What To Do After Acupuncture – Revealing From 30 Years Practice



Knowing what to do after the acupuncture session will make a difference in maximising the benefit of your acupuncture treatment, observing from my 30 years of practice.

You may feel blissfully relaxed, flared up with pain, or stirred up suppressed emotions after acupuncture.  To know WHY you have these reactions, check out the article “What to expect after acupuncture“. To learn WHAT to do to speed up your healing, you can follow these steps.

The key purpose of these practices is to avoid being counterproductive to the acupuncture process and also to elongate the benefit of relaxation and energy reset. First, let’s look at what shoulder be avoid.

Not-to-Dos After Acupuncture

By limiting these events, you are calm your stress reactions which allow the body to stay in a relaxed state and deepen the energy reset.

Intense physical activities

When you have an acupuncture session with a holistic approach, your body has done a reset of the entire energy system. It would relax your muscles and lower the stress hormones and even slow down your breath. Your body is likely to feel tired and relaxed instead of go for action.

As a rule of thumb, you will do intense exercise after an overnight rest. It echos an old English saying: “sleep on it“- delay of any intense actions on your body until the following day, so your body has time to reset and recalibrate.

For some reason, you insist on exercising. Then, I recommend to work out at a level that does not cause out of breath or dripping sweating. A hard workout would activate your stress hormones. A moderate exercise would allow a gentle blood flow throughout the body to add relaxation. Having sex is counted as intense activity.

Massage or other manual therapy

Massage or other manual therapies can be some form of stimulus to your body. While your body just had the energy reset by acupuncture, it can be confused to receive another force of readjusting its flow. It is preferred to have them on the other day.

Sauna or Bath

The intense heat from Sauna and bath is considered an extra stimulation that may undo the energy reset. However hot showers are okay after acupuncture.

Coffee or Alcohol

Coffee and Alcohol are other forms of stimulus which may disturb the balanced energy state. Drinking warm water and herbal teas are recommended.

Ice packs

While acupuncture is all about improving blood circulation, using ice on pain sites would block the blood flow which is counterproductive. Applying heat while resting is recommended for the pain flare-up after the session.

When you eliminated all the not-to-dos, you are halfway there. When you follow whatever remaining Dos, you are able to supercharge your recovery.

To-Dos After Acupuncture

Allow extra time to relax after acupuncture

Drinking warm tea, take time to yawn and zone out, or simply sitting under the sun would do the trick. If you have to go back to work after acupuncture, I recommend operating at a “soft-pedaling” mode, thus not kick in stimuli. However, zone out in front of a TV show or browsing on social media is not relaxing. It stirring up emotions and zap your energy.

Allow extra time for nap or sleep

If you feel sleepy after acupuncture, take a nap or go to bed earlier on the same day. It enables a fast-track of energy recharge for your body. I have many patients who slept 10+ hours after the session and feeling great afterward.

Allow emotions to flow openly

As suppressed emotions are merged to the surface and the heavy lid of the emotion container has melted away by the acupuncture, I have seen patients cried for hours after acupuncture. Some said it was so satisfying able to express emotions openly like a kid again. The suppressed emotional stress in the body is similar to the pressure inside a volcano. After an eruption, it would return to a dormant stage. Just try to be a 5-years old yourself, to express your feelings openly which allows you to return to an emotionally neutral state.

Pain Flared-up? Allow pain to be there, relax into it

If the pain flared up again after acupuncture, most of them don’t last more than 24 hours. By relaxing into the pain with mindful breathing, you may notice the pain is often manageable. It could serve as an opportunity to train you to be present and be more resilient with pain. Physically, allow your body to have more rest and apply heat packs and use one-off painkillers if needed. As far as the pain, it is short-lived, you know you can handle it. Please Do not add fear on top of the pain.

Aware and note down changes and report back on your next visit.

Because the reactions happen on multiple levels, and along with busy life, you can lose track of what has happened. Note down a few keywords and share them with your acupuncturist on your next visit. Aware of any changes in your sleeping pattern, energy levels, appetite, bowel movement, and any new pain sites.

Every little step counts

In the ideal world, if you follow all these steps, you are likely to experience more profound positive changes with your acupuncture treatment. Yet, in this time-poor and multitasking living, every little change is encouraged. By simply avoid TV and social media, going to bed earlier, giving yourself brief moments to zone out – when accumulating these small steps together, it can be transformational.

Most importantly, have an open mind for all possibilities when you try acupuncture to help your health condition. Surprise changes may happen at mental, energy, and physical levels. Just remember: What’s in the way is the way!

You may also like to find out:

  1. How do I know acupuncture is working?
  2. How long it takes to see the result of acupuncture?
  3. How to prepare for first acupuncture?
  4. What to expect after acupuncture?

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22 Comments

  1. Ashley Goldsmith says:

    Hi there.
    I recently had acupuncture for chronic neck/upper shoulder pain, along with extreme anxiety/stress.

    I sat up for treatment vs laying down. I fainted upon needle insertion after 2 going into my hands. It was very early in the acupuncture session. Some in my upper back at that point. After waking, I was making vocalizations (feeling like panic) when I woke up, I than vomited for several hours afterwards. It was quite extreme. They have been very kind and concerned. As am I. Is there any part of this that can be a result of dealing with past emotions/anxiety? Would love insight.

    • Qiang Chen says:

      Hi Ashley, Thank you for sharing your experience. I have seen patients who have had similar or even stronger reactions. What I would suggest to my patients would be — Let your body release the tension naturally, DO NO try to make sense of these reactions. A fainting reaction is almost like pressing CTL, ALT and Del on your energy system and inducing a system reset.

