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Understanding Hip and Back Pain – and Doing Something About It

acupuncture back pain exercise tcm

When I put in a needle and someone feels their Qi moving, which feels like a small volt of electricity or a deep throb, they ask “What WAS that point?”  Many people also want to understand how acupuncture works a little better.  This is when I would just refer somone to a book on acupuncture.  I had a realization that understanding the meridian systems can help you heal faster.  

When I’m figuring out what points to use in a treatment, I first see which meridians run through those pain areas.  Meridians are the pathways along which your Qi circulates.  There are 12 main meridians in Chinese Medicine, and those are connected to internal organs.  There are also 8 “extra” meridians, which are lines of energy travel, but mostly consist of reconnecting the points found on the other, main meridians.  

Most back pain involves one or more of these meridians:  Bladder (leg Tai Yang), the “extra” Belt (Dai) Vessel, and the Gall Bladder (leg Shao Yang). 

Not that there is anything wrong with those organs!  It’s just a location, for now.  

The needles work by stimulating parts of the meridian system.  You can also work on treating your pain at home by doing movements that stimulate those meridians! 

There are 4 main ways to go about this.  


One way to directly stimulate the meridians related to your lower back is you can foam roll along the meridians.  Even rolling on the leg portion of the bladder or gall bladder meridian can benefit the entire meridian.  (Only foam roll through professional instruction!)  Heat therapy and massage are other examples of direct stimulation.  


You can test your back range of motion with this quick chair exercise video I’m showing below here. 

Sit with your hips level.  Throughout the exercise, make sure one hip doesn't lift up.  Put your hands together in front of you so you only use your waist to turn. 

Without lifting your hips or bending sideways, see how far you can twist to one side.  Breathe 3-5 deep and slow breaths, then do the other side.  

Testing your range also can show you more exactly where your mobility is limited – where you feel stuck – and you can focus more on that.  Working on your range also improves your range, otherwise known as flexibility


In this scenario, the health of the internal organs can contribute to the health of the meridian.  A healthy Gall Bladder (emotionally, correct foods, detoxing) and Bladder (healthy balance of bacteria and flora, healthy epithelial cells, proper rest) keeps your body strong, energetic, and resilient.  


A strong back includes the back muscles, and also the muscles that balance the back, namely, the front.  The front meridians include the Kidney, the Liver, the Conception vessel, the Spleen, and the Stomach meridians.  These meridians cross through your legs, torso, and neck.  Movements can include core strengthening, balance, and posture work.  

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