I’m glad I got orthotics; they really helped ease the pain. I could walk up the steep hill from the river without suffering a day or two or weird leg and hip pain afterwards. It’s a 90-m climb up to where I live, called “Uptown” as opposed to “Downtown” which is five metres up from the Fraser River. That was a few years ago now.

I’m taking my second belly dance class, with Angelina from Scarlet Lux. I saw their show last month in Richmond, and she wrote this article about 10 songs every belly dancer should know. I’m a bit of a song fiend, so I saved that article to my desktop. After my first class with Angelina, I looked at the article and realized, hey, it was by her. She had mentioned in the class she’s a music geek. I thought I was, but she sure knows more about belly dance music than I do.

She introduced me to new soloist drummers, Hassan Ramzy and Issam Housham and then coincidentally I stumbled upon an awesome dancer who was dancing to their music. Check out Tito Seif, and have your mind blown. He also does a crazy thing where he stands ON a doumbek drum and dances, including squatting way down and doing piston hips at the same time on there. A major stunt. He has acrobats in his family background, and that’s not surprising when you see his body and what he can do with ease. I haven’t seen any other dancer that can get down and up with such ease and grace. He’s built like a brick shit-house, pardon the language, but still has tremendous flexibility and grace.

So anyway, about me and my orthotics, my physiotherapist, a few years ago, told me to do some Thera-band exercises, but I didn’t understand why, and they didn’t feel like anything special, and so I didn’t do them. Now that my wonderful student intern massage therapist at WCCMT a massage school here in town, taught me a few things, I’m highly motivated to do these exercises every other day as recommended. (Thanks, Matthew H. and I expect you’ll have a happy career ahead of you.) See, they are muscle strengthening exercises, so you do them every other day, just like weight lifting, so your muscles have a chance to recover. It’s just boring dorsiflexion with Theraband and also ridiculous easy exercise to strengthen gluteus medius, but the reason I’m doing it is because now I understand.

I get horrible muscle cramps at night. I didn’t used to get these. They started about 10 years ago, i.e. in my 40s. This is past the point where either you do something about y our body or you ride it out as it rots underneath you. In other words a lot of maintenance work is needed after age 30-40. I’m pushing 60, aka 55 and holding. 55 is the new 35, but only if you work at it, and I’m willing. I don’t mind getting old and dying, but I wanna minimize the suffering. I want to get rid of the muscle cramps and be strong and balanced overall so I can enjoy dancing more and more without pointless suffering.

So, wonderful Matthew H taught me about agonist/antagonist muscles. To cut to the chase, if you have a muscle that’s cramping, it may  be because the counterbalancing muscle is weak. This allows the muscle in question to get very tight, because it’s strong and there’s a weak muscle pulling on it. Now I have to strengthen the weak muscle, and that’s where the boring exercises that are no longer boring come into play.

So, tight and cramping calves means I gotta strengthen the anterior tibialis with those dorsiflexion exercises. And agonizingly cramping adductors (inner thigh) means strengthen the gluteus medius with some weaksauce easy side leg lifts with bent knee. Later I’ll graduate to tougher exercises based on my googling.

Thing is, I have orthotics and wickedly flat feet — of course they’re gonna be flat at that length (11.5 inches, almost 30 cm) and my weight — but I wanna strengthen them so I can do lovely dead lifts again and more squats than just a few. I wanna be strong, not hobble to my damn grave. Maybe I can live 20-40 more years, but no matter how short/long it is, I’d rather be strong all over than crumblingly weak, thanks.



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