‘Handle your ankle with care‘
A 30-year old woman came into the room with an awkward gait. Without apparent cause, her ankle started to hurt three days ago.
However, the truth came out soon after I began diagnosing. Three days ago, she wore three-inch high heels, almost a platform, during her 4-hour commute. She is one of many who live in Incheon with a job in Seoul. No doubt, the heels caused the pain. Not to mention that her shoes were too small, evident from her deformed feet.
I asked her to go to the treatment room and get ready for acupuncture. As I got ready to treat her ankle, I noticed she had such thin ankles; indeed her ankles were way too slim for her body.
Based on the theory of the constitution of traditional Korean medicine, the human population is divided into four identifiable types — “taeyangin” (people with greater yang), “soyangin” (people with lesser yang), “taeyinin” (people with greater yin), and“soyinin” (people with lesser yin).
Different constitutions have specific metabolic features and different susceptibilities to certain aliments. Soyangin have an inverted triangle body shape with broad shoulders and narrow hips and maintain slim ankles regardless of body mass. They are known to enjoy outdoor leisure activiites. My patient was soyangin who enjoyed nightlife.
The shoes were not the only culprit; she had shed 2 kilograms in a week by jumping rope. This is a sure way to kill knee and ankle joints. The impact on these joints is tremendous for soyangin with heavy bodies.
I recommended stretching before exercising and taking up swimming which is less stressful on the joints. I also warned her that when one ankle breaks down, the knee on the other side will also break down, followed by back pain on the same side as the ankle.
The bodies of Homosapiens have evolved to absorb an equal amount of weight on both sides. There is a tendency to maintain a balance between left and right.
When you sprain or strain your ankle, acupuncture may be a quick way to fix it. According to “Donguibogam,” a medical encyclopedia from the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910), smooth passage means no pain whereas blocked passage causes pain. “Qi,” or life energy, and blood circulate throughout the body giving energy to all extremities, however, when the flow is blocked for any reason, in this case, by straining a ligament due to over use, blood stagnates in the painful area.
Once the stagnated blood is removed by non-invasive techniques, the pain gradually diminishes. Furthermore, according to “Donguibogam,”the root of peony absorbs pus and treats blood stagnation caused by contusion. The herb is bitter and pungent in taste. It treats all blood and qi related diseases.
The writer practices traditional Korean medicine at Nasaret Oriental Medical Hospital in Incheon.