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The Beauty of Acupressure – An Interview with Rachna Mehta

The Beauty of Acupressure – An Interview with Rachna Mehta

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Rachna Mehta, PT, DPT, CIMT, OCS, PRPC is the author and instructor of the Acupressure for Optimal Pelvic Health course. Rachna brings a wealth of experience to her physical therapy practice and has a personal interest in various eastern holistic healing traditions.

One of the main reasons I got into Acupressure was because of my complex orthopedic patients. People who were struggling with chronic pelvic pain, and a lot of my patients were doing complementary and alternative medicine ( CAM ) modalities like Acupuncture and Yoga. That got me interested, because as they were going along with those programs in addition to therapy, the question they always asked was what could they do themselves.

I started looking into Acupressure and found that there was such a big knowledge base, but the information was very scattered. If I found a study that talked about Acupressure points, I wouldn’t know where they were located, what they were good for, where I could use them, or how I could integrate them into my practice. I started to piece the information together and that was the conception of this course Acupressure for Optimal Pelvic Health.

Acupressure for Optimal Pelvic Health  is a two-day course with about an hour and a half of pre-recorded lectures that go over the history of Acupuncture (because Acupressure draws from that), Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) concepts, getting our basics down, and terminology. We talk about the meridian channels, Ying and Yang, and where the meridians and Acupoints are located on the body. Next we delve into the scientific and evidence-based perspectives by taking a look at all of the evidence for Acupuncture and Acupressure.

From there we go into how to read the chart and what are the abbreviations. We have 12 main meridians that we look at and out of those there are 4 that we focus more on for pelvic health. Those are the Bladder, the Kidney, the Stomach, and the Spleen meridians - those have the most points that we focus on. There are also other important points all over the body that help and stimulate the nervous system and tap into the peripheral nervous system, the Qi, and improve the physiological functioning of the organs.

Lectures also talk about the fascial and connective tissue networks, and how Acupoints are located along fascial planes. We discuss the connections of the fascia with the peripheral nervous system and how Acupoints have high electrical conductivity on the surface of the skin (there are instruments that can measure this). Next, we tackle the question of how Acupoints tap into the central nervous system and how there are internal connections to the different organs that can help to heal and promote physiological wellbeing. Acupressure can treat conditions like anxiety, incontinence, constipation, dysmenorrhea and a host of pelvic health conditions. Acupressure is good for so many different things.

On day two of class, we dive into Yin yoga. Yin yoga is a very beautiful form of yoga. It’s a quiet, meditative form of yoga, and it connects the Acupressure points by putting the body in specific poses that stress those tension lines along the meridians. It is a mindful way of putting the body in specific positions and supporting the body with props. It is also a meditative state in which we stay in each pose for about  3 to 5 minutes, and we become still. The main principles of Yin Yoga are that we arrive in a pose, become still and stay for time. We get into a pose and basically, we are meeting our body where it is. It’s also a lot of acceptance and mindfulness. Stillness is something that a lot of people have a hard time doing, be it physical or stillness of the mind.

The beauty of us using Acupressure is that we are musculoskeletal specialists and we are so hands on with all of our patients. If we know exactly where the points are, we can work on those points as we are working on other things such as stretching a muscle, doing range of motion, or just working on fascia. There are a lot of things that we can do for our pelvic health patients in particular, but this is applicable to even our orthopedic patients.

Acupressure is truly a mind-body practice that can be taught to patients in their journey towards self-care, holistic healing and wellness.


Acupressure for Optimal Pelvic Health

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Course Dates:
October 15-16, 2022
February 4-5, 2023
June 3-4, 2023
October 14-15, 2023

Price: $450
Experience Level: Beginner
Contact Hours: 12.5

Description: This is a two-day course that offers an evidence-based perspective on the application of Acupressure for evaluating and treating a host of pelvic health conditions including bowel, bladder, and pelvic pain issues. The course explores a brief history of Acupressure, its roots in Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and presents current evidence that supports the use of complementary and alternative medicine as an adjunct to western medicine. TCM concepts of Meridian theory and energy channels are presented with scientific evidence of Acupoints transmitting energy through interstitial connective tissue with potentially powerful integrative applications through multiple systems.

