Flower Power

When injury strikes, how do you deal with pain? For many dancers, coping involves generous amounts of ibuprofen and ice. But pain pills, like Advil or Tylenol, can be tough on your stomach, and icing requires time—and a freezer. That’s where homeopathic pain relievers come in.

Homeopathy has been around for over 200 years. It uses natural remedies—like extracts from plants or minerals—to help the body heal. Many homeopathic pain relievers are topical, meaning they’re applied directly to the skin. “Topical pain relievers deliver site-specific relief, with minimal side effects,” explains Jacqui Haas, director of dance medicine at Wellington Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Therapy Services for Cincinnati Ballet.

There are tons of homeopathic formulas out there. To make things simpler, we got the scoop on three dancer faves.

(Photos courtesy Tiger Balm, Biofreeze, Arnicare)

Tiger Balm

Active ingredients: Menthol and camphor, which comes from

the wood of camphor trees

How it works: Menthol and camphor have similar effects. Like Biofreeze, Tiger Balm uses cold therapy to ease pain symptoms.

Best for: Sprains, strains and general muscle soreness

Biofreeze Gel

Active ingredient: Menthol, a chemical found in mint oils

How it works: The menthol creates a cooling sensation, which keeps pain signals from reaching your brain. It also reduces blood flow to the applied area, which prevents swelling.

Best for: Sprains, strains and general muscle soreness

Arnicare

Active ingredient: Arnica, which is extracted from the Arnica montana flower

How it works: Arnica’s dispersive properties help reduce bruising and swelling.

Best for: Bruises and swelling

You shouldn’t use topical homeopathic pain remedies…

…under braces or taping.

…on broken or sensitive skin.

These products can cause rashes or blistering, and they can be poisonous if they enter the bloodstream.

Haas says: “If, after using the product, your symptoms get worse, you develop skin irritation or you experience no relief in seven days, stop using it and consult

a doctor.”

Got a sweet tooth that won’t quit? Pump up the a.m. protein! According to a study published in Nutrition Journal, eating a high-protein (about 35 grams) breakfast helps quiet your sugary cravings throughout the day by upping the level of happy hormones in your brain.

Did you know...

…dark chocolate is awesome? You probably did.

But in honor of Valentine’s Day, here’s yet another accolade to add to its trophy case: Dark chocolate can reduce muscle pain and soreness. Its high cocoa content works like ibuprofen or aspirin to reduce inflammation, one of the major causes of pain. What’s more, if eaten before physical activity, dark chocolate may even prevent inflammatory molecules from forming, according to a study conducted at Aberystwyth University in Wales. That’s reason number 3,465,891 to pack a square of the dark stuff for a pre-rehearsal snack.

(Photo by Digital Vision/Thinkstock)

Hugz, Not Strugz

Does your competition team or student company have a pre-performance ritual? Believe it or not, those hand-squeeze chains, massage trains and hug seshes do a whole lot more than calm your nerves.

You’ve probably heard of oxytocin, commonly referred to as the “love hormone.” It’s the chemical that makes you feel so darn awesome whenever you get a good hug. But oxytocin also has a lesser-known function: It boosts team performance. Numerous studies have found that teams that engage in physical contact before a competition—such as hugs or pats on the back—perform better than teams that don’t. Scientists attribute the performance boost to the release of oxytocin, which can strengthen important team attitudes, like trust, empathy and generosity.

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