Along with physical therapy, massage, Pilates, and yoga, acupuncture can be a beneficial and holistic way for dancers to heal their bodies. “Improved flexibility, stamina, strength and overall performance are just some of the benefits of acupuncture for dancers,” says licensed acupuncturist and former Martha Graham Dance Company member, Stacey Kaplan of Restore Wellness NY. “Acupuncture works with, not against, the body to promote balance and optimal health. Specific injuries are treated in relation to the whole body, helping dancers not simply heal but renew and thrive.” The ancient Eastern medical practice has been used to treat issues and injuries such as lower back pain, ankle sprains, joint and arthritis pain, migraines, anxiety, and sleep problems.
Still, for anyone who has a phobia of needles, acupuncture can seem terrifying. The practice, part of traditional Chinese medicine, has become more accepted (and used) by Western medical professionals in the past decade. “When a dancer comes in for their initial appointment,” explains Kaplan, “we’ll discuss in detail any concerns, imbalances or injuries they have. Then, taking into account their health history and performance goals, we’ll come up with a treatment plan that best suits their individual needs.” Lying down on a massage table, the specialist will insert anywhere between 5 and 20 clean, single-use metal needles into the dancer’s body based on a complex understanding of qi (energy) flow meridians. The needles are so tiny (only 0.16mm in diameter) that the patient probably won’t even feel them. The acupuncturist will leave the needles in for 5 to 20 minutes. “We may also add cupping therapy, gua sha, heat therapy, essential oils or topical Chinese liniments, depending on what our goals are for that treatment,” adds Kaplan. A dancer can experience relief after just one session but may also schedule periodic “check-in” appointments for maintenance.
Be sure to research a licensed acupuncture specialist and to consult with your doctor before getting your first treatment. For more information about Stacey Kaplan and Restore Wellness NY, visit Restore Wellness NY.