Can Acupuncture Treatments Relieve Work-Related Stress?

When you think of Wall Street brokers having a power lunch, you probably imagine a dark-paneled dining room, steaks, and martinis. That’s the cultural vision of what powerful people do at lunchtime. However, there’s a new trend that’s developing and it’s one that might surprise you. Some of Wall Street’s most successful brokers are blocking out time in the middle of the work day for acupuncture.

While acupuncture might not seem like an obvious choice for financial movers and shakers, there’s actually a very good reason for its popularity. Acupuncture is commonly used as a treatment for pain, but it also provides reliable relief from the stress and tension of work.

The Rising Popularity of Acupuncture

Irina Logman is the founder of Advanced Holistic Center, a health and wellness practice based in New York. The Center has multiple locations around the country, but its Manhattan locations are the ones seeing a big uptick in stress-related appointments.

She says that the Center’s main source of income are New Yorkers working in finance. “I’ve definitely noticed an overall growing trend. When I began my practice in Brooklyn 15 years ago, I never imagined that I’d be in the hub of Wall Street treating the finance crowd… but, it makes sense.”

She points out that people who work in finance are often overworked and stressed out. Some may pop a pill or two to help them manage non-physical symptoms of anxiety, depression, or insomnia, but there’s an increasing awareness that medication is only a short-term solution.

The trend, it seems, is toward seeking out holistic and natural lifestyle changes that can help people balance their lives and emotions, leaving them better equipped to handle work challenges and still have the mental and emotional energy to enjoy their lives away from work, too.

Many of the Center’s clients book appointments during their lunch hours. It’s a way of alleviating stress and tension without needing to take a long lunch or fit an evening appointment into their family obligations.

How Does Acupuncture Relieve Stress?

The key to understanding the acupuncture trend of Wall Street is understanding how acupuncture works to relieve stress. There’s ample research into the use of acupuncture for pain relief and management, but its use as a treatment for stress is not as well-established.

People who receive acupuncture treatments for pain often report an elevated sense of relaxation and well-being after a treatment. The explanation for this is that acupuncture, when done properly:

  • Removes pain by accessing pressure points and sending healing messages to the body
  • Raises the patient’s pain threshold, thus reducing their negative reactions to pain
  • Releases happy hormones called endorphins into the body

Endorphins are the same hormones that cause the condition known as “runner’s high.” They can be released by any vigorous exercise.

When your body or mind are stressed, you’re in “fight or flight” mode, which means that your body’s sympathetic nervous system is at the wheel. When that happens, it’s virtually impossible to relax because your entire body is poised for combat.

Endorphins flip a switch in your body and put the parasympathetic nervous system, or relaxation system, in control. As stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol leave your body, you’ll experience a subsequent relaxation of your muscles and your mind.

The Keys to a Good Acupuncture Relationship

Logman points out that even when Wall Street’s power brokers seek out acupuncture, there’s a learning curve involved. After all, acupuncture is an invasive procedure. People who aren’t accustomed to it may need some time to acclimate.

For that reason, she recommends having a good talk with your acupuncturist before initiating treatment. “Especially for first-timers, [there are] many different sensations. The practitioner should always create an environment where the patient feels free to describe these sensations and ask if they are normal.”

For patients who prefer a less-invasive procedure, Logman sometimes recommends using heat lamps that hover over the most stressed and painful parts of the body. As patients progress, she may move on to something called e-stim, which partners traditional acupuncture needles with a gentle electric impulses to stimulate the muscles.

Whatever your treatment preferences, it’s always a good idea to choose a practitioner who makes you feel comfortable.

Conclusion

Wall Street’s elite are seeking out alternative treatments for stress. While medications that treat anxiety, depression, and pain may offer short-term solutions, there’s a growing trend toward holistic treatments that can relieve stress and anxiety without the use of prescription drugs. Acupuncture may be the best way to keep stress at bay.

Are Your Fashion Choices Contributing to Back Pain?

Back pain is the most common type of chronic pain, both in the United States and around the world. According to the American Chiropractic Association, half of all working adults in the US report experiencing back pain at least once a year. A whopping 80% of people will experience back pain at some point in their lives.

How can we make sense of those numbers? Perhaps the most important thing to do is to understand the small decisions you make every day that may cause or contribute to back pain. For some people – and for women in particular – the issue may begin when they decide what to wear in the morning.

High Heels and Back Pain

The first fashion culprit when it comes to back pain probably won’t surprise you. Wearing high heels might make your legs look great, but it’s not doing your spine any favors. High heels force your feet into an unnatural position by pushing your toes down and to the front. Elevating your heels applies pressure to the ball of your foot, which can be painful. The balls of your feet aren’t meant to support your body weight over an entire day.

Wearing high heels can cause bunions, a painful condition that pushes the bone on the side of your big toe out while pushing your toes together. It also shortens your calf muscles. That’s a problem because it changes your gait, causing your back to arch and requiring you to use your back muscles to remain upright.

The bottom line is that high heels put pressure on your toes, back, and even your neck and shoulders. A better alternative if you want some added height is to wear platform shoes with no more than two-inch heel in the back.

Backless Shoes and Back Pain

Mules, or backless shoes, are always popular – but wearing them may be putting too much strain on your back. There are several reasons that wearing them might not be a good idea:

  • They do not provide good arch support
  • They don’t always stay on your feet
  • They can tighten the arch of your foot and alter your gait
  • Altering your foot position and gait can impact your spine

Does that mean you should never wear mules? No, but it does mean that you should choose your mules with care and wear them only when you don’t have a lot of walking to do. One of the best ways to test a mule is to put it on and then shake your foot. If the shoe stays on your foot, you probably won’t need to scrunch your toes while you walk.

You should also try walking in mules before you buy them. If you find that you can’t walk with your natural, long stride, then look for another pair.

Handbags and Back Pain

Carrying a handbag or purse is second nature to most women, but it turns out that even carrying a small bag can strain your back, neck, and shoulders.

The obvious culprit is weight. If you’re carrying an oversized handbag, laptop bag, or purse, the weight can pull down on your shoulder, putting strain on both your spine and your neck. You can minimize the risk of developing back pain by lightening your load. For example, you might downsize your purse or try leaving certain items at home or in the office instead of carrying them back and forth every day.

Even a small bag can be problematic. If you’ve ever found yourself hunching your shoulder to keep your bag’s strap from slipping off, you might be putting unnecessary strain on your shoulder, neck, and back. As an alternative, you might try a small backpack or cross-body bag.

Cell Phones and Back Pain

Finally, you may want to rethink the way you use your cell phone. While it’s not really a fashion accessory in the same way shoes and handbags are, few of us leave home without a cell phone.

The problem is in how we hold our phones. If you’re holding your phone in your hand and bending your neck to look at it, you’re putting pressure on your cervical spine. Over time, this can lead to a condition called “text neck.”

The solution? Hold your phone in one hand, rest your elbow against your abdomen, and hold your phone up and in front of you, so you can see it without bending your neck. That way, your spine can remain in proper alignment while you check your texts.

Conclusion

If you want to prevent back pain, start with your wardrobe. Replacing high heels with platforms, minimizing the time you spend wearing backless shoes, choosing the right handbag, and changing the way you hold your cell phone will ensure that your back stays in proper alignment throughout the day.

Reaves Chiropractic