Acupuncture Q & A

Q: Can I exercise after an acupuncture treatment?

A: Yes, but it would be better to wait 24 hours if possible. If the same day is your only opportunity to exercise, the it is better to exercise day of, then not at all, however, if you are exercising on the same day as an acupuncture treatment, then “take it down a notch”. 

One of the many ways that your acupuncture treatments are helping you, is by “activating” your immune system. When a needle “breaks through” your skin, it is signaling to your body that “something has happened!” The skin is broken, and it sets up your bodys’ own alarm system. The immune system then sends a “team” of cells over to the site of the needle to investigate what’s going on. Is it a virus? Bacteria? After about ten minutes, the investigation team see that there’s no cause for an alarm, that it’s just a sterile, stainless steel needle, and there’s nothing to fight. At this point, the immune system sends another group of cells (mainly anti-inflammatory and analgesic/pain-killing) to clean up that initial investigative response. Because we’ve set this all in motion, those cells are going to go on, and keep cleaning up debris and other problems, INCLUDING the areas that you can in complaining of (IE back pain). So essentially we’re activating your immune system, and giving them a job to perform, and a direction as to where they’re supposed to be doing. 

Now, if you go exercise, what is happening? Well, by exercising, especially if vigorously, you are breaking down muscle tissue, and guess what that does? It activates your immune system! Your body has to repair that broken down tissue (that’s what makes you stronger). The problem is that that “signal” you are giving your immune system from the exercise can override what we are trying to do with treatment, so your body might pay more attention to the muscle tissue that you’ve just broken down with exercise as opposed to the work that we are going with the acupuncture session. 

Because of this, I recommend that people wait 24 hours after an acupuncture session to go exercise. If it is the only chance they have to exercise over the following few days, then I think it’s more important to get the exercise in, then to skip it, I just recommend that you lessen the intensity to that there is less muscle break-down, and less recovery required of the immune system. 

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