Lectures will present evidence on the use of potent Acupressure points and combinations of points for treating a variety of pelvic health conditions including chronic pelvic pain, dysmenorrhea, constipation, digestive disturbances, and urinary dysfunctions to name a few. Key acupoints for decreasing anxiety, and stress and bringing the body back to a state of physiological balance are integrated throughout the course. Participants will be instructed through live lectures and demonstrations on the anatomic location and mapping of acupressure points along five major meridians including the spleen, stomach, kidney, urinary bladder, and gall bladder meridians. Key associated points in the pericardium, large intestine, small intestine, lung and liver meridians as well as the governing and conception vessels will also be introduced. The course offers a brief introduction to Yin yoga and explores Yin poses within each meridian to channelize energy through neurodynamic pathways to promote healing across multiple systems. Participants will learn how to create home programs and exercise sequences and will be able to integrate acupressure and Yin yoga into their orthopedic and pelvic health interventions.

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Acupressure: Holistic care for Pregnancy, Labor, and Postpartum

Acupressure: Holistic care for Pregnancy, Labor, and Postpartum

Acupuncture

Rachna Mehta PT, DPT, CIMT, OCS, PRPC, RYT 200 has a personal interest in various eastern holistic healing traditions, and she noticed that many of her chronic pain patients were using complementary health care approaches including acupuncture and yoga. Her course Acupressure for Optimal Pelvic Health brings a unique evidence-based approach and explores complementary medicine as a powerful tool for holistic management of the individual as a whole focusing on the physical, emotional, and energy body.

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There is worldwide concern over the increasing rates of pharmacologically induced labor, opioid use, and operative birth. Women are seeking holistic non-pharmacologic options to avoid medical and surgical interventions in childbirth which has led to the popularity of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) therapies. Despite CAM existing outside of conventional heath systems, a substantial number of women have been found to use CAM to manage their health during pregnancy1.

Among CAM therapies, Acupuncture and Acupressure have been found to be helpful for pregnancy-related symptoms such as nausea, breech presentation, and labor induction with post-partum recovery considerations as well. Acupressure has roots in Acupuncture and is based on more than 3000 years of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM supports Meridian theory and meridians are believed to be energy channels that are connected to the function of the visceral organs. Acupoints located along these meridians transmit Qi or the bio-electric energy through a vast network of interstitial connective tissue connecting the peripheral nervous system to the central viscera.

A systematic review published by Smith et al2 looked at the use of Acupuncture or Acupressure for pain management during labor. They noted that the pain women experience during labor can be intense, with body tension, anxiety, and fear making it worse. The data included a total of 3960 women and found that Acupressure may reduce pain intensity in women experiencing labor pain.

Another RCT published by Levett et al included 176 nulliparous women with low-risk pregnancies, attending hospital-based antenatal clinics. They incorporated six evidence-based complementary medicine techniques: Acupressure, visualization and relaxation, breathing, massage, yoga techniques, and facilitated partner support. Randomization occurred at 24–36 weeks’ gestation, and participants attended a 2-day antenatal education program plus standard care, or standard care alone.

The study found a significant difference between the two groups with the study group having decreased epidural use (23.9%) compared to the standard care group (68.7%). The study group participants also reported a reduced rate of cesarean section and length of the second stage among other measures.

An article published by Debra Betts3 discusses several key considerations for promoting physiological Labor with Acupuncture. Multiple studies have cited the effectiveness of Acupressure by stimulating these powerful Acupoints as well. The author states that the suggestion of Acupoints cited below are based on both her clinical practice and midwifery feedback and are by no means an exhaustive list. The practitioner is encouraged to explore Traditional Chinese Medicine to promote efficient physiological labor in women.

