I read in the news recently that one of UK’s Strictly Come Dancing professional dancers is struggling with osteoarthritis in both knees. She’s 37 now, but was already in a lot of pain during the 2016 final, so she’d have been only 32 then… Ouch. Thank goodness she and her celebrity partner won, for her pains!
She was told she needs surgery but said, “if I do that, I might not be able to dance the same again.” That’s certainly true; but then the same is true of not having surgery. It’s a horrible dilemma. I have no doubt this poor girl will be seeking help from any and every possible source - and quite possibly getting a lot of contradictory advice as a result. And I can empathise. Been there, done that, as they say. When things are desperate, you’ll try anything.
And then there's UK tennis star and one-time Wimbledon Champion Andy Murray, who's had a hip joint (both head of the femur and socket) resurfaced with metal, and he's only 34...
Reading their stories, I feel great compassion; but reading them makes me feel strangely grateful that my own joint problems ‘only’ began in my mid-forties.
Some people seem to ‘get away’ with punishing physical regimes or harmful repetitive movement patterns without developing things like osteoarthritis and debilitating joint pain; while others sadly don’t. Of course, sometimes there are congenital issues involved, or injury. Sometimes, it’s just the way someone has learned to move. And sometimes it will be a confusing mixture of these things. Whatever the case, the task is then to establish the best course (or courses) of action.
Chronic pain is distressing, demoralising, exhausting, and life-limiting. Musculoskeletal therapies, emotional support, and learning how to move as safely and easily as possible, are the best combination for self-care in such cases. And of course, it’s extremely important, unless you’re in competitive sports, not to compare yourself with fitter people, which does nothing for the morale.
Alexander Technique can play a very valuable part in managing conditions; restoring some sense of agency and the knowledge that you’re doing the best you can for yourself; going as easy as possible on your body, reasoning out where you are in the process of your current condition, and knowing how to figure out your next best step.
If you'd like more information about how the Alexander Technique can help you, please get in touch via my contact form.