When I was in junior high, I was hit by a car. My best friend and I had a particular route we normally took to and from school. One day we decided to vary from the norm. We were going to branch out and explore new and exciting routes, maybe meeting the boy of our dreams and living happily ever after.
We were deep in discussion when the little white guy flashed up, indicating the stop lights were aligned so we could cross. Neither of us bothered to check traffic, we were young and bold – we assumed that cars would stop their forward momentum and obey the rules of the road. Needless to say on this day we were wrong.
A woman saw the yellow light and decided to gun it. She was running late. My friend and I stepped out to the street as the woman was accelerating. When she realized that we had not seen her and were going on our merry way, she attempted to slam on the brakes, but it was too late as she was going at a rate of speed that didn’t slow easily. The next few minutes are sketchy at best for me. I’m fairly certain I was knocked out for some time. I do have vague recollections of being hit, blinding pain, bouncing along the hood, falling off onto the pavement and being slammed in the head with a rate of force that gave me a concussion. My brain kicked into overdrive when I could open my eyes. I saw a shoe lying by me in the street, so I grabbed it, and crawled as best I could to the closest curb (I later found out it was my friend’s shoe, we had been hit so hard it had knocked our shoes off). I was aware of the fact I was in the middle of the street, I could hear sirens, and I was terrified of being run over. I was shocked to see crowds of kids gathered around looking at me, for they hadn’t been there earlier.
Both my friend and I were lucky, for neither of us suffered any broken bones. I was deeply bruised, however, and couldn’t walk for days. I had been hit square on my hip, and have suffered ever since with hip pain. There have been times where my hip has flared up to the point I cannot walk. This normally happened when I overused my hips and the blunt force of learning to fall during my ju jitsu years caused me many nights of gritting my teeth and working through the pain.
My ballet instructor knows of this injury, she said it is quite evident in my form, my flexibility and my jumps. She believes I have scar tissue in my hip that is holding me back from achieving the same type of flexibility other women my age can attain through ballet. Lately she has been doing more and more hip flexibility exercises in class. After Wednesday night class, where we used the wall to push against as we stretched, I could barely walk. I was worried I was going to have a hip flare up. Admittedly, on Thursday I was pretty sore. On top of the stretches, we had also done 100’s of jumps and plies. It was a difficult class all around. Friday I was back to normal, which was good because I had class again today and she had us back to the wall pushing and stretching our body. Both my teacher and I noticed a huge increase in my flexibility between Wednesday and today. I am again sore, definitely feeling it in my hip flexors – but I also had the most amazing thought.
Since I started ballet several years ago, I have not had one single flare up with my hip. You would think that all the leaps, stretches, splits, kicks, and jumps – not to mention the turn out of my legs – would have aggravated my joints. It’s not to say I haven’t been sore – believe me, I have been sore, tired and even injured my legs at times (by incorrectly moving my body), but even so that has not cause my hip joints to flare up. I have often thought that ballet will be something I can do as I age. I know I might not have the energy I have now, but it has been my hope that I will just continue to grow more skilled as the years pass so that the energy I expend will be different anyway. I am encouraged to see women who are older than I continue to work on their flexibility and overcome their own issues.
I’m so glad I found ballet. It is challenging, invigorating, and enjoyable. My flexibility had come along before I tore my hamstring last year, but I still don’t think I’m at the bottom of the class. Lately I have felt that my flexibility is holding me back from becoming a better dancer, so it is my current focus. I want to not just age while doing ballet, but age gracefully. Someday I won’t be just an inflexible dancer.