Slowing Down for Faster Results

So I finally saw a physical therapist this past week. A second orthopedist said I’m not doomed or anywhere near a place where I should be concerned about arthritis. Thank goodness for second opinions. There are solutions! I don’t have to dance in pain!

Bonus: the PT has a dance background, including some ballroom. If any dancers out there are looking for some kind of professional help with their body and/or mind, check out doctorsfordancers.com. It’s a pretty new website featuring a directory of people, from personal trainers and physical therapists to counselors and Reiki experts, who have experience working specifically with dancers. It’s where I found my PT. Funny coincidence: the second orthopedist actually refers a lot of patients to the same PT office. So good connections all around!

I really liked my PT, except when she asked me when my next dance lesson was, and since it happened to be that evening, she asked me if I could cancel. Say what now?

I kept my cool and slowly responded that yes, that would be possible if she really thought it was wise. She really did. *sigh*

She also said I could practice this weekend only if my knees didn’t hurt. And as soon as my knees started to hurt, I should call it quits. Well, my knees have been hurting all weekend, so I didn’t go to the studio.

I’m carrying around a mix of frustration and relief. Relief because I’m actually doing something about healing my knees. Frustration for the obvious reason. I want to dance!

I keep reminding myself that the reason my knees continue to hurt is because I’ve never allowed them to completely heal since being aggravated in January and February during the Burn fitness program. I meekly tried to insist to both my second orthopedist and my PT that I did take a week and a half off after overdoing it in the Zumbathon post-Burn. But oh, I still went to my dance lesson during that time, so I didn’t totally take it off. Apparently that doesn’t count as rest. Two to six weeks is the usual recommendation. So basically, I’ve just been reaggravating my knees this whole time, even as I’m going less intense in Zumba and only taking one dance lesson a week. Well shite.

I also keep reminding myself that if I slow down and actually rest, my knees will get back to working order faster and I’ll be able to get back to my normal routines faster. I just want to be able to dance, which I know you all can understand. At the same time, I would hate to be at my first Open-level competition with my knees screaming just in time for the scholarship round.

So no lesson and no practice this past week. My next PT appointment is on Monday. Pray for me that she doesn’t bench me again (dance lesson is on Tuesday)! At least I know she understands what drives us dancers, so she understands the magnitude of her telling me not to dance.

Straight up, it sucks when the body can’t keep up with what the mind and soul want. I know some of you are dealing with actual arthritis in your knees or some other equally frustrating breakdown in the body that limits your dancing. For me, this is a time when I try to practice some gratitude and take what I can get. It’s just temporary. There is a plan in place and I won’t be benched forever, just longer than I’d like.

In the meantime, I need to take up some alternative exercises so I don’t gain back my holiday weight from all this resting! What are your favorite upper body exercises?

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11 thoughts on “Slowing Down for Faster Results

  1. Barbara Caridad Ferrer says:

    You should ask your PT if it’s possible for you to take a Yin Yoga class. A good Yin class is entirely floor-based (seated or lying down postures) and is considered a restorative yoga, concentrating on stretching and working into the deep tissues and joints. And of course, as with any yoga, there are many alternatives for poses if one actively hurts or is beyond what you should do.
    Also, I understand *exactly* what you’re going through, to the tune of nearly two *years* off the floor because I didn’t listen to my body and kept training and truthfully, dancing even harder than I had before, for a year after I injured myself. I worked so hard to convince myself it was just a minor tweak and that when I was done with the competitive season I’d laid out for myself, I would rest it and it would be fine.
    Narrator: It was not, as she’d hoped, fine.
    So take care of yourself, no matter how frustrating it is.

  2. Babs says:

    I’m sorry to hear you’re now part of the club. But you’re younger than some of us and now have a clearer understanding what it will take to recover. I’ve got two issues which affect me. One is a Morton’s Neuroma (a misnomer). It’s a painful joint at the base of the toes caused by over-use and poor shoes choices. I finally got some lower heels with a wider toe base and took time off. It still crops up but is much better. Many dancers try and dance thru it or get surgery. Both bad options. For others this ending their dancing, but like me, you found some ways to heal, which unfortunately mean rest and patience. I thought I’d have to stop dancing, but I was wrong.

    My other issue is more serious, due to chronic pain from shingles. I finally accepted that pushing myself too hard, particularly in contra body, will set me way back. I let the dancing endorphins mask it, but I can’t now, it’s affecting me too much. So yesterday I told my teacher we’ve got to ease up, so we did. It’s hard, but it will work out for you. When you’re healthier you’ll be able to pick it up sooner than you realize, but you can NOT just work through pain. Your body is telling you something.

    Can you restructure your lessons? Don’t do as much full out dancing and focus on the finer points of technique that won’t stress the knees? Now that you know you have to set limits your teacher may have all kinds of other options you hadn’t thought of. I know mine does that for me. Or as you said, arm styling. I don’t have any workout advice for the upper body, as that’s what I have to be careful with. Good luck, don’t push too much and it WILL get better.

    • TheGirlWithTheTreeTattoo says:

      I know you understand even more than me, Babs! We adapt where we need to and slow down when we have to, all so we can keep dancing at least to some degree. This year has definitely been a lesson in listening to my body!

  3. wookiemonsterparallel says:

    Yeah, I can sympathize, what with the plantar fasciitis I have right now and finally going to a podiatrist tomorrow. Though the teammate who’s a grad student in the physical therapy doctoral program said something about “taking it easy” as opposed to having to take a break. Plantar fasciitis typically doesn’t involve immobility, but rather lots of stretching. Anyway, we’ll see.

    Though the timing works out well… With some after-school obligations and family traveling, my partner has a weird schedule this month and we’re already accepting that our practice schedule will be somewhat reduced.

    Hang in there…

      • wookiemonsterparallel says:

        Absolutely. Bad day on the dance floor is still better than a good day at work. And I know plenty of people who are still competing Pro-Am who are in their 80s, so, apparently, setbacks are just that: setbacks.

    • Babs says:

      Wookie, been there with PF also. Stretching and icing! Mine still flares up a bit. It takes a long time to heal, but if you’re faithful with proper support, icing and stretching it can go faster. Good luck.

      • wookiemonsterparallel says:

        Yeah, I’m doing what I can for it. Likely, I’ll need orthotics, as I have flat feet, and I think this is a Big Contributor to the PF. And hopefully learning how to tape up my foot, since I seriously doubt orthotics will fit in my dance shoes.

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