Not knowing my limitations has recently led to me spending the majority of my spare time lying on my back in ‘constructive rest’, staring at the ceiling wondering how long I can expect to feel like this and when I can get back to dancing properly without the delayed pain that often doesn’t set in until later in the day.
I’ve always been the girl that can’t sit still. I always have to be moving, being productive, training, strengthening, stretching, dancing…
My injury was never something that I noticed creeping up on me, or maybe the truth is that I did, but chose not to register it and just kept on ignoring the building up of tension. As it was, the pain hit me suddenly and hard on a Friday night and a Monday morning in the middle of contemporary class three weeks ago now.
I’ve never been injured enough to have to stop dancing for more than a few hours, the worst thing that’s happened to me before now was that I stood on my own foot whilst wearing wooden clogs in rehearsal for a festival in Mallorca, the most I missed was a trip to the beach with friends whilst I stayed by the poolside and iced my swollen foot.
Even then, I hated the fact that I was missing out, but now, having to sit out of classes or parts of classes for two weeks was another thing entirely. I understood that I couldn’t physically take part in the classes I had to watch- I couldn’t do a simple tendu exercise in the centre, let alone the allegro or the floorwork-heavy exercises we were doing in contemporary class at the time. My first instinct was to work through and dance anyway, the girl that’s always moving isn’t one for sitting still and watching others dance. This turned out to be the wrong decision the majority of the time, as I would then just ache a whole lot more afterwards.
Navivgating what I can and can’t do has been a rough ride. Obviously I want to be able to do everything that I could before, no one wants to think that they’re going backwards whilst everyone else is going forwards. In several conversations with Mr Injury Support, Fabiano I’ve talked about how I want to get back to ‘pushing myself like normal’, he has told me that here lies the problem, I’ve been pushing myself too much and this is what has led to his diagnosis:’You have worked through tension and over contracted your lumbar musculature (they are in spasm)’.
I have no desire to control my constant need to be moving and improving, it’s in my nature, but I do now understand that my body is trying to tell me to slow down. For the past few weeks I have been trying to control the girl that can’t sit still… Feldenkrais is my new favourite thing to notice and relieve my pain (when I don’t also notice my fatigue and hang on the edges of sleep for an hour and a half). I’ve been doing a LOT of constructive rest, watching the clouds through the skylight of my leeds bedroom is also pretty relaxing. Attempting to control the stress of my hectic lifestyle is also helping- I didn’t realise just how physical the effect of stress can be on the muscles in my back.
My problem is still that I think that the pure belief of me thinking that I’m ok, will mean that I am ok. I’ll just do a few of these, I can do that, that doesn’t involve arching or weight-bearing, I’ll be fine. This way of working just keeps coming back to haunt me later.
So this reading week involves a lot of time with family and friends, a lot of relaxing, a lot of research, a lot of slowing down and a lot of my time lying on my back. Watching class has made me realise how much I want this still, even after almost a complete year of full time training- I feel so so much more motivated now, not less as people often ask. I so want to dance, and I so can’t wait to dance properly again.