It seems Jon Snow is not the only one reluctant to do this…
We were working on quickstep tonight (which for some reason seems like something I haven’t done in two years), and after starting with some clarification in the fishtail, we moved on to the hover corte, which is a new step for me in my gold routine.
Ever have a night where it seems like your mind and body just won’t work together?
That was me tonight. My mind understood (for the most part) what I needed to do, but my body just could not figure out how to consistently make it happen. That said, I am hopeful that it will be one of those things that once my mind has an opportunity to sleep on it (literally), it will process the information and start working out.
The root of the problem though seems to stem some from my knees, particularly my right knee.
As I have mentioned before, knee issues and knee pain have been an on-going thing for me since before cancer. I tend towards patella femoral syndrome, which is an issue that takes a lot of time and strengthening to work out. After 6 weeks off of activity, my knees were feeling pretty good, but of course returning to activity has caused them to flare up some (which I was told to expect). My right knee tends to be the instigator, and my left joins in when it has to compensate.
So what does this have to do with dance?
When my knees get sore, my mind starts to unconsciously compensate by avoiding bending them, and in particular by avoiding allowing me to put my weight on one of them at a time while bent. It also knows that I tend to be more unstable when standing on a bent right leg.
Particularly in standard, I had been working on moving with bent legs through all my steps and to break myself of the habit of step on mostly straight legs. Part of it is a strength issue, the other is simply breaking habits and giving myself the permission to keep my legs bent. Stepping on a straight leg was one of the biggest issues tonight. What’s interesting, is that it was an issue almost always only when stepping on the right leg and having to rise.
Exactly what my body like to avoid doing.
I had a bit of a thought after I got home tonight and did an experiment that brought interesting results. One of the things Boss seemed to be pointing out was that I had a reluctance to move my weight completely over my right leg when I know I will be changing direction, preferring to keep my weight more to left, and particularly to tend to thrust my right hip out to the side.
So, when I got home, I tried comparing what happens when I balance on each leg with a bent knee. The result? I am quite stable and comfortable standing on a bent left knee, and it feels perfectly natural to do so without any help from my hip. Standing on a bent right knee is a bit of a disaster. I have to almost consciously think to keep my hip from falling out, and I can feel my foot moving back and forth to try to keep the balance. I can also stand for a prolonged time on my left, but after 10 seconds on my right, I can feel my hip start to tire.
Well, that tells me where my body needs some concentrated work, beginning with just building endurance for standing on a bent right knee.
It’s an exercise I remember doing at some point 2-3 years ago.
I don’t know if that will help directly with dance (it can’t hurt, I suppose), but on top of that I will have to start forcing my mind to pay attention to how I am stepping on my right in standard–especially in pivoting or rising steps to start breaking my current habit and helping my body rebuild it’s strength.
Speaking of building strength, I have started doing 15 mins of body weight exercises at home every other day, mostly to help my knees (they are all exercises I was doing on direction from my trainer and physio before the surgery). Them plus pushups against the wall seem to be a good place to start with some strength training.
I also stayed to do some practice after my lesson tonight, although I compromised with myself and limited it to 30 minutes just to review my latin routines and some of the hand work I did last week. I also took some time to work on my traveling spins in paso and keeping my elbow in front of me, which was the second half of my lesson on Monday (natural rolls in samba was the first half). I couldn’t do quite as much as I wanted as I was feeling a bit light-headed and getting dizzy, so I erred on the side of caution and stopped spinning when my balance stopped cooperating.
I am finding myself a little more tired this week, but as my body is still adjusting to the stopping of the anti-depressants, and the return to work, its not unusual. I also had a bit of a harder time sleeping Monday and Tuesday night with a sudden heat wave. Since it cooled off today, I hope to sleep better tonight.
Speaking of sleep, over the next couple weeks I will be working on reducing the dose of my insomnia medication, another positive step. The reduction is in my control, but it seems that I am reaching the point where it will be possible, since a lot of the insomnia increasing medications are out of my system now. It will be interesting to see how it goes.
A lot of positive things going on, and thankfully nothing unexpected coming up (knock on wood!). There are a lot of gradual increases and I am keeping an eye on things as I go along.
8 Weeks until the competition. At this point, I am not too sure about how the preparation will go. It seems like we are not quite covering as much in my lessons as Boss hopes, although I am optimistic it will pick up momentum once we get some of the major issues cleared up and out of the way. Other than endurance in general (which is going to be an issue for some time), there is really only one routine I am completely unsure of (quickstep), one routine I lack some confidence in (especially in my ability to do it at full speed, paso), and a few routines with the odd step I am not sure about. Its really not a bad place to be considering its been a week since I have started back to activity.
Overall, I am doing good. Looking forward to moving further on this path.
Lots to be optimistic about!