Key considerations for promoting natural physiological labor include:

Is the baby in an optimal anterior position? The author states “Women can become involved in their own treatment by learning proactive positioning. This involves a woman keeping her knees lower than her hips when sitting, in order to assist gravity in moving her baby into the best possible position. Bucket‑type seats such as car seats and comfy sofas, therefore, need to be abandoned in favor of birthing balls, sitting astride chairs (with the arms resting on the back).” Key acupuncture points that can be stimulated include Bladder 60 ( BL 60), Spleen 6 (Sp 6), and Bladder 67 (BL 67). Bladder 60 (BL 60) is considered an empirical induction point. Midwifery feedback suggests that this is a useful point for promoting an optimal position of the baby for birth. Bladder 67 (BL 67) is considered an extremely important point if the baby is not in an anterior position.

Is the woman emotionally prepared for labor? While most women have some level of underlying anxiety or fear about the approaching birth, it is essential to address any significant emotional disharmony. The hormone oxytocin is released several weeks prior to labor, initially stimulating uterine contractions at night, with increasing production then aiding the transition into labor. Stress hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenaline have a direct inhibiting effect on natural oxytocin release, and therefore play a very significant role in inhibiting contractions2. Key acupuncture points that can be stimulated include Kidney 1 (KD 1), Liver 3 (Liv 3), and Pericardium 6 (P6) among others. Kidney 1 (K1) is useful for women who are experiencing fear of induction or childbirth itself. Liver 3 (Lv 3) is helps in improving Liver chi. Pericardium 6 (P6) is helpful for nausea, regulating the heart and calming.

Is the woman physically prepared for labor? Women may be physically exhausted or have pre-existing physical conditions that, once addressed, will help to promote physiological labor2. Key acupuncture points that can be stimulated include Bladder 43 (BL 43) and Stomach 36 (St 36). Bladder 43 ( BL 43) is A point that tonifies and nourishes the Lung, Heart, Kidneys, Spleen, and Stomach. Stomach 36 (ST 36) is a useful point to reinforce if the woman is exhausted, due to its qi-tonifying and blood-nourishing properties.

Stimulating contractions:  Debra Betts also notes that key points of the Bladder meridian that are located on the sacrum are crucial in initiating contractions. While Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) does consider some Acupuncture points like Large Intestine 4 (LI 4), Gall Bladder 21 (GB 21), and Spleen 6 (Sp 6) should not be stimulated in pregnant women, the opposite is true when we want to initiate labor and these points can be additionally used to assist in stimulating contractions.

Acupressure can also be used in the post-partum period for overall generalized well-being, promoting a sense of bonding with the baby, calm, and relaxation.

Acupressure can be used to stimulate key energy points also known as Acupoints in various meridians and as hands-on musculoskeletal specialists, we can use and teach this modality to our patients. Acupressure requires no equipment, is easy for clinicians to teach and for patients to self-administer when taught correctly, and is an empowering self-care tool to promote optimal health outcomes.

The course Acupressure for Optimal Pelvic Health focuses on powerful Acupressure points in key Meridians including the Kidney, Bladder, Spleen, and Stomach meridians. It also explores Yin Yoga as an integrative intervention with Acupressure. Yin Yoga, a derivative of Hath Yoga is a wonderful complimentary practice to Acupressure. Yin Yoga is a slow and calm meditative practice that uses seated and supine poses that are held for three to five minutes with deep breathing. It stimulates the energy flow through the meridian channels by creating tension along specific meridian lines.

This course is curated and taught by Rachna Mehta. To learn how to integrate Acupressure into your clinical practice, join the next scheduled remote course on June 25- 26, 2022.


