Broken Ankle Boogie

by thegoodvillager

It doesn't matter what you look like when you're dancing, as long as you shake something and shake it real good.

Five months ago yesterday, I fell and broke my ankle. It was pretty stupid actually, and a good example of how the tiniest mistake can drastically impact your life.

I live in China, and I had taken a small group of students to the famous, Buddhist Jiming temple in Nanjing. Originally built in 557, it's currently a beautiful vibrant orange.

And tiered - lots of stairs. My downfall - literally.

I had exited the temple proper, and looked up at the strings of flags that appeared above. And I missed a tiny step down as I moved forward. Down I went, ankle twisted. I was surrounded by people, everyone staring impassively. Unfortunately, it is not customary to help strangers in China, so I lay there on the ground in pain until my students, who had run off ahead, realized I was missing and doubled back.

Long story short, I ended up at the hospital and was misdiagnosed with a sprained ankle. Two months later when things weren't progressing quickly enough, and some new pain began to set in, I discovered my ankle was fractured and some bone had now broken off my fibula. Now it's five months from the beginning of the saga, and I still can't walk very well.

But I can dance a little...

More of Me To Love...

Even with my lowered intake of food, something quickly became apparent during the course of my convalescence. I was both gaining weight and losing muscle. If you think about it, it makes sense. There is no mystery to this. If your activity consists of ambling about your apartment on crutches, and that's it, your body is going to change - especially if that wasn't your pre-injury routine.

I admit I didn't handle the injury well at first. Winter kicked in shortly after my injury, my Chinese apartment didn't have heating so resting under blankets became my natural state. I didn't want to go outside in bad weather when I couldn't walk. And I spent time writing rather than exercising.

The change to my body was slow and gradual. It took a few months for me to realize I was putting on weight AND getting flabbier. Once I was able to stand on my own two feet, I knew I had to take charge of my health.

Listening to Your Body

Before undertaking activity while injured, you need to consult with someone. I don't have a lot of choice in the matter in China. Seeing a physician hasn't helped me develop a course of action. The last guy I saw told me not to play sports. That wasn't helpful - I couldn't even stand on my injured foot at the time.

As things have been slowly getting better, I've gauged how much I can do by the quantity and quality of pain I feel. And listening to my body is helping me get stronger.

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Dancing with a Broken Foot

This short video to the left illustrates a few great things. First, the dancer is wearing proper support. I don't have the benefit of a foot brace, so I don't move my bottom half as much as she does. Second, you can see that there is a lot of arm and upper torso movement - and this is key to getting a good cardio work out. When I think about my own dancing typically - I do a lot more foot work. This needs to change if your injury is located in your bottom half. And if you think moving your arms isn't going to give you a work out, think again!

Dance Like No One Is Watching

Because they aren't.

You're in the privacy of your own home, and it doesn't matter what you look like. I do love dancing, and I'm horrible at it (well, according to a few people I've dated in the past...). It doesn't stop me, usually.

Once I decided that I was going to dance my way slim again, I couldn't believe that I'd forgotten the power music and dancing have on my mood. The first thing I was going to do was put together a playlist of songs that normally inspire in me the urge to move.

I am a person who likes to work out at home with videos, and if your are the same way, I would suggest foregoing that until you are in proper form again. The reason I say it is this. I know that if I'm tired or in a bad mood, I'm more likely to quit the video and not exercise at all if I can't keep up with the ultra-fit video instructor. And he or she usually gets a few choice words directed at them as well.

The dancing you do is going to be imperfect, and I'd suggest to just go with what your body can do. Don't necessarily do 10 of one movement and then change. That creates pressure to design a routine. This is supposed to be fun as well as healthy. The more you can let go, enjoy the music, and have fun, the more likely it is that you'll keep on with it every day and bring yourself back to health and fitness.

I'll end with a little peek into my world of groove - no, don't worry, it's not an embarrassing video of me dancing - instead, I've included ten songs from my much larger playlist below. I always put it on shuffle so I don't know what's coming next. The songs I listen to have different tempos so I can change the types of movements I do. And they come from different periods of my life, so I can tap into memories and feelings to fuel my dancing.

And one more thing - you don't have to be injured to make your own playlist and groove at home ;) Check a selection of mine out below.

Updated: 09/19/2014, thegoodvillager
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thegoodvillager on 09/02/2014

Sorry for the late response - absent from Wizzley for a while. I couldn't agree more about the freedom of privacy. Most of my moves are embarrassing, even when I'm not injured :)
I'm pretty much better now, but I'm still dancing at home!

Rose on 01/25/2014

Dancing in the privacy of your home is the best exercise as you can do moves that would be embarrassing if you had an onlooker. And you can do it even if parts of you are injured. Hope your ankle is better now.

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