Knees and Toes

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Well tonight’s lesson and party wasn’t an overwhelming success.  The good news is I finally made a connection to explain part of my moodiness.  The bad news is there really isn’t anything I can do about it.

Self-pity warning – I’m going to a do a little whining here.  It won’t help but some days you just gotta do what you gotta do.

Part of it is my own stupidity/stubbornness.  I hadn’t been to the gym all week because I was trying to rest my aching knees.  Today, I decided to go because things weren’t feeling that bad and I told myself I would just do a mile just to get some activity.  Then, I got the tunes going and I didn’t feel so bad so I just said, screw it, I’ll do two miles.  That was probably too much and my knees were a little sore going into my lesson.

And that impacts my mood in so many ways.  First, when things flair up, it is always on my mind.  So when I have to do some kind of lunge like move, the first thing on my mind is figuring out how far I can go before it hurts.  It means I really can’t fully commit to these steps so they never look and/or feel right and that just allows my thoughts to go to the dark side about how I’m never going to be able to do certain things.

We moved on to Fox Trot and the open routine which has a couple of places where they want me to do some serious rotation.  There is one spot where I’m supposed to “hover” and pivot on one leg.  Again, I can do it but I’ve got all these thoughts in the back of my head about not going too far and being careful and not rising too much.  Then, I do it anyway and my knee or foot complains.

But what really starts to wear on me is knowing that this isn’t going to get any better.  I know where this road leads and I don’t like the path but I can’t get off it.  I know arthritis isn’t life threatening and there are certainly worse things to have but it still sucks.  I can come home and ice and apply all kinds of stuff and it dulls things but it doesn’t make it go away.  Everything I do is a temporary measure and it still means I have good days and I have bad days.  When I’m lucky, I can string several good days in a row and I start to feel good about things.  Right now, it has been several bad days in a row.  I’d take time off but there is nothing that says resting is going to make it go away.  It is bad enough that my mind works against me but my body has decided to throw in as well so I’ve got fight both things and some times it is just too much.  Then, I look at the things they want me to do and I psyche myself out because I figure my knees won’t be able to take it and then the failure cascade starts to happen.

You know I love the studio and the fact that the instructors are all upbeat and peppy but there are times when I’d just like to do my lesson and go home and not have to feel pressured to stay for group and party.  I did stay tonight and made it through the group class.  But my knees were sore and stiff and it was just hard to get excited about the party.  I danced a couple of songs and tried to sneak out and then Sunny came over for one more dance and Kid T came over for one more dance.  I finally had to break away and just leave.  Then OwnerGuy comes over to give me some good natured grief about leaving.  Then, I start to feel like I should just play through the pain and stay.  I usually make up some excuse.

I suppose it would be better to just be up front with everyone but I have problems doing that as well.  For awhile, I didn’t really even let on how bad it was before Showcase but I finally had to (it was after the Argentine Tango lesson where walking was painful).  The other students are really supportive.  I get asked all the time how the knees are.  (Which is a nice thing to ask but I really want to just say – they are breaking down even as we speak or some such smart ass answer).  I guess I should try and make OwnerGuy and the instructors understand that there are just days where the knees are too sore and social dancing just isn’t any fun.  Part of me just doesn’t want to sound like a whiner (I save that for here) so I just try to make up some other excuse.  Yeah, I need to talk to them.

It also doesn’t help at the parties that they won’t let you sit out a dance.  I do a 45 minute private lesson and then a 45 minute group class so I’ve been on my feet for an hour and a half and I just need to sit down for a bit.  But I can’t do that without someone coming over to guilt me into a dance.

Like I said, I know people face much greater challenges than this.  But there are just times when I want to curse the genetics lottery that decided to give me this.  There are times I just want to scream “why me?” at a very loud voice.  This is kind of one of those times so I’m settling for just whining a little bit here.  Sorry to be so depressing.



  1. So sorry to hear your knees are not cooperating with you. I also have knee issues and I know how difficult they can be to deal with. Talk to owner guy and/or your instructors–they might surprise you. Chances are the one or a couple of the them have muscle-skeletal issues they have to have manage as well–so they might not be without understanding.

  2. We walk in the same shoes on this one–some of my earliest memories are my waking up in the middle of the night from the pain in my leg bones and my father rubbing them down with alcohol. Back in those days it was diagnosed as “growing pains”, just a few years ago during a major flare doctors diagnosed it as a serious auto-immune illness (lupus). I was in high school when a doctor told me I’d be in a wheelchair by my early 20s. That’s when I embarked on my own wellness program. Started doing serious stretch & flexibility exercises and just basic calisthenics. Damned if it doesn’t hurt, but it gives me a range and mobility that even some people without any issues lack. And yes, there are good days and bad days and some days when I curse and scream “why me”? And right now I can’t believe that I’m actually talking about this in a very public forum. But there you have it!

    1. Thank you for sharing that! I’m off to some PT in a minute to see if we can do some strengthening stuff to help with the knees. I guess we do what we can and just keep going.

  3. Knee problems here too! I’m glad you wrote that you need to tell your teachers because my first thought was “uh, did you tell them you needed to go easy that day??” Everyone has their physical issues, and if any of the teachers have been dancing for a long time, they definitely have their fair share! So they’ll understand. It doesn’t even have to be a big deal, just say hey, FYI, I’ve got arthritis in my knees and it’s flaring up today, so I need to take it easy. There are so many different things to work on in ballroom, so it’d be easy to modify the plan for that lesson to accommodate. A woman in my studio had shoulder surgery recently and she still came in for a few lessons while she was recovering because she could still work on footwork! I still went in for my lessons while my back tattoo was healing. Even though Teacher couldn’t put me in full frame since he couldn’t touch my back (ouch!), we still had plenty to work on. I think I just completed the outline of one of the chapters for our “No More Excuses!” anthology, haha!

  4. That’s the downside of being a boy who dances – boys don’t get breaks, whether it be in group classes or during dance parties – because there are never enough of us to go around. I have certainly had those nights where I’ve been out and danced myself past the point of exhaustion, where you meant to leave the party half-an-hour ago but all the ladies wanted you to do “just one more dance” with them before you leave.

    If I were at the party, I would have stepped in to take your place so you could take a break. Boys have to help each other out!

  5. You are allowed to whine! You have extra pain and no break. I’m an introverted, non confrontational gal, but I’ve found that the more I assert myself with the dance studio, the easier it is to do it. Make sense? Talk to them about your knees. It’s in everyone’s benefit to know.

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