Thoughts From An Inflexible Dancer

“We are are what we repeatedly do. Success is not an action, but a habit”

-Aristotle

I don’t remember when I stared dancing. It is something I have done since I started to walk. Blame it on the Vivaldi my mom put on her tummy while I was developing. But through the around twenty years I have been moving I have never been particularly flexible. Yes I’m more flexible than the average human being, but in the dance world I am super stiff. 

I don’t remember the last time my chest touched my knees. Finally getting into a split was a miracle and I haven’t been there for many years. Sitting on the floor with my legs opened to the side I make less than a 90 degree angle. Mind you I go to hot yoga around five days a week and sometimes for two hours a day.

And I don’t remember a time that I wasn’t harsh on myself about this. But as I slowly heal my ankle injury I realize that after years of stretching there is no reason to push my body into any uncomfortable situations. Stretching is necessary, but pushing for extreme flexibility can be extremely dangerous if done incorrectly. Something that not many people know about me is that one day around age 12 I collapsed going home from school. Luckily my mother was there, and basically dragged me home. My knees just gave out. The doctor diagnosed my condition as Osgood-Schlatter disease. I was pushing my body too far as a young athlete going through a growth spurt. I had to stop dancing for a month, learned to be comfortable with walking again, and then slowly got back to dancing. I am lucky now- my knees do not really bother me much anymore, however I do not push them with high impact sports like I used to. After rehabbing my ankle I have to come to realize that my knees do not hurt, but I experience immense pain around them when trying to stretch in certain directions.

I remember thinking- why am I doing this? Why am I putting my body into such extreme pain? Not discomfort. Stretching is uncomfortable. But pain? So I closed my legs and hugged them to my chest, and I the rest of the class continued to fold forward.

I urge you to listen to what your body is trying to tell you. It may be trying to protect itself. I have not felt any knee pain, and maybe it is because they are staying nice and tight. I urge you to be gentle. Day after day, and little by little you will get there. I urge you to be kind. Your body does so much. Love it, the way you speak to yourself matters.

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