Tango, Breathing and the Entrega

I’ve learnt something interesting about the role of breathing in dancing tango and how it would enhance the possibilities of the entrega.

It works like this. My partner, the leader, shifts his weight to his right axis and takes a breath which is visible to my gaze. As he steps forward to either start or continue the dance, he exhales and we flow forward. If I’m with him, I will breathe in and out in response.

That’s the theory which I learnt last week in a lesson with David and Di of Sidewalk Tango. It sounds simple, feels good and I’m looking forward to trying to remember to think about my breathing whilst dancing.

Return to Tango after Total Hip Replacement: Weeks 14-15

Well! I have actually returned to tango.

I decided that part of the process would be to have a private lesson with my teacher, David Backler, from Sidewalk Tango which is where we learn. I wasn’t sure of how strong I was or what my stamina would be like and wanted to test that with a very experienced dancer who would have a good feel for where I was at. I felt I needed to be kept safe.

I was nervous but the lesson went well as we gradually moved from walking to going into the cross. That was a test of my straight back leg which had got a bit timid over the last few months off the floor. It was good to focus on that crispness and also remember to focus the gaze onto my partner’s chest. Interesting that I’d lost a bit of that concentration. We did two twenty minute sessions and it felt really good and encouraging. I enjoyed doing an ocho which flipped around instead of me having to winch myself around.

Encouraged by that, I joined the Intermediate Class on the following Wednesday. That was harder. Not all partners wait for the lady to get on her axis and I’m very sensitive to that at the moment. We did voleos as part of the dance figure and my hip  and leg are not quite ready to do a lot of them in succession. I sat out for a few minutes about two thirds through but next time will stop for a break each 15 minutes. The nature of a class is repetition and that’s a bit tiring. However, I was pleased and excited to have managed it.

In the Practica following the class, I had a couple of good dances with friends who were thoughtful and considerate in their lead. That was enjoyable.

We went to the Practica the following Sunday afternoon where I had a pleasant time of dancing a couple of songs and then resting before some more. Partners were thoughtful and steady in their lead.

Generally, I can still feel the stiffness in my thigh muscles and am aware of needing to strengthen up.

I’m starting a clinical Pilates class this week and am looking forward to that very specific strengthening and stretching.

All I take now is a couple of Panadol Osteos before a class to help with the distraction of the thigh tightness.

 

 

 

 

Return to Tango after Total Hip Replacement. Weeks 11-13

These have been a good few weeks. First, I’m off the Targin. Probably I did it a bit too quickly, but who knows. I had a week or so of feeling a bit uneasy and unwell, a bit cold but with no pain so I was happy enough to put up with that. Now I’m fine- still on Panadol Osteo but starting to ease back on the anti-inflammatories. No hip pain, just muscular tightness which comes and goes with what exercise I’ve done.

I’m getting stronger and looser but it will take quite a bit more time to be any where near normal – whatever that is/was!

As for Tango – I joined the Beginners’ Class last week for the introductory walking section and enjoyed it hugely and it felt fine. However, it was interesting how much harder it was to walk in strict time and at a slower pace than just practising at home.

I actually danced last weekend at a wedding- a mixture of bopping around and some simple tango to very untango rock music. To my surprise, I found myself doing some good neat ochos. My new hip feels so much stronger than the poor old one which I now realize had no strength or support.

 

Return to Tango: Week 5 after Anterior Hip Replacement

The Sidewalk Tango class this week was on Open and Closed Embrace.. I would really have liked to do that class to help me refine what I know already. At least this week, I felt strong enough to stand in the lounge and do some of the steps which don’t involve twisting. 

I enjoyed the regular Wednesday night after-class Practica. My legs and feet felt quite strong and springy as they walked and I relished the changes of pace and direction that Nick led me into. I can now go into the cross and step out backwards and even follow the lead to step over my partner’s leg. This is very encouraging as it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to cross my right leg over towards the left side of my body. I even tried an ocho on my new right hip joint. I did take care to set myself up on my axis and engage every muscle I could think of before moving into the step. It worked and felt alright but at the same time, I was aware that it wouldn’t be a good idea to do many more of them. It was encouraging to be able to complete a whole Tanda.

Background.

Thigh muscles are still tight and complaining but less so.However, I can loosen them more quickly now with stretches.  My upper thigh is still a little bit swollen.

Exercises: I’m increasing the the intensity of these now. It’s odd, but  during the last few weeks most of my energy has been spent managing daily life and I didn’t seem to have the energy for doing a lot of exercises.  Now I have and it’s good to do them and start feeling specifically stronger. My poor old left leg needs as much attention as the right.

Backache: still there and I’m a bit sick of it. But it is ‘just’ muscular for which I am grateful.

Walking: much better around the block now. I can walk quite steadily and at a sensible speed but still find it hard to maintain the enrgy for sustained walking.

Pain relief: down to Targin10 twice a day for a week. Time to step down further.

Return to Tango: 4 weeks after total hip replacement

This week, I actually did ‘return to tango’, on day 22 to be precise. Sidewalk Tango resumed classes on Wednesday, Feb 4th, after the summer break and Nick did the Intermediate class and I watched.

