Perhaps you may remember the “old man” character depicted by Tim Conway in the Carol Burnett Show. Whatever the scene, he shuffles along unsteadily with his head jutting forward. Tim does this so well, that it is hard to keep from laughing; but in reality, being in this situation is anything but funny. A person’s lifestyle changes dramatically when there is constant fear of falling and the effort of walking a short distance takes a great deal of energy.
This shuffling-along scenario does not typically happen overnight. Once a person reaches a certain age (and year-by-year thereafter), stabilizing muscles can lose strength, joints can become painful and, as a result, range of motion and agility diminish. Not only is this a problem for getting around, but slipping and falling is more likely to occur - and if it happens, injuries can be more serious.
The balance of muscles and strength of ligaments, tendons and discs is an important part of maintaining structural balance. I'm often asked “How can acupuncture help? How does acupuncture work?” My answer offers both an Eastern and Western medicine perspective.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, inserting needles balances channels by moving blood flow and Qi (or Chi - a Chinese word meaning aliveness, life force energy). With Western Medicine’s diagnostic tools we can also say that where needles are inserted there is an increase of blood supply and naturally occurring endorphins (morphine-like chemicals produced by the body) are produced in the brain to reduce pain. Regardless of the explanation used, acupuncture is extraordinarily effective in releasing tightness and tension in the body.
And remember, acupuncture is both a preventative and a restorative medicine. To help someone address or avoid shuffling along, acupuncture can free up tightness in back muscles that in turn allow more space for intervertebral disks. When the discs aren’t happy, the nerves are often unhappy. When tension is released and discs and nerves are happy, more exercise is possible, weight can be better managed and sleep may also improve.