Benefits of a Dually Licensed Acupuncturist - Massage Therapist

I began my chosen career path of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (CAM), as a massage therapist, with t rips to Asia. Thai massage was a skill I wanted to learn and a way for me to engage my heritage. In 2005, I completed training in Traditional Thai Bodywork through the Sunshine Network on the island of Koh Tao in the Gulfof Thailand. By 2007, I enrolled at NYC's Swedish Institute, the oldest continuously operating massage therapy institution in the US. There I studied Deep Tissue with a western medical approach, alongside Shiatsu, an eastern massage modality with focus on five element theory and meridian systems. Both Thai massage and Shiatsu incorporate martial arts moves, rhythmic pushing and pulling and the use of therapist thumbs, palm, forearm, knees, and feet. It came most natural to add Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy® (AOBT), a modern form of barefoot bodywork to my repertoire because of my past training in eastern therapies.

But after 10 years of very physical work, I wanted to be able to work smarter, not harder and give my patients longer-lasting relief. I believe this can be achieved with a combination of Acupuncture and Massage, as well as other healing modalities.

Within a treatment, I integrate my anatomical knowledge and palpation skills learned over the past decade to implement tailored acupuncture sessions that address pain and dis-ease. I am aware of my limitations within massage therapy; knowing I am only addressing an issue at a superficial, muscular or fascial level. The needles allow me to access a deeper level. I access Qi differently. I often seek a "Qi sensation" with my needle technique and depth.

"Acupuncture stimulation elicits DeQi , a composite of unique sensations. According to Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), DeQi experienced by patients is often described as suan (aching or soreness), ma (num bness or tingling), zhang (fullness, distention, or pressure), and zhong (heaviness) and is felt by the acupuncturists (needle grasping) as tense, tight, and full. It is believed that DeQi may be an important variable in the studies of the mechanism and efficacy of acupuncture treatment. In recent years, great efforts have been made to understand deqi, which include a couple of questionnaires to qualify and quantify deqi sensations, neuroimaging studies of deqi and acupuncture, physiological mechanisms of deqi, and the relation between deqi and clinical efficacy."

- Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 319734, 7 pages

Some patients have asked me about this needle sensation they are experiencing and what is the difference between styles of Acupuncture. I was once told by a professor that Japanese style Acupuncture is like fishing on a lake. You do not throw rocks at the water to make the fish appear. You gently bob a floating object at the surface to attract the fish to swim up, then they are hooked. The fish in this story is your body's Qi. The lure is the practitioners needle.

However, I do not practice this way. I was taught a slightly more assertive technique, which I would like to compare to spearfishing! I am trying to grasp the qi strongly at times, so that it almost feels like a massage. One may even be sore afterwards in a localized area. This is the way I was taught and I find it most effective for pain and not at all painful, but at times surprising, because the impulse of the bodily reaction is subconscious. The needles are as thin as a hair follicle, they bend and maneuver around blood vessels and veins. A good needle insertion should rarely be felt, DeQi is the objective.

I am most excited to work with both acute and chronic injury and pain at 2BWell. Pain is something we all have, but it does not have to be constant or an unshared burden. I find great fulfillment in helping people reach their wellness-centered goals.

Amy Hastanan, LMT, LAc