Acupuncture

Is Acupuncture Part of Massage Therapy?

Dr. Carl Clarkson
Dr. Carl Clarkson February 1, 2022
Is Acupuncture Part of Massage Therapy

As a massage therapist, you may sometimes be asked questions about other interventions and if, or how well, they work together. You may even be asked if they are all a part of the same therapy. In this article, we specifically look at whether or not acupuncture is a part of massage therapy, and how well they work together. 

So, is acupuncture a part of massage therapy? Acupuncture is usually not considered to be a part of massage therapy; however, the two interventions can be quite powerful when used together. Integrating acupuncture and massage therapy has the potential to enhance the effects of each treatment, particularly if treatments aren’t working as expected. 

Read on to learn more about how acupuncture can, in fact, be a part of massage therapy. 

Is Acupuncture Part of Massage Therapy?

Acupuncture is not traditionally considered to be a part of massage therapy; however, many practitioners are now beginning to see the benefits of integrating the two therapies in order to maximise results. This doesn’t necessarily mean that a massage will be administered whilst acupuncture needles are in the body, more that one treatment will be taken after the other within a short timeframe. 

It may not be a part of the same therapy, but integrating therapies such as acupuncture and massage may also help in cases where the primary intervention (massage therapy) is not delivering the desired outcome and is having limited success. Recommending a secondary intervention (in this case acupuncture) that works in synergy with the original intervention has the potential to enhance the effects of each individual therapy, thus maximising results. 

Should You Have Acupuncture Before or After Massage Therapy?

Considering the above, many would now wonder whether clients should have acupuncture before or after the massage therapy. Some claim that it’s better to have a massage first, whilst others claim it’s better to have acupuncture first. Both ways have their reasons, but the most important thing clients must consider is how they physically feel after the first therapy; this can have a knock on effect, and may impact their overall results. 

Massage First

Some find that massage before acupuncture helps to put the body into a relaxed state, preparing the body for acupuncture. A relaxed body is more likely to take to acupuncture, and may enhance the benefits. 

This is particularly beneficial to those that exercise regularly, play sports, have a hectic lifestyle, or are simply in need of relaxation. However, those with less stressful, more sedentary lives may find that having either therapy first doesn’t have that much of an impact on results. 

That said, some massages will have a larger impact on the body than others; a regular massage shouldn’t have a negative impact on the body, however, deep tissue massage and sports massage may leave the body feeling sore, meaning that it might not be a good idea to have one before acupuncture. 

It’s your job to make your clients aware of any implication of having another intervention before or after their session with you. 

Can You Combine Acupuncture and Massage?

Combining acupuncture and massage in the same treatment may not be wise. The various techniques used in massage therapy have the potential to unintentionally stimulate the needles, which may have negative effects. Instead, it is safer to recommend that clients schedule individual treatments, taken one after the other. 

Benefits of Integrating Acupuncture into Massage Therapy

We’ve already mentioned that integrating acupuncture and massage therapy can enhance benefits, but what actually are the benefits of integrating acupuncture and massage therapy?

  • Pain Relief - Both massage therapy and acupuncture claim to benefit pain relief individually, but together they create a synergy that has the potential to enhance pain relief.
  • Relaxation - Massage leaves the body feeling relaxed, which can make acupuncture more effective. 
  • Recovery and/or Rehabilitation - Both treatments work well individually to aid recovery or rehabilitation; however, when used together treatment may be more effective. What’s more, massage helps to increase circulation, whilst acupuncture aids in reducing inflammation, accelerating the healing process. 
  • Better Quality of Sleep - A study found that combining acupuncture with massage has the potential to improve the quality of sleep in those with insomnia. 
  • Enhanced Sense of Wellbeing - Both massage and acupuncture are praised for their contribution to an individual’s sense of wellbeing. When used in conjunction with each other, this sensation may be enhanced. 

Can Massage Therapists Perform Acupuncture?

Acupuncture cannot be performed by just anyone. Most people wishing to practice acupuncture would need to study an accredited long-term course such as a 3-year degree in a suitable subject, or a course provided by a professional organisation. However, healthcare professionals, including level 4 massage therapists, can study an accredited CPD course to become qualified to practice acupuncture. 

Learn more about how to train in acupuncture in our recent blog here

Final Thoughts

Whilst, traditionally, acupuncture is not a part of massage therapy, the two therapies work together incredibly well to enhance results. As such, if you’re a massage therapist wondering whether to introduce acupuncture as part of your clinical offering, perhaps now is the time to complete a foundation course in acupuncture and dry needling with Breeze Academy. We have course dates across the UK, both for beginners, as well as those having already completed their foundation course, such as acupuncture for women's health, and acupuncture for headaches and neck pain. Please get in touch to find out more.

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