How Linus Lost his Blanket

linus' blankieI had plans for a creative spin on the Charlie Brown character for this blog, but it’s going to be short’n sweet.  I haven’t time for much else right now. I axed my massage table last month. 

     Why?  It was a crutch, a security blanket, a remnant from my student poking days when I thought that shu points were more relevant and necessary than they are.  When I opened the clinic, I couldn’t imagine treating low back pain or sciatica strictly in a chair, hence the table.

     When a patient didn’t respond to my chair treatments in the first year, I would often try a table treatment to access the points that I couldn’t get at in a chair.  Know what I learned?  If someone wasn’t responding to a distal therapy protocol, they didn’t do any better on the table.  Either acupuncture works for them, or it doesn’t.  Using a table treatment didn’t improve *anyone’s* outcome.

     Over the course of the first year, my table began storing extra blankets, pillows, odds’n ends…’till I took a look at that space and realized I could fit two chairs in place of the one (unused) table.  And that’s exactly what I did.

     Could I have started-off without a table?  Probably not…I didn’t have the confidence (then) in distal treatments that I do now.  When a patient asks me about back points, I can now answer with heartfelt conviction that nobody, NOBODY, *NOBODY* is being shortchanged in a chair treatment.  That’s the purpose my table served for 15 months: teaching me that I can treat anything in a chair.

Jessica Feltz
Author: Jessica Feltz

<p> I learned about Community Acupuncture while studying at the Midwest College of Oriental Medicine (MCOM) in the Spring of 2006 when Lisa Rohleder's first article about her clinic appeared in Acupuncture Today. Coming from a middle-class background myself, I was the only student in my acupuncture class to have not experienced the healing benefits of this medicine prior to beginning studies at MCOM. I couldn't afford it. And my family couldn't understand what I was doing by investing in an education that they didn't perceive to be financially sustainable. </p> <p> The Community Acupuncture model is a perfect fit for me, balancing social justice and taoist simplicity with the patient's innate ability to heal him/herself (with a few gentle nudges from strategically placed needles). I am grateful every day to have found CAN and the love it brings into my life. I want to share that joy by spreading the message about how we can create a new health care experience in our communities through each of our very small efforts...and how those very small efforts can in turn change the world. </p> I enjoy my two sons, my 4 cats, and big stacks of books.  I own and operate...

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  1. tables

    i get the sentiment, but will add these thoughts:

    we have two tables in our clinic. we rarely needle backs on them, in fact i cannot remember the last time i did that on someone (actually, pam needles my back on one of them more often than other patients). i would say that 99.5% of the time we do distal treatments on those tables. our patients know that distal treatment is how we primarily work, so they never expect to have their back needled on a long-term basis. i thnk i mostly agree that if there is no progress with distal
    treatments, there will be no progress with acupuncture in general, but
    i think there are exceptions. while mostly i get distal, my back treatments supplement my care tremendously.

    some folks strongly prefer to lie flat on their back during distal acupuncture, something they cannot do in a recliner. i am one of those people so i felt i wanted to accomodate others who need this. i also have a client who uses a wheelchair and can transfer onto a low table from her chair (but not into a recliner). it is very thrapeutic for her to spend sometime stretched out like that, so i like to give her (and others in similar situation that option). also i am working with a woman who is getting her flower bone #1 points (bottom of the foot) needled every week and it is way more comfortable for both me and the patient to have her lying face down on the table – once again i am glad i have that option, because this patient is in for the long haul and cannot afford private room treatment. so, i think the table is just a helpful thing to have. we got two because it felt more democratic – when we had just one, folks treated it as a special place; now with two, it does not happen. having said this, i think i would be fine running a cinic with chairs only, if that’s all i could have.-tatyana

  2. I have one table

    which rarely gets used. Like Jessica, it usually is storage for blankets, pillows. But I am glad I have it for the few times I need it. Like when I need to needle Tung’s Correct Tendons. I first tried needling this on a current patient w/ him on the recliner, in a frog-legged position (as a CAist has written about  on the Forum). The angle just was not right for me. I could not get the needle to penetrate deep. On the table, with client face down, it’s no problem for me.

  3. For over a year I have been wondering about this.

    When I switched from one table and three chairs, I bought another table and another chair to move to my new place because folks were always asking for the table.  Now that I have two tables, it’s easier to accommodate more people, but about 40% of my patients prefer the table, and about a third of these are simply not able to sit in a chair.  Some say they get really uncomfortable in a chair, and some say they really prefer being stretched out during treatment.  I don’t do back or abdomen points at all, just distal treatments, and a few patients are willing to wait up to 30 minutes just so they can get the table. Some of them are older folks, but most are in their 40’s. Massage therapists all prefer the table because of their personal association with tables.  I keep asking myself if this is because something in me is attracting this table situation or if it’s the patient profile of this particular population?  For myself, it doesn’t matter whether I get treated in a chair or a table.

