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Injuries and Aches and Pains - How you deal with them as a dancer?

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  • Injuries and Aches and Pains - How you deal with them as a dancer?

    Injured and Unable to Dance
    By Dan Wilson

    Injuries can happen to anyone and usually occur without warning. If Salsa dancing is a big part of your life, how would you deal with it if you were unable to dance because of an injury? This happened to me recently.

    Several months ago I was playing racquetball with my friend Phil on a Saturday afternoon. I was feeling good after having won the first two games. We agreed to play one more game. It happened shortly after starting the third game. I took two steps and hit a backhand and POW!! It felt like someone hit me with a baseball bat in the back of my ankle. The pain was intense. I went down immediately. I thought at first Phil had run into me and kicked me accidentally. When I looked back he was standing ten feet away from me. If he didn't run into me, what happened? I got up and tried to walk and my left ankle just gave way. There was no strength or support and I couldn't push off on it. This made walking difficult. The thought crossed my mind that this injury may stop me from dancing for a while. I figured that I better focus on getting to a doctor for now and worry about dancing later. Phil had to help me walk to the car. The sports club manager showed concern until I told him that it's not the club's fault and assured him I wouldn't file a lawsuit.

    From there Phil and my wife Lory drove me to the emergency room. The ER doctor guessed I had torn my Achilles. They put a temporary splint on it, advised me to stay off my feet and see an orthopedic specialist on Monday. They gave me some Percoset for the pain and sent me home.

    I was at home sitting around (with my new cast )and all sorts of questions going through my mind. My main question: How long would it be before I would be able to dance Salsa again? With no orthopedic doctor available until Monday I looked to the Internet for some information about torn Achilles. Most of the information I found indicated that with surgery, a full recovery is usually achieved. Without surgery the tendon may never heal properly on it's own. Dan Marino and Dominique Wilkens are professional athletes who have suffered torn Achilles. Both opted for surgery and both have totally recovered. I usually prefer to avoid going under the knife. In this case it appeared that better results are achieved through surgery.

    The following Monday I got to see the specialist (finally!) He recommended surgery and said that it would be a few months before I could dance again and about five or six months before I could play racquetball I thought "to hell with racketball, just get me back on the dance floor!" His comments were consistent with everything I had read about this injury so I decided to go ahead with the surgery.

    The following day I had the operation to reattach the Achilles tendon. The operation went well.

    The next few months were a difficult change in lifestyle.! I was in a cast for a few weeks and a removable brace for even longer. It was a treat to finally be able to get rid of the brace and wear a shoe again. I had to go to Physical Therapy to regain the range of motion and strength in my ankle. The most difficult thing in this was the lifestyle change and being unable to dance. My wife and I usually dance at least once a week. We've been married for 13 years and started dancing Salsa three years ago. Since then Salsa dancing is something we've come to look forward to every week.

    I did everything to keep my mind occupied and focused in a positive direction. I knew I had to keep myself busy. No sitting around feeling sorry for myself! I kept telling myself this is temporary. I couldn't dance but I still enjoyed listening to the music. (Thanks to George Rivera for the great selections!). Also, it helps to have support of friends and family. I don't think I would have handled this well without the support of my wife. Thanks sweetheart! I appreciate all the TLC.

    One thought kept occurring to me is that I would be able to dance again. To put it in perspective, I’m lucky that this was only a minor injury. I was reading about how a Salsero had to have his leg amputated after a nearly fatal car accident. What’s not being able to dance three months compared to a losing a leg?

    An important thing to remember is that even though each of us is the center of our own universe we are not the center of everyone else's universe. There are friends and acquaintances and those that fall somewhere in between the two groups. There were a few people that I hoped would call me or visit me that were unable to. Even though I was disappointed, I understand they had other things going on.

    At the time I write this its been three months since the surgery. I'm happy to say I have am now able to dance again. It'll be a few more months before the ankle is 100% but hey, I'm just happy to be able to get out on the dance floor.

    This injury has forced me to make some personal decisions and prioritize what's important. Salsa dancing is important to me. Therefore, I've decided to give up sports that have some risk of injury such as racquetball, basketball, tennis etc. I just want to dance Salsa.

    What have been YOUR experiences, and how did you deal with it?

  • #2
    Pulled my hamstring during a trick

    I had a similar problem. I don't know how it happened but i was doing this trick with some girl who I don't even know and my leg just stretched way too far. I had the salsa "high" that night and did not feel a thing till the next morning. I don't drink but that morning it hurt so bad I slammed the rest of my room mate's tequilla. god the pain was so bad. I stretched it, put bengay, went and had it massaged, and wammo! the massage worked. I don't know what felt better her hands or HER.

    later that night i went dancing. dude. i was in pain in line but once i got on the dance floor NO PAIN. Not until the next day. did the same thing, slammed the tequilla, slammed the massage therapist, and went dancing again that night. this became a regular thing for about four days until the pain went away.

    pretty cool


    • #3
      I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing, but I've got a fairly high tolerance for pain. But I've had mornings where I was hobbling around work with a sore back or quads that could barely move. But I allow myself to take a couple of days off during the week and get to bed early. I realize that I can't stay up until midnight every night at then up at 5am to get to work.

      I know that right now, Salsa is the most important thing in my life. I know that if I take a couple nights off, the dance floor will still be there; the ladies will still be there and they deserve me in good form.