Posture for Receiving Acupuncture Treatment

Ideally, patients should be in a relaxed and open body position to receive acupuncture. People don't always seem to know how they should situate themselves for the treatment session, so this post is meant to serve as a friendly instructional note or a reminder. Sometimes people go into positions subconsciously, not realizing that their treatments can be affected by it.

We often start the acupuncture session with the patient lying down on the table or bed on their backs, face up. For the ki to flow in a beneficial way to facilitate healing and well-being, it is best if the patient is on the bed with the legs uncrossed and feet out to the sides a little in a relaxed manner. The hands should be along the sides of the body with the hands either next to the hips or with the palms resting lightly on the sides of the abdomen. The head and neck should by in a neutral position and should be lightly supported by a small pillow. Positioning the body this way allows the acupuncturist to get the most information from your body to influence the best treatment at that time. Below please note some of the body positions I've seen that are not at all desirable for treatment:

Crossed legs

Legs closed tightly together at the ankles

Legs bent at the knees so that the soles of feet are flat on the table/bed

Arms folded across the chest or hugging the abdomen

Balled fists, especially wearing tight watchbands or bracelets

Hands up behind the head -- this one really makes me crazy as a practitioner. I need to take your pulse several times while you're face up. Just how am I supposed to do that if your arms are up there?

Sitting up with the back straight and the legs outstretched in front


All of these postures are diagnostic as well -- they tell me something about your comfort level, tight areas of your body, areas that you may feel need protection, etc. As an acupuncturist, I do realize that patients need to be as comfortable as possible during their treatment sessions. This is why I will sometimes go along with their body position and not say much at the beginning of the session if the patient seems very relaxed and comfortable. I have to flexible enough to get information that I need to do a good treatment by using a variety of palpatory methods at my disposal, even if the patient is effectively blocking the use of my major diagnostic skills. But really, if you tend to assume any of these postures, please stop doing them and train yourself to go into the ideal posture outlined at the beginning of this. Your treatments will be more effective, and your acupuncturist will thank you!

Kerri Winston, Ph.D., L.Ac., is a licensed acupuncturist with a practice in Atlanta, Georgia's Buckhead area. If you are interested in learning more about how acupuncture can help you or your loved ones, please call 404-949-0550 or send email to