Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Home Stretch, Sort of...

I'm back from my week of "getting away from it all", which wasn't on a beach on Paradise Island but was spent tromping the sidewalks of New York, visiting my family, and taking in the whole different scene and energy that is the city. I had a wonderful time.

But now it's back to business. Progress on getting me and my ankle ready to work again has been moving forward in fits and starts. After my little setback I'm feeling ultra-cautious a bit nervous about pushing it too much, too fast, but at the same time am acutely aware that the clock is ticking and I need to keep moving forward at a good pace. The main stumbling block seems to be jumping on my right leg. For one thing, despite all the gazillions of exercises intended to stave off just this problem, my entire right leg is just less powerful than my left. And the impact of landing on that ankle seems to be one thing it is reluctant to accept. I've been practicing in the pool a lot lately, which feels great and (I imagine) helps recondition my nervous system to understand the mechanics and coordination of accelerating and landing, as well as jumping in the studio with gradually more and more amplitude. Jumps on two feet are mostly fine, but traveling steps and pushing off one foot (namely the right one) are dicey.

My daily routine is still similar to what it's been all summer long, minus teaching class now that the summer course has ended. I'm in the studio every day, either taking a class or doing one by myself. What am I mainly focusing on? Everything. Super-correct placement and alignment, articulation, speed (both quick and slow), strength and control. I do extra releves at barre, working on springing up to pointe quickly, which I hope will translate into a quick spring action in allegro. An extra-long adagio is also super for getting back muscular stamina, though I wouldn't say it's fun. And strangely, I have to kind of recalibrate my balance to get used to spotting in turns again! If you haven't done consecutive turns for a while, like chaines, the first few times feel bizarre and wildly out of control.

After class I'll head either to the PT clinic for some manual therapy, pilates workout, a little bike riding, and balance and stabilization exercises, or to the pool for some laps and shallow-end playtime. My playtime is a little different from the kiddies romping around with their styrofoam noodles and the dudes playing water volleyball, but whatever... it's a big pool and we stay out of each other's way. I'm doing several sets of sautes on each leg,which must make me look ridiculous bouncing up and down like I'm a pogo stick, but so what.

Somewhere during the day I fit in all the other "accessory items" that are on the list of things to do, like stretching out after all that work (got to keep the calves loose-- they're readjusting to all this impact, too), icing my foot, massaging it with Traumeel. I've also got to get my feet used to being in pointe shoes for extended periods of time again, so (don't laugh, I'm not the only one who does this) I have taken to wearing pointe shoes around the house. No joke, it is a great way to build your feet back up! My feet are still baby's-bottom soft.... that has got to change or else my ankle problems will be overshadowed by toe pain of a serious degree.

And, finally, I can see those athletes in China cashing in on their hard work, which is definitely fun to see and inspiring as well. There was a time, back when I was about 10, that I wished ballet was an Olympic sport so I could go compete and win a medal. Thank heavens it's not, because now I know that I hate competing and would crumble under the pressure, but I still get a little push of energy watching other people do it!

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