might have just been visiting someone there.
But I have subsequently been giving things a shot, even if at first glance, it seems impossible.
Now, I’m not delusional – I know trying to fit that truck under that clearance wasn’t going to work, and no matter how much I wished, or pretended, or wanted the truck to fit, it wasn’t.
That’s not the point. Because I realized upon reflection later that I often didn’t try – didn’t give it a shot – on things I was much less certain would fail. Giving up without even trying was something I was doing often.
As we begin the new year, no matter where you are on the spectrum, I challenge you to increase your willingness to find ways to implement this.
Give it a shot.