  4. good discussion

    As a student this I also still wonder about this. At one internship site, we have chairs and tables, and most people don’t mind the chairs, but some, especially some of the regulars, prefer the table. They can really rest on the table. Of course, those chairs are not as comfortable as recliners. But personally, I usually prefer to lie down. Maybe because I’m short, I don’t really like recliners in general- I sink in too much and feel unsupported or collapsed rather than stretched out- but with acupuncture they can be ok. Sort of like the treatment makes up for the awkwardness of being in a recliner! So this makes me wonder- maybe some people like myself are just not very used to recliners? Maybe it’s partly a matter of getting the person situated with an extra pillow or something? Are there tricks to making recliners more hospitable to various body types and preferences? I’ve seen suggestions to have a variety of chairs available. Maybe most patients figure out how to get comfortable in time, and if there are only recliners they acclimate. Although there’s also the point David mentions- some distal points are easier to needle on tables. But having a couple of tables does change the environment it seems.

  5. I forgot to mention that I’ve done a lot to make my chairs

    comfortable, to the point of being overly fussy! I’ve made buckwheat pillows as options, put heating pads on chairs (I remove as soon as the cold weather moves on), offered a variety of sizes and chair covers, placed chairs in darker or lighter or more isolated areas.  That 40% seems unaffected by these efforts.

  6. Tables vs. Chairs

    I started out with two tables and four chairs (La-Z-Boys). Now, I have five tables and one chair because 94% of my patients (out of approximately 1,500 patients surveyed) indicated that they preferred the comfort of the tables vs. the chairs. Like Lumiel, I had patients willing to wait for a table.

  7. I’m curious

    Ryann, what is your clinic demographic?  

    I am in an area similar to the one Lumiel practices in and  there sometimes is a strong preference for a table communicated by a small percentage (maybe 5%) of our total patient population.  I haven’t surveyed my patients, and wonder if even the question itself “do you prefer a table or a recliner when getting acupuncture treatments?” influences how people anser this question–i.e. a perceived benefit of the table over the chair since this is how *most* acupuncture has been performed in the US.  

    I find that different recliners are different for different body types.  I have a variety of recliners including lazy boys (big and small) la fumas, and a couple of *no name* brand recliners.  

     When we had 2 tables there was this dynamic of the tables being *better*.  I think if we had 3 or 4 tables all together it would have a different feeling than a table and a chair in a room, but the way PCA is set up we have a bunch of smallish (10×12) treatment rooms all connected through open doorways.


  8. Hi Cris,
    I just found out

    Hi Cris,

    I just found out that my posts are being deleted from this “open” forum. IMO they have been pro CAN. If my input really isn’t valued, then why should I continue to participate on this forum?

  9. Hi Ryann

    Hi Ryann,

    I appreciate your continued participation at this forum but have noticed a contrary tenor to many of your posts.  

    Are you running a community acupuncture clinic?  or planning to?

    I noticed that you always post as a guest, does this mean that you are not a CAN member or that you wish to be anonymous?



  10. Hi Cris,
    I have a multi-bed

    Hi Cris,

    I have a multi-bed clinic in a state that doesn’t have licensing. I’m not a CAN member because I charge $35/treatment, which is outside of CAN’s guidelines. Two years ago I increased my charge to $35/treatment. For five years prior to that, I charged $30/treatment.

    Can you give me specific examples/quotes in regards to the “contrary tenor” to many of my posts?

  11. Being a CAN member

    and being a part of the LOC section on the CAN site are two different things.  You anonymity makes sense if you are worried because you work in a state with no licensing act.  Does your state expressly prohibit the practice of acupuncture?

    I can’t imagine what it must be like to practice in a state without licensing, but it seems like you don’t have to be too far under the radar if you have 1,500 patients.  

    Some of what I interpret in your remarks as contrary is a result of not knowing you.  You have been posting here at CAN and yet there is very little that you post about yourself or your practice.  

    Your comment above struck a subtle nerve in me, perhaps because I know Lumiel, or perhaps like Lumiel or many others posting here regularly, I know what it is like to have to shed the vestiges of BA practices.  What I read into Lumiel’s comments above is that she’s not sure that having more tables, or “being overly fussy” is where she should be focusing her energy. 


    I assume you went to acupuncture school and perhaps had similar training (programming) as me and Lumiel around what is and isn’t acceptable for acupuncture practices.  We are encouraged to pamper our patients in BA practices.  There are huge spa expos that the acu-profession is a part of.  THese really aren’t the people that CA is trying to appeal to and being overly fussy perhaps begets fussiness.  