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References

  1. Steel A, Adams J, Sibbritt D, Broom A. The Outcomes of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use among Pregnant and Birthing Women: Current Trends and Future Directions. Women’s Health. May 2015:309-323. doi:10.2217/WHE.14.84.
  2. Smith CA, Collins CT, Levett KM, et al. Acupuncture or acupressure for pain management during labour. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020;2(2): CD009232.
  3. Betts, Debra. Inducing Labour with Acupuncture–Crucial Considerations. Journal of Chinese Medicine. 2009;90: 20-25.
  4. Atkins KL, Fogarty S, Feigel ML. Acupressure and Acupuncture Use in the Peripartum Period. Clin Obstet Gynecol. 2021;64(3):558-571. doi:10.1097/GRF.0000000000000636.
  5. Levett, Kate M., Smith, C.A., Bensoussan, A. & Dahlen, H.G. Complementary therapies for labour and birth study: a randomized controlled trial of antenatal integrative medicine for pain management in labour.  BMJ Open, 2016 Jul 12;6(7):e010691. DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010691.
  6. Schlaeger JM, Gabzdyl EM, Bussell JL, et al. Acupuncture and Acupressure in Labor. J Midwifery Women's Health. 2017;62(1):12-28. doi:10.1111/jmwh.12545.

Acupressure for Optimal Pelvic Health 
Instructor: Rachna Mehta PT, DPT, CIMT, OCS, PRPC, RYT 200

Price: $450
Experience Level: Beginner
Contact Hours: 12.5

Course Dates: June 25-26, 2022 and October 15-16, 2022

Course Description:
This continuing education course is a two-day seminar that offers participants an evidence-based perspective on the application of Acupressure for evaluating and treating a host of pelvic health conditions including bowel, bladder, and pelvic pain issues. The course explores a brief history of Acupressure, its roots in Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and presents current evidence that supports the use of complementary and alternative medicine as an adjunct to western medicine. TCM concepts of Meridian theory and energy channels are presented with scientific evidence of Acupoints transmitting energy through interstitial connective tissue with potentially powerful integrative applications through multiple systems.

Lectures will present evidence on the use of potent Acupressure points and combinations of points for treating a variety of pelvic health conditions including chronic pelvic pain, dysmenorrhea, constipation, digestive disturbances, and urinary dysfunctions to name a few. Key acupoints for decreasing anxiety, and stress and bringing the body back to a state of physiological balance are integrated throughout the course.

Participants will be instructed through live lectures and demonstrations on the anatomic location and mapping of acupressure points along five major meridians including the spleen, stomach, kidney, urinary bladder, and gall bladder meridians. Key associated points in the pericardium, large intestine, small intestine, lung and liver meridians as well as the governing and conception vessels will also be introduced. The course offers a brief introduction to Yin yoga and explores Yin poses within each meridian to channel energy through neurodynamic pathways to promote healing across multiple systems. Participants will learn how to create home programs and exercise sequences and will be able to integrate acupressure and Yin yoga into their orthopedic and pelvic health interventions.

Special Considerations and Lab materials
The labs for this course will involve external whole-body palpation and mapping of acupressure points. Please wear fitted t-shirt and leggings or yoga pants for acupressure point mapping. Participants should buy a pack of 1-inch diameter white circle stickers to be used in Labs for mapping acupressure points.

Participants are encouraged to use a Yoga mat if available and any other props they may have at home including yoga blocks, small blankets, towels and pillows to be used in the guided Yin Yoga Lab portion of the course.

Recommended resources: It is recommended that participants purchase an Acupressure Point Chart for ease of following the course work and labs in this course. Since the accuracy of points and content may vary on different charts, it is recommended to buy a copy at https://acupressure.com/products/acupressure-charts/

Target Audience:
This continuing education seminar is targeted to rehabilitation professionals who use manual therapy as a treatment modality. Knowledge of acupressure points with specific anatomical landmarks will enable clinicians to add to their toolbox skills for treating a variety of pelvic health conditions related to the bowel, and bladder and treatment of pelvic pain.

Prerequisites:
It is recommended that the participants have a working knowledge of the functional anatomy of pelvic floor muscles as well as various associated pelvic health conditions. Pelvic Floor 1 through Herman & Wallace is strongly recommended.

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