I Tried TCM-Pilates To See If It’d Relieve My Pain

Sometimes, two is better than one.

CLEO TCM Pilates

Much as it can be hard to imagine traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) working hand in hand with Pilates, an East-meets-West type of treatment isn’t unheard of. Besides, stranger pairings have happened.

So here’s the thing: Eu Yan Sang recently collaborated with local pilates studio Pilates Body Pilot to launch a TCM-Pilates programme designed to help people manage pain. I’ve been experiencing pain behind my left knee for months, so I was eager to see what a single two-hour session would do for me.

It should be said that prior to giving the treatment a go, I had gone for a couple of physio sessions to try and alleviate the pinching sensation. In fact, I had also gone for dry needling, which isn’t too different from acupuncture. But the discomfort didn’t lessen—much less go away.

During the session, I was asked to first consult Eu Yan Sang TCM physician Wong Wen Jun. She took my pulse, scrutinised my tongue and asked me a flew of questions about my health, then proceeded to assess my left knee. She speculated that my pain was the result of a tendon or ligament injury from all the intensive stretching I do, and recommended that I undergo a round of acupuncture.

“You feel pain when there’s an energy blockage or blood clot. Acupuncture can not only remove that blockage, but also improve blood circulation, repair tissue and relieve pain,” she explained.

“But the needles don’t necessarily go into the areas where you’re experiencing pain. For example, there is a point in your shin that, when needled, helps with the reparation of the tendons in your body.”

Wen Jun got me to lay on my stomach and proceeded to needle my lower back and the back of my left knee. She also stuck a couple of needles down the length of my shin before getting me to keep still for the next half an hour. I’m pretty used to getting needled, so that wasn’t an issue, but if it’s your first time undergoing acupuncture, you might want to minimise the number of needles used.

CLEO TCM Pilates

At the end of 30 minutes, she took all the needles out. It was too soon to say if the pain had been alleviated, but my muscles were distinctly more relaxed, which is always a superb feeling.

I then proceeded to consult with Christopher Chua, founder of Pilates Body Pilot, who noted that my left leg appeared straighter after acupuncture. My untrained eye wasn’t able to tell the difference, but I was excited to see how Pilates would help my injury along. Christopher got me to do a couple of exercises and told me to continue doing them at home to stabilise my hips, which can well affect the condition of the knees.

I left the studio not knowing if I’d really feel any different. But when I was doing the yoga the following morning, I felt half the pain I usually do in the back of my left knee. While I can’t say I was surprised, I was still relieved. Plus, it was only after one session.

But you must be wondering: why the tie-up between TCM and Pilates? Do the wellness systems not work well enough on their own?

“Each of the individual disciplines can be effective, but when combined together, the synergy is even better than sums of its parts,” explained Wen Jun. “Christopher felt that since TCM uses acupuncture to trigger change [in the body], Pilates, when used in the right sequence, can be used to cement the change.”

Not sure how that could be? Here’s an example.

“The body tends to accumulate fat in certain areas such as the thighs and abdominal region due to hormonal imbalance. TCM can help to rebalance the yin and yang of the body and improve circulation, while Pilates can activate the weakened muscles and reduce the stiffness and “bulk” of overused muscles.”

“Christopher wanted to work with an established TCM company and Eu Yan Sang was the first name that came to mind,” she added.

Unless your pain is life-threatening, it might be worth giving TCM-Pilates a shot. Two isn’t always better than one, but sometimes it might well make a difference. And I can’t wait to make another appointment already.

TCM-Pilates is available at Pilates Body Pilot every Thursday between 10am to 7pm. Each session takes about two hours and retails for $208, but CLEO readers can purchase a session at a special price of $108 for the month of November 2018. For more information, contact Christopher here.


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