Raise your hand if you lie when you go to the doctor.
Raise your hand if you downplay your injuries.
Raise your hand if you didn’t raise your hand for either, but you were lying (I raised my hand for both).
Trust me—I understand the temptation. Coming clean about pain or an injury can mean months of recovery, missing key performances and classes, and generally not doing the thing you love doing.
But picture this: you feel an ache in your lower back. You decide to push through the pain. You’re dancing daily, totally ignoring all of the things that your body is telling you. One day, you’re walking—you feel a shooting pain down the back of your leg so bad it makes you buckle at the knee. You don’t know what to do, so you head to your PT; turns out, you have sciatica, and because you’ve been dancing daily and ignoring the pain, a disc in your lower back is so bad that you need surgery.
Which is worse—prevention or reaction?
I know that this is easier said than done; as the self-proclaimed queen of injuries, I’ve had my fair share of ignoring pain—and regretting it.
When I was younger, I was fooling around in the studio. I had been playing a game with my friends, trying to invent outlandish tricks that we knew would never make the stage. I jumped up in the air and somehow found myself on the floor, in a right split. To this day, I remember the awful, shooting pain that I felt in my hip. It was so bad that I knew that if I took one more step on it, I wouldn’t be able to move my leg for a long time. Yet, I told no one how horrible it was, and insisted on dancing the rest of class anyway. Thereafter, I missed three performances while I waited for my fractured hip to heal.
My biggest regret wasn’t that I had to sit out, or that I couldn’t dance with my friends. My biggest regret was that if I had just stopped dancing and told someone, I probably would have had a shorter recovery time. And in the end, finishing a class definitely wasn’t worth the pain.
Our bodies have a way of speaking to us, even if we don’t want to listen. And if we don’t listen on the first round, they’ll talk louder. That’s why it’s important to always tell the truth about your body: if you think you might be injured, tell someone so that you don’t risk making it worse. If you think you might be sick, or something may be wrong internally, see a doctor so that you can get help or treatment. Missing one performance now doesn’t end your career; risking your health for one performance can end it immediately.
Tell us in the comments below some of your favorite tips for staying motivated and focused after you've had to sit out for an injury.