You Can Keep Your Socks on if You Want

When I first started learning Dr Tan’s Balance Method it was a huge adjustment from how I’d learned to use acupuncture in school. Dr Tan taught us distal needlng: placing needles away from the site we’re treating instead of close to it. Distal points are below the knee, below the elbow, on the head and at the ears. But because all the body’s channels, also known as meridians, are connected (you can think of meridians as highways for the body’s qi, or life force) we can treat the whole body without requiring that anyone take off their clothes. 

This allows for huge flexibility with regards to point choice. All acupuncturists have their favourite points and their go-to areas; my tendency is to use points on the back of the hand and inside of the elbow for low back pain. But if someone doesn’t want any needles in their upper limbs, it’s not a problem. There are points around the ankles and knees and at the scalp that are equally effective for low back pain. 

We’ve treated people who would only consent to treatment if they couldn’t see any of the needles—no problem. Scalp acupuncture and ear points work well together. Once a new patient came in and asked if he could keep his shoes on—his anxiety was so high that he needed to know that he could bolt from the room at any time. He kept his shoes on and dozed off in the recliner. 

If you’d like to have one or two hands free in order to hold your book, no problem. If you don’t want to take your tights off, if your sleeves won’t roll up to the elbow, if you had head points last time but today you need to keep your hat on because you’re not used to the new haircut yet, no problem. 

Flexibility of point choice means that you can always say No thanks to a certain point without compromising the effectiveness of your treatment. We can always change a point prescription on the fly—Dr Tan gave us so many options to choose from. 

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