Monday, April 26, 2010

A Side Trip into the Social Graces

Holy Cross playing Brown in a game of football

"Different muscle groups," that's what a personal trainer would say, "You're using different muscle groups -- ones that don't usually get this kind of treatment -- and they're reminding you of it in no uncertain terms."

I don't have a personal trainer, just so you know. I couldn't afford one on a medical student's salary (student loans) even if I wanted one. But I imagine that's what s/he'd say when I got to the gym complaining of pain in my middle back along a line connecting the lower tips of my shoulder blades (inferior angle of the scapula, in technical terms). Of course, s/he would be right, that's precisely what I'm doing, using those muscles in ways that leave me tossing and turning all night, looking for an elusive and seemingly non-existent comfortable position.

All of this comes about from holding my arms in the 10-2 position during Saturday evening dancing class. More than that, it's holding them at angles that force my back into rebellion, while reaching for partners who are considerably shorter than me. When I first began this side trip into the social graces I was glad my dog and I walk as much as we do, because it renders the cardiovascular workout that is an hour on the dance floor, no problem. It's the skeletal muscle issue that's forcing me into new territory.

Now, this works on a couple of levels. For one thing, I tore a medial collateral ligament in my left knee a few years ago, at the same time ripping a tiny piece from my medial meniscus. Both healed nicely, but standing or, as the case may be, dancing on hard surfaces for extended periods, tends to aggravate the old injury. Couple this with the muscle pain, the morning after class I feel more like I've been playing football rather than tripping the light fantastic.

As a result of it all, I've got to get in shape. I figure practicing while holding weights in each hand will strengthen my back and remembering my knee brace will take care of the lower extremity. I can probably leave my shoulder pads and helmet at home, unless the instructor decides we need to learn a few Patrick Swayze (Dirty Dancing) moves. If that happens, we will have shifted to the arena of "contact" sports, in which case, I just may need some extra protection.

(Image of unknown licensure via Wikipedia)
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