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Editor's Note: This is Dafina Biteye's second contribution to the SalsaNewYork Magazine. Thanks for your hard work and effort Dafina. - Sincerely, Manny & Steve of SalsaNewYork. 

How It Treats Dance Injuries

Written by Dafina Biteye, LAc
Licensed Acupuncturist  (NY)
E-mail: tawfex@rcn.com

El Gran Combo is playing at Exit.  Naturally, you just haaave to go.   The place is jam packed, the joint is jumping.  You know you have to dance even though the crowded dance floor is like perilous a war zone.   Just when you are getting your dance on ouch !!! Someone brutally steps on your foot with a pair of lethal high heel shoes.  It hurts like hell, but you continue to dance while your foot continues to hurt like hell.  Later at home you notice that your toes are swollen 3 to 6 times their natural size.  You must go to the doctor.  Surgery is necessary right away, to repair torn ligaments.  (This, by the way, is a true story).

Let’s replay the scenario.  When your foot is hurting like hell you stop dancing and evaluate the amount of damage.  If there is immediate swelling and persistent pain there is a strong likelihood of a torn ligament.  The pain is the body’s means of telling you to STOP doing whatever you are doing.  There is the possibility that continuing to dance may contribute to some additional damage.  It just goes to show you that here the love of dancing is more powerful than the pain sensation.

Moving on, the damage is done.  How would Chinese Medicine view a scenario like this?  There was trauma, the impact where the body responded by pooling Blood, Fluids and Chi at the site.  A basic tenet of Chinese Medicine is - If there is pain there is no free flow - If there is free flow there is no pain.  There has to be movement of Chi, Blood, and Fluids where it’s needed, when it’s needed and in the amounts needed for balance, a state of well being.  The body’s response to the trauma is an accumulation or stagnation of the Three Fundamental Substances.  The pain, swelling, and more limited range of motion create an obstruction to the free movement of Chi, Blood, and Fluids.        

Within the philosophical framework of Chinese Medicine pain relief is the result of a better flow of Chi, and Blood.  If the movement of Chi is obstructed it can lead to a disharmony of stagnant Chi.  Stagnant Chi is responsible for stiffness, annoying aches that may move around, limited motion, and eventually contributes to the creation of chronic conditions.  Chi stagnation is worst in combination with stress and emotional upsets.  Blood stagnation, also, leads to pain.  Pain that is fixed, localized, intense, sharp and there is a tendency to dislike pressure.  The affected area feels tender and there may be changes in the tissue, like nodules. 

In women, Blood stagnation following trauma increases the likelihood of some menstrual cycle dysfunction, such as more cramping or even the appearance of clots.

Western science knows that receiving acupuncture stimulates the pituitary gland to release endorphins.  Endorphins are neurotransmitters that enable people to act in spite of pain and injury.  The salsara who danced the night away with the injured foot  had lots of endorphins flooding her system that night.

There are several instruments used during acupuncture treatments, the main one is needles. When we think about needles we tend to associate them with pain.  Acupuncture needles don’t have to take any thing out of the body or put anything in.  They are designed to glide in between the body’s tissues.  Hypodermic needles are designed to tear into the underlying tissues in order to withdraw or inject something.  Once the acupuncture needles are in place there is the tendency to feels something moving inside. There may be sensations like warmth, pulling, tingling, or itching. These sensations indicate that there is a movement of chi.  On the insertion there can be fleeting sensation like a mosquito bite.   Once the needles are in place, acupuncture creates a state of deep relaxation, slower rates of breathing and calmer mentality.

There are techniques other than needles employed for the treatment of pain.  Cupping involving placing suction cups over the effected areas.  The cups create a strong temporary Blood stasis.  The removal of the cups facilitates an increase in the flow of Blood and Chi through the treated area. 

Gua Sha involves the use of friction to remove stagnation.  Friction is applied to the skin until a response similar to a rash appears.  Gua Sha is excellent for pain when indicated.  It removes surface congestion as well as increase blood flow between the surface and the internal organs.

Moxabustion uses the burning of a specific herb over an acupuncture point or a larger area of the body to move Chi.  It is indicated when there are insufficient amounts of Chi to perform properly.  It’s also indicated when the person or an area of the body feels cold.  Moxabustion is an excellent healing modality but unfortunately it smells like reefer/marijuana.  In commercial spaces it can’t be used.  Patients can use moxa sticks and stick on moxa cones at home. 

Accidents, over working groups of muscles, fatigue,  and stress are all a part of life and dancing.  It’s important to keep the flow going.  Not doing so creates limitations and contributes to long term chronic problems.  Pain, the obstruction of the flow of Chi, Blood and Fluids contributes to  congestion of connective tissue; tendons, ligaments, muscles, blood vessels, and  even internal organs, which cause them to become fibrous and hardened further limiting one’s full functioning.  Acupuncture is excellent for relieving pain and tendo-muscular problems, as well as a tool to help obtain and maintain a state of optimal functioning and well being.

For more information contact Dafina Biteye, LAc at tawfex@rcn.com or  646-662-7345

I would like to thank Louise Chang for her assistance and sense of  humor. 





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