Do you have to take your clothes off for acupuncture?

Acupuncture can be performed on many different parts of the human body. As such, the amount of clothing that needs to be removed will vary depending on the body part you would like to be treated. For example, if you would like acupuncture done on your knee, you will need to remove the clothing surrounding it.

That being said, you can also dress in a way that exposes the area you would like to be treated. Wearing shorts to your appointment for acupuncture on your knee will mean you don’t have to remove any clothing. Similarly, if you’re having acupuncture done on your shoulder, you can wear a tank top or something that exposes your shoulder. If you’re wearing a shirt or sweater, you may need to shift your clothing or switch to a gown so that your therapist can access the area to be treated. It’s also important that your clothing doesn’t rub against the acupuncture needles, so as not to shift them out of place. For example, if you roll your pants up to have acupuncture on your knee, you don’t want them to roll down by accident and place stress on the needles. So, you’re better off either wearing shorts to the appointment, or loose pants that can stay rolled up.


How can I make acupuncture more effective?

When it comes to acupuncture, you generally want to let the acupuncture needles do all the work. Aside from a select few cases, it’s better to relax and let your body be still during acupuncture. When we move while the acupuncture needles are still inserted, our muscles will tighten which can shift the needles. In some cases, it can cause the needles to get stuck and/or create more pain and discomfort. As such, it’s a good idea to avoid moving the body part that has the acupuncture needles inserted.

Furthermore, to make acupuncture more effective, try not to tense up during the process. When we tense up it causes our muscles to guard, which can limit the effects of acupuncture. Acupuncture is generally used to help relieve pain and stiffness. However, if our body tenses up during acupuncture, it can cause more pain and more stiffness. Finally, using a mild heat after acupuncture can be beneficial. It can help soothe the area that has been treated, and works in combination with the treatment to provide some pain relief.



What happens if you move during acupuncture?

When you’re receiving acupuncture, it’s best not to move the body part that is being treated. When we move our body, our muscles contract and shift. Since the acupuncture needles are embedded in our muscles during treatment, movement can affect the placement of the needles. Movement can shift the needles, causing them to be pushed out of the muscle or even deeper into it. When the needles are shifted, it may cause more pain and discomfort, or could even pierce another tissue, such as a vein.

In some cases, the needles can get stuck in the muscle because of movement. If this happens, you’ll need to move back into the position you were in when the needles were first inserted. While this is rare, it’s important to do everything you can to make sure the acupuncture session goes smoothly. Your therapist will queue you not to move while the needles are in, and will set a timer. Acupuncture needles may stay in from around 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the client and the therapist. During the time that you’re receiving acupuncture, you may be able to move other parts of your body. For example, if you’re receiving acupuncture for your knee, you’ll be okay to move your arms.

However, if you’re receiving acupuncture in your back or neck, you’ll want to keep everything still. If you have moved during acupuncture, don’t worry. In most cases you’ll be completely fine, but just try to stay as still and relaxed as you can. If you’re unsure if the needles have moved during the treatment, you can always check with your therapist.


Still not sure what to expect with acupuncture? Call us at 519-895-2020, or use our online booking tool on to book an appointment with one of our knowledgeable physiotherapists, and they will be sure to help you understand your injury. 



Liam Newlands

Physiotherapist at Strive Physiotherapy and Performance


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