  2. Arun says:

    Hello, does acupressure count as massage/manual therapy? I have had acupuncture today (1st session) and have just been massaging stomach 36 this evening. Hoping I have not interfered with the effects of my acupuncture treatment!

    Many thanks

    • Qiang Chen says:

      Hi Arun, Massage St36 is an instruction I gave to my patients as a complementary self-help tool. So you are ok to use it.

  3. Laurie says:

    I had my first acupuncture treatment today and it was followed by hot stone work and massage is that ok? It was all done by the acupuncturist herself. She worked a lot to try to reduce knots in my neck and shoulders. I am quite sore.

    • Qiang Chen says:

      Hi Laurie, I use to do a similar protocol and thinking “the more the merrier”. However, It usually will be end up with a strong reactions, ie. aching body, that lasts a few days. It mat not be your best acupuncture experience, but it is ok and you will feel much better in a few days.

  4. Angela says,
    Jan 13,2023
    I’ve been going to a wellness center & getting massage, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, sauna sometimes & chiro therapy all in the same visit. I have chronic pain in knees , spine& new problem in shoulder, neck down to numbness in hand. I’m not sure this should all be done in one visit 2 times a week. It all seems to help but I’ve had acpunture from other drs before for years & my body does like the needles. I just not sure this is good all at one visit. Thx u

    • Qiang Chen says:

      Hi Angela,
      If we use food as an example, some like to have a simple dish while some like to try a buffet. While you can have a buffet occasionally and light meals are better for everyday living. Thus the same for your energy system to receive stimulations.

  5. Roseanna says:

    Hello, I just had acupuncture today for the first time in ten years. My acupuncturist was very gentle and informative of the treatment she was going to prescribe. I felt tingling down my legs through my feet when she gave treatment to my tummy, felt some muscle tension release to my left foot for the stresses on my right neck shoulder and felt some amazing tingling when she released the needles around my ears hands and right leg. I currently feel the some mind stress release aches across my back shoulder and overall warm body sensations. the chrysanthemum tea has been pleasant. I so glad I found another amazing therapist. Thank you for your article. It has been helpful. Happy New Year.

    • Qiang Chen says:

      Hi Roseanna, Happy New Year! Thank you for sharing your acupuncture experience. It is a pleasure to see you enjoyed it and have such a positive response.

  6. Daniela De Luna says:

    Acupuncture always makes me feel “worse” before I feel better. I suffer from anxiety and palpitations and, for some reason, the first day I feel really bad as if my body is reacting to something with a mini anxiety attack but then the next day is so much better and my condition is improving. Hopefully I am in the right path

  7. Liz says:

    I just had my first acupuncture visit on Monday, 2/6/23. I felt really relaxed after. When I got home I felt my energy levels dropped. That same night I was warm and I woke up with flu symptoms, nauseous and sore. The second and third days I had diarrhea and still a little nauseous. When will I start feeling better? I am afraid to do follow up sessions if I’m going to get sick every time.

    • Qiang Chen says:

      Hi Liz, It seems you are having exactly the same healing response I mentioned. Do you notice that the main complaint that brought to you to acupuncture in the first place has been improving? If so, keep going!

  8. Leigh says:

    Thank you for this helpful article. I have acupuncture scheduled for the next 4 weeks. Should I wait to schedule a massage until after the 4 weeks? Or would it be okay to have massage in between accupuncture visits? I want to serve myself the best I can and not disrupt the work of the needles. My Dr has a strong accent, and I don’t speak Chinese languages at all, so Im not sure we understood each other when I asked him. Thank you for your help!

    • Qiang Chen says:

      Hi Leigh, You can do massages in between acupuncture sessions as far as it is not on the same day. All the best!

  9. Terri says:

    Hello, I have a question? I just had my first Accupuncture and massage treatment for migraine, anxiety and sleep issues. After my appointment I noticed my migraine that I went in with was gone. And I was very tired feeling an hour later , I had a restless night of sleep, up every two hours and woke feeling tired all the next day. Second day I had pain in my neck that was not there before along with high anxiety and the headache came back 10 fold. Now I’m not sure I want to go to my second appointment? Why does Accupuncture make you feel worse in other places ? And will this continue to happen?

    • Qiang Chen says:

      Hi Terri, If you have continued your sessions, you probably have landed in a calm water now and enjoy the benefit of acupuncture. Indeed, in the first couple of sessions, you can have some pain release like that.

  10. Erin says:

    My accupuncturist is great, I don’t like to cry in front of anyone, but sometimes it’s hard to cry, and when she steps out of the room after the needles are inserted, I fight so hard not to cry, because of learned behavior from long ago. She doesn’t make fun of me for crying but I hide tears, I’m so ashamed to cry, but the tears just come down, I don’t like that. I just want this pressure in my head to stop, and be like I used to be. I wish there was a way to speed up the process, it’s like I’m stuck. Don’t sleep,

    • Qiang Chen says:

      Hi Erin, Is thhere any child shamed of crying? It is the most natural thing we have as a human being. It is an effective down-grading regulating of our nerve system. There are patients cry in our clinic almost every day. Please be kind to yourself and be the 3 years old Erin again.

  11. Jane Avellino says:

    I have been going for acupuncture for 3 months, twice a week for anxiety and acid reflux. My anxiety has diminished quite a bit and the acid reflux is non existant. While my anxiety is less, I feel depressed, irritable and impatient. Is this normal ?

    • Qiang Chen says:

      Hi Jane, congrates on your progress. Please see these emotions are the second layer come to the surface. Yes, this is the part of the healing. keep going.
      C

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