Belly dancing with chronic pain: A personal story
This column holds no advice, no suggestions, no tips, no tricks. This is just my own experience as a long-time amateur belly dancer who unfortunately had to take a break, and how I’ve been dealing with it. Or, sometimes, failing to do so.
Dancing although I am in some level of pain is not particularly new to me. Although I’ve been taking classes in Middle Eastern dance since 2003, in 2011 I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Fibro, although I take medication for it, leaves me with tight, sore muscles and dramatic next-day-soreness in reaction to anything but the lightest activity. I’m also very sensitive to cold, so if I overdo it in the winter I am very, very sorry. My ability to handle my two hours of dance class per week has waxed and waned depending on how I feel.
Last year, however, something came along that really put a crimp in my dance practice: plantar fasciitis. Who knew that stabbing pain in your heel could be such a…well, a pain? I tried icing my foot, massaging it, supportive insoles, you name it. I often could usually get through a day at work, but a dance class? Oddly enough, you need to stand on your feet in class.
And even worse, all the great workshops I’d enjoyed over the years were out of my reach. Ava Fleming! Amaya! Mahmoud Reda! Leila Gamal! Aida Nour! Amel Tafsout! It’s pretty depressing to think of great dancers who might be coming my way, yet I wouldn’t be able to take advantage of their classes. Yeah, I could go, and spend the money on getting to listen, but it just isn’t the same. Let’s face it.
So I have only been able to go to shows over the last year or so. That’s fun, but quite frustrating! And the worst part…the WORST part…has been missing my usual mood lift from dance. That’s what I didn’t realize I was missing–not only the physical activity, but also the spiritual exhilaration I got from going to even the most tiring class. Not to mention seeing my dance friends, a boost by itself.
Do I have a plan? Well…yes, but I’ve had many that didn’t work out. My current plan is to work with small portions of my dance DVD collection at home and go to class for warmups when I can. I’m hoping this will help at least a little, since my doctors can’t give me too much hope about relieving my foot pain totally.
What about you? Have you been working through pain or an injury and trying to continue your dance practice as well? What’s worked better for you? If you have stories to tell, please share them through the editor’s contact link. We’d love to run part 2 of this article with how things are going for you.