In an industry that places massive demands on your body and expects consistent high energy performances, dancers often look to the internet or friends for advice on things like improving body composition, increasing energy, and healing injuries or chronic pain more efficiently. Unfortunately, many of the fads taking over the internet can often do more harm than good. This often leaves dancers feeling frustrated, hopeless, and often causes them to resort to over-the-counter medications for quick-fixes (ibuprofen, anyone?). If you’ve ever considered approaching your health naturally and holistically, a Naturopathic Doctor (ND/NMD) is just what you are looking for to help boost your performance and increase career longevity without jeopardizing your long term health.
In fact, some of the newest sports medicine research is confirming the profound effects of the most fundamental approaches used in naturopathic treatment plans: individualized nutrition, appropriate sleep and recovery strategies, stress management, hormone balance, optimal digestion, and functional training regimens. All of these things play directly into your strength, endurance, cognitive function, and career longevity as a dancer and athlete, helping to take your body’s health and performance from good to great.
Are Naturopathic Doctors and Naturopaths the same thing?
First things first, a “naturopathic doctor” (or naturopathic physician) and a “naturopath” (or traditional naturopath) are not the same. Licensable Naturopathic Doctors are educated as primary care doctors at accredited four-year medical schools and required to take 2 national licensing examinations before becoming eligible to diagnose and prescribe treatments. Their education and clinical practicum are comparable to that of a conventional medical doctor (MD/DO).
Traditional naturopaths, on the other hand, are unlicensible and complete abbreviated coursework (just weeks to months), often online. While they also focus on strategies to support natural wellness, they are not eligible to diagnose or treat patients, but may work as a health coach or consultant. Unfortunately, licensure of naturopathic doctors varies between states and provinces. In states or provinces that are still pursuing licensure of naturopathic doctors, traditional naturopaths may decide to call themselves naturopathic doctors, making things incredibly confusing for patients looking for a licensed ND. For that reason, it is very important to look into the credentials of anyone claiming to be a Naturopathic Doctor. For a more thorough comparison on the two professions, check out this article posted by the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges.
How does working with an ND differ from other healthcare providers?
Naturopathic doctors are trained in a wide variety of evidence-based approaches including therapeutic nutrition and supplementation, herbal medicine, physical medicine and spinal manipulation, IV therapy, hydrotherapy, lifestyle medicine, pharmacology and minor surgery. With all of these different treatment options in our tool belts, NDs may use a variety of therapeutic modalities based upon their own expertise, clinical experience, and, most importantly, on your preferences. We tend to spend more time getting to know you, learning about your goals and priorities, and addressing the unique challenges to your health. An initial visit typically lasts 60-90 minutes and a follow up visit about 30-45 minute, a stark contrast to the 7-minute visit you might get at a conventional medical clinic.
Here are a few more unique attributes of naturopathic doctors:
- Use whole-person (or holistic) approaches to identify the root cause of a problem
- Optimize the body’s innate ability to heal itself by removing obstacles and providing the ideal healing environment
- Prioritize prevention of further illness, injury and chronic disease
- Use the least invasive means possible to address an issue – lowest dose for the least amount of time
- Incorporate education in every visit so that you know exactly what is going on in your body and how we are working to address it
- Interpret labs using both lab standard and optimal ranges to address individuals’ needs
- Are the leading experts in non-pharmaceutical approaches to health and drug-herb interactions
- Trained to work integratively with other practitioners on your medical team
While naturopathic medicine is a specialty on its own, many NDs have sub-specialties as well. We are all initially trained as primary care doctors and some NDs may choose to deepen their expertise in a specific area. Integrative pain management, gastroenterology, cardiology, women’s health, oncology, sports medicine are just a few examples. Nevertheless, these sub-specialties are still built on a whole-person approach to health. If you want even more information on NDs, the Institute for Natural Medicine has a whole section for frequently asked questions regarding naturopathic medicine.
The Most Common Complaints that Bring Dancers My Way
I consult with athletes and dancers for a variety of reasons, but a few specific things have been fairly common among the majority of them:
- prevention and treatment of acute injuries
- chronic pain from improper recovery after an injury
- poor energy verging on complete exhaustion
- performance and generalized anxiety
- hormonal imbalances (absent, irregular or heavy periods)
- difficulty achieving or maintaining an “ideal” body composition resulting in malnutrition.
During a consultation, we start with an in-depth discussion about your habits and lifestyle, health history, and symptoms that could point to a root cause of your concern. We create a list of any labs that may be needed and discuss evidence-based approaches that could be used to address your unique challenges. Based on our discussion, I get to act as your private investigator, digging deep to find options that will work for you, your lifestyle, finances and your goals. Every session ends with a thorough discussion of what is going on in your body and how it is being addressed – it is all about empowering you to take the steps needed to optimize your health and performance both now and well into the future.
Do you have more questions on how naturopathic medicine can help you? Feel free to contact Dr. Brittany Krake to find out how an integrative approach can take your health and career to the next level.
About Dr. Brittany Krake
Dr. Brittany Krake is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor specializing in natural sports medicine, hormonal health, and regenerative injections. As a former NBA dancer, she uniquely understands the demands of elite dancers. Dr. B focuses on immediate and long-term health to improve performance and injury recovery, increase career longevity, and support a healthy life after leaving the stage. She has treated pro- and going pro dancers and cheerleaders, particularly within the NBA and NFL community, and offers educational workshops both online and for dance studios, teams, conventions, and camps. Dr. B is currently accepting teleconsult clients, allowing you to access natural health information from anywhere.
Dr. B received a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree (ND) from the National University of Natural Medicine, where she also completed her residency in naturopathic primary care, focusing on pain management and hormonal health. She has completed additional training in regenerative injection therapies.
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