Is anyone else really feeling the time change this time around? I’ve been enjoying sunrise occurring before I walk the dogs in the morning before work, but when I woke up at 6:30am this morning, it was DARK. Ugh, I guess it’s back to walking the dogs in the pitch black again. Yay.
Anyhoo, another week of ice packs and heating pads has gone by. I wrote in my last blog post about the difficulties I was having adjusting to my new reality in which I can’t go full out in a Zumba class or I’ll have to limp home with crying knees. It was also disturbing and frustrating how achy my knees felt after a 45-minute dance lesson. I had a lot of questions swirling around in my head (still do) about what my apparent limitations meant for me and my dancing future.
Since I only had the one dance lesson this past week (same thing this week), I decided to try a second Zumba class on Thursday. I held back and avoided any major jumping movements. I didn’t squat as low and tried to be very careful of my form when I did squat. Despite my attempts to go easy, my knees were still aching by the end of class. I actually reached a point when I started to think if the next song wasn’t the cool down, I might have to sit one out. The next song wasn’t the cool down, but the one after that was, so I didn’t have to miss anything. Well, except for everything I didn’t do because I was trying to hold back.
Friday, my knees didn’t quite ache but still felt funky. Saturday was a bit of an improvement, but I was starting to wonder if I’d be able to make it through the styling workshop I planned on attending on Sunday AND do my solo practice. I lost an hour of sleep Saturday night, but it seemed that I didn’t lose out on recovery time. My knees actually felt pretty good on Sunday morning!
All week, I had been scheming in my head, coming up with strategies to give my knees the best chance to heal/recover, if there was any healing possible (once the bone is worn away, it’s gone, but the cartilage beneath it…!). At the same time, I wanted to be able to get back to a point where I didn’t have to hold back in Zumba class or my dance lessons. I had to acknowledge that it was going to take patience. I needed to be patient with my body.
That’s not an easy thing for me to do. I hate waiting around, which is what I felt like I had to do in order to be “patient.” Then again, maybe not. Determining my current limits was going to take some trial and error. I had to stay persistent and active (physically and strategically) in order to both help my knees heal as much as they could and figure out how far I could push them without causing more damage.
I’m a scientist as well as an artist, so I felt better thinking of this adjustment period as an experiment rather than a period where I had to sit on the sidelines. Last week was an experiment to see how I’d fare with two Zumba classes and a dance lesson. This coming week, I’m switching it up and going to try a workout class that is a mix of Zumba routines and upper body weight exercises. That type of class will provide break times for my knees. I’m also going to return to my favorite YouTube channels and set aside an evening for at-home floor workouts that won’t include any weight-bearing exercises that would affect my knees.
I have no way of knowing if any of this will actually make a difference, but it’s helping my mindset, which means it already has made a difference.
I managed today’s styling workshop and solo practice by reversing their order. Normally, I would go to the studio and practice and then stay for the workshop. But since there was a good chance practice would leave my knees sore, I decided to flip them. I showed up for the workshop and then stayed for practice. I figured if the workshop left my knees sore, I could at least still walk through my choreography.
I planned on reviewing all four dances, but by the time I went through Waltz and Tango, my knees were starting to talk to me. I listened and cut my practice short.
The good news is I’ve retained nearly all of my Waltz routine! The timing of some of it is still fuzzy and obviously, the runaround turns where Teacher is holding one of my legs up in the air are a little challenging to practice on my own (especially with sore knees). I was still pleased with my memory of the steps though. Tango is getting there too…
Learning the Open routines is another exercise in patience. I’m getting it through my thick skull that if I’m patient and persistent, I will make progress. Progress that comes slower than I want is still progress. I miss competing, and at the same time, I have no desire to go out there with routines only half-learned. So I’ll keep working and try to be patient.
Thank you for all of the comments on the last blog post by the way. I really appreciate the love and support!
P.S. If you don’t follow me on social media (why not?), you may have missed the fact that my books are now available as a collection!
Dance Diaries: Learning Ballroom Dance
Dance Diaries: Ballroom Budgeting
The Solo Practice Guide for Ballroom Dancing
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