    Massage tables are a vestige of some of that programming as Jessica and David were attesting to.  I think we tend to influence our patients greatly as to what is okay in our clinics.  If 94% of your patients prefer “the comfort of a table vs. a the chairs” it makes me wonder if they are actually kitchen chairs, not recliners.  


    What would be helpful for me is if I knew more about you, your practice, your reasons for posting on CAN, your thoughts about the acupuncture profession and the lack of licensing in your state. 


  12. Hi Cris,
    The state I

    Hi Cris,

    The state I practice in doesn’t regulate acupuncture. Consequently, I don’t advertise my services. Since I’m the only health care provider in the area, my patients are very protective of me.

    Now, I only use one La-Z-Boy recliner because so many of my patients were willing to wait for a table that it was affecting my ability to stay on schedule. My patients prefer being treated on my tilt top tables because they have the option of lying flat.

    “What would be helpful for me is if I knew more about you, your practice….” Well, I’m confused by your statement because my posts that had been deleted from this forum talked about my practice, etc.

  13. This conversation is interesting…

    …on a couple different fronts.

    – Ryann, in terms of your deleted posts, I’ll point you back to here and here for an explanation.

     – You could join CAN, and remain completely anonymous at the same time.  That’s not a problem at all.

     – FWIW, I’ve heard almost universal preference for our lazygirl chairs at our clinic over almost 2 years – as opposed to tables – including from folks who have treated on tables with me in pre-CA days, or with other punks in the past.

     – For folks who are really wanting to use back-shu points while pts are in chairs – this is also easily done with the microwave tx.  That is, have your pt. lean forward in the chair list up their shirt enough to gain access to the points, and needle them obliquley (perhaps taping them down).  Gently have them lean back into the chair and do the rest of the tx. 

    Cooked on both sides. 


  14. magic circle of chairs

    We have a recliner folded in the closet that has been unused for….a year??? Our recliners are nothing special…all from Craigslist. I don’t think there was any question about recliners on the survey we did. Maybe one comment from someone wanting them. If we had more space, we’d probably have a recliner or two set up, but we don’t…just 10 chairs, and it feels like a magic circle. What’s a Lazy Girl? Is it basically the same as a Lazy Boy?

  15. Just wait till we meet, Jessica!

    I’m super lazy!  But I’m also naturally pretty anxious, so it evens out.

    Yeah, this is interesting; I have one table and seven chairs and treated have treated one person on the table, once by their request, in the three months I’ve been open.  I mostly have it just in case (remembering a couple of Grassroots patients i.e. a pregnant patient who was more comfortable laying on her side after a certain point, and a man who came in with such severe LBP he couldn’t bend at all).  But I really hesitated.  I prefer the chairs myself – I’m not a particularly wide person but I always feel like I have to hold my arms in on a table.   It does help to have some lumbar and neck pillows so people can adjust – all the chairs are different.  I think the chairs are especially nice for new folks because they are able to look around the room more easily, and that’s comforting (though of course after 10 minutes most of their eyes are shut).  I wonder if the folks whose patients prefer tables have mostly patients who have lots of previous acupuncture experience? 

  16. Pregnant. That’s right.

    That was one of the other instances when I’ve had to use a table — a client who was being treated in her 5th- to 8th months of pregnancy. She got to a point where she could not get comfy on the recliner, and needed to lie on her side on the table to be treated. With pillows to support arms, and between legs.

  17. Nora!

    Didn’t you open DCA, like, 24 minutes after moving across the country?! You and I will be having a little chat about the definitions of “introvert” and “lazy” in Chicago…

  18. Recliners FTW

    I just recently finally got a new patient who wants to be treated on the table we have here.  Even then, I’m still mostly doing distal points, because that’s where my head is at.  She has gotten great results, and has repeatedly expressed appreciation for the “less is more” approach to needling.  Her past experiences with acupuncture have used lots of direct needling into her painful neck, back and hips.

    Just about everyone else we see really likes the recliners.  As a patient, I can’t stand tables after getting treated in recliners.  So much more comfy.

    Finally, I’ve often thought that recliners are second only to beer as the solace of the working people.

  19. I often do back shu points

    I often do back shu points on the chairs, I like them and chose not to give that up.  I think some people immediately write off CA if they don’t exclusively use distal styles, but a practitioner doesn’t necessarily have to radically change their style in order to practice CA.  Many of us do choose to learn distal treatments because they work so well, but that can happen over time.  If you are drawn to community acupuncture you can probably make your style work with a little creative thinking.

  20. I have patients who

    I have patients who only feel fully relaxed laying flat on the table, they will wait if someone else in on the table, and will only very grudgingly use a chair if they can’t wait.  I suppose it wouldn’t be an issue if my clinic never had the table, but I like having the option, and have even thought of getting another table.  I know this isn’t about me influencing people because I find recliners much more comfortable, and would never choose a table over a chair.