It was a quiet, reflective class with the last of the daylight filtering rosily through the drawn back curtains. The couples gradually became silhouetted against the last of the light as they worked on musicality and fluidity. Towards the end of their lesson, I put on my tango shoes for the first time in months. These are flat shoes as I have trouble with my metatarsal arches and don’t go near heels. It was achievement to bend enough to tie my laces.

During the twelve days since my first tentative steps at the Australia Day Milonga, my normal walking had freed up, my balance strengthened and I was more physically confident.

I stood in the embrace, waited for the lead and felt quite strong. And I was. I could step back, straighten my leg (no more creeping, Di) and feel spring in my feet and calves. I felt better than I did in my last ‘dance’ before stopping completely last year.

At one stage, Nick inadvertently led me into a little ocho – I flipped around automatically! What have I done!! I shoudn’t be doing this yet! Yet it felt fine, no pain, no strain, just a neat,quick ocho – straight and strong. Well, I’d better put that away for a couple more weeks.

I managed three pleasurable dances, a full song each, but just one at a time with a rest between. Two were with Nick and the third with a friend who led me around carefully and safely. That was another milestone.

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As a background to the actual tango, this is what was happening.

Stretches increasing and improving. Aiming for standing knee lifts, pulling knee into chest on floor, loosening tight hamstrings, thigh muscles, lower back. All still pretty tight but improving.

Strengthening: balancing, squats and increasing walks up stairs. Can do 5 flights of 11 steps up and down in one go now.

Walks. Can now do the 5 minute walk around the block quite comfortably and have today tried a different bigger block – 10 mins – good until the last couple of minutes. Tired and noticeable in the right glute.

Tightness easing in thigh muscles and I can now squat on my heels- just.

Back ache still there first thing as I wake. It goes during the day. It will gradually ease as all this tightness eases.

Started to reduce the Targin by a third during the day, ie down from 15 to 10, with the 15 still at night.That seems ok so far. In a couple of days, I’ll drop the night dose to 10 and see what happens.

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I wonder if anyone is reading this! I would have liked to learn about the rehabilitation process before my hip replacement, which is part of the reason for writing these rather navel/hip gazing posts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to Tango after a Total Hip Replacement. Day 10

Day 10. My walking has improved a lot, so much so, that I suggested to Nick that we try a few small tango walking steps.

We stood facing each other with my crutches parked against the kitchen bench. We opened our arms to take the embrace. It felt odd and uncomfortable. I think I must have been standing stiffly, Nick’s posture felt nervous and the whole thing was awkward. Nick took a tentative few tiny steps, I tried to follow but my right leg and hip had very little strength. Walking backwards felt unsafe and definitely unpleasurable.

OK. I wasn’t ready for that but decided to practise by myself. I could hold onto the kitchen bench and walk backwards at my own pace. That was better. I continued to walk to the music and when we tried again the next day the ‘experience’ did feel safer and marginally more fluent.

About the next day, about day 12 by now, the muscles in my feet sort of released so that I could walk heel ,sole and toe- not just plonking down a flat foot. That made a big difference to the smoothness of my walking and the practice to the music became very enjoyable. I could do this with just one crutch now.

Return to Tango After a Total Hip Replacement. Day 7.

IMG_20150122_142445 IMG_20150122_142524

My Right Total Hip Replacement-Anterior Muscle Sparing Approach operation was performed a week ago (I’ve only posted this now)

What a triumph of medical technology and surgical skill that has been. This is Mr Phong Tran’s demonstration ceramic and titanium hip joint – the stem and the socket. I like the grooves on the unpolished shaft (see the cutaway image) which encourage the new bone growth to attach to..

It’s a strange thought to think of that new inert shaft being inserted and cemented into my living femur. My femur is now truncated, neatly sawn off, and the slim, shiny titanium stem extends and holds the polished ceramic ball. I meant to ask if it really is pink. I try to imagine how my body’s muscles, blood vessels, tendons and  nerves, adjust to the different proportions, edges and angles.They must have to fold in and around the new structure. I’d like to see a real colour 3D image of that.

I can’t tell by feel. I don’t feel anything in my hip – it’s not numb- but there is no glute pain, no inner ache. Nothing. Is that what normal is like? I’ve forgotten. Of course, I don’t really know what I might be feeling in there because I’m on 12 hourly Targin tablets which I’m presuming are suppressing any pain. Do you have pain if you don’t feel it?

This new hip is working very well. The Anterior approach, a 10 cm incision on the thigh, starting from the crease between the body and the thigh, has eliminated most of the restrictons which follow Lateral or Posterior approaches. The only real restriction is to not lunge or step back too strongly with the new hip. This puts pressure on the incision and the weakened, settling muscles.

This move is actually alarmingly like the lady’s walking step backwards in tango. I’m going to have to be very careful with that for about 6 weeks.

In fact, my new hip is thinking Tango! Today I put some tango music on while I was doing my exercises. I was practising walking tall and evenly with my crutches and found myself walking in tango rhythm. What a happy unanticipated moment it was to feel the spontaneous movement after all the post-op careful, controlled  and on the edge of pain walking up.

Let’s see what happens next!