Pointing in the Right Direction

Dave Schiman’s journey from sales and marketing to finding acupuncture.

By Brian Anderson
Photography by Alexa Nahas Photography

Dave Schiman spent years in pursuit of a career centered around helping others. In Manayunk, he’s done just that through acupuncture.

His serpentine journey to acupuncture took him from sales and marketing to fundraising to finance to nonprofit work. A white collar career didn’t suit Dave, and his career and own experiences pointed him toward acupuncture. He established Manayunk Roxborough Community Acupuncture in 2008.

“I always liked helping people,” Dave said. “It’s just part of my personality. When I started reading about acupuncture, it just made all the sense in the world to me.”

With roots in Eastern cultures, acupuncture began around modern-day China and Mongolia. The acupuncturists of hundreds of years ago pushed on different muscles in the body with tools — likely made of stone — and eventually evolved into a practice of inserting thin needles into the skin to stimulate muscles, nerves, and other tissues. Today, studies being done look at how acupuncture can assist in healing, pain relief, addiction, and more, Dave explained.

Born in Kentucky, Dave said he’s used alternative healing therapies since he was a kid. Plagued by stomach problems when he was about 10-years-old, Dave learned meditation and relaxation helped him listen to his entire whole body. This experience, coupled with his time traveling the world, made him rethink health and wellness.

After a decade bouncing between careers, Dave refocused on health and wellness. Instead of going to medical school, he embarked on a career as an acupuncturist, calling it, “a natural fit.” He earned a Master’s degree from Maryland University of the Healing Arts.
After years of practicing, he sees the human body differently.

“We’re not a compilation of replaceable parts, as humans,” Dave said. “We’re not like a car — we’re like a garden. You have to tend to it with diet and exercise, sleep, having fun. All those things that make a difference in our quality of life, and acupuncture fit that.”
Today, Dave and two other acupuncturists practice at Manayunk Roxborough Community Acupuncture. The condition he treats most often is a familiar one: stress.

“People are in this survival mode,” Dave said. “It’s a heightened stress level, like the fight or flight response.”

Dave explained that acupuncture points in the ear, hands, and feet can help down-regulate the nervous system and lower the brain’s threshold for stress response. As he puts it, “It just resets the nervous system.”

Bringing the nervous system back to normal levels can cause a cascading effect, Dave further explained. When people are less stressed, they sleep better, eat better, and they regain perspective.

“It’s not going to fix the situation, but it helps people settle enough that they can deal with what they have control over,” he said. “Once one condition starts getting better, it all starts falling into place. Once their quality of life starts to improve, it gets better and better over time.”

Jess Weaver is another acupuncturist at Manayunk Roxborough Community Acupuncture. The Manayunk resident is a former patient of Dave’s, and has found acupuncture to be a positive part of her health and wellness. As an athlete, she relied on acupuncture to help her knees and hips. After her son was born, she found it added balance back to her daily routine.

“It helps you get your energy back and helps you sleep better,” Jess said.

Many patients come in for acupuncture to help find that balance, she said, as not everyone uses acupuncture to recovery from an injury or to help manage their stress. From teenagers to young professionals to senior citizens, her patients are people of all ages and from all walks of life who use acupuncture to improve their wellness.

“Every patient is different and unique,” she said. “A really great thing about a community clinic is it serves a lot of different kinds of people. It’s one of the reasons we love the community.”

Not everyone comes in because they’re stressed; Dave sees athletes looking for another edge in competition, too. Dave, who himself is a cyclist, enjoys helping athletes of all skill levels achieve their goals.

“It’s so rewarding to work with someone and they come and say, ‘I set a personal record in the marathon,’ or ‘I won that race’ or even ‘I’m working out without pain,’” he recalled.

But regardless of who walks in that door, Dave and the other acupuncturists just want to help.

“What I’m passionate about is treating people,” he said. “I like being there for people when they need help.”

Why they settled in Manayunk is a familiar story, too. Dave’s wife, Liza, is from the Philadelphia area, and once they walked down Main Street, they both fell in love with the neighborhood. His business has bounced around, too, from up the hill to the other end of Main Street. Now, Manayunk Roxborough Community Acupuncture shares a space at 4414 Main Street, sitting just above River City Outpost.

“I didn’t want to go anywhere else. I wanted to work where I lived,” he said. “I just like being down in the heart of the business district in Manayunk. I just like all the activity.”

And in its own way, this journey is emblematic of Dave’s own life and his philosophy.

“It doesn’t matter where you’re at now, it’s the where you’re headed,” he said. “It’s the direction you’re pointed at that really matters.”