FOOTLOOSE OR PHYSIO? Kevin Bacon bust some serious moves as dance-warrior Ren McCormack in the ’80s film Footloose, presumably without busting his body and needing follow-up physiotherapy.
When weddings are bad for your body
It’s May. All the local lambs and royal babies have arrived, now it’s time for wedding season. Who knew I would get so excited about a royal wedding? Nobody, least of all me.
Actually, to let you in on a little secret, I’m not overly excited about The Wedding. Based on three or four discussions I’ve had with patients over the last week though, it’s worth talking about weddings. Not from a planning perspective, nor a fashion one for that matter. I’m not great at either.
What’s interesting is how many folks have ended up with post-wedding injuries of late. While you occasionally hear the almost unbelievable stories – like the neighbour who rolled his ankle on the edge of the dance floor and took down my sister’s wedding cake in the process – it’s worth talking about the innocuous stuff that can happen.
I had a call this week from a lady whose back was killing her after attending a wedding over the weekend. She was understandably worried that she might have a slipped disc or that it might turn into sciatica or something relatively serious.
When I asked her could she think of any reason for the pain, she told me she had done a bit of dancing, but nothing over the top.
As the discussion went on, she remembered that she had been wearing higher heels than her normal ‘comfortable, sensible heels’, as she called them. She also remembered the standing around that happens at weddings. In the church, outside the church, at the drinks reception, in the bar. You could be standing around, not moving much, for hours over the course of the day and night, and that can get pretty uncomfortable, even in ‘sensible heels’.
Then there’s the dancing. Now, before you think I’m about to launch into a diatribe à la Reverend Shaw Moore from Footloose, let me explain something.
If I was to take a non-tennis player and get them to play tennis for two hours, they’d expect a sore shoulder the next day. I’ve said it before that the first sunny weekend in spring that gets wannabe Diarmuid Gavins out doing a whole day in the garden provides three weeks’ worth of work for physiotherapists. Would it not also make sense that ‘a bit of dancing’ to someone who does very little of it could make you a bit sore the next day?
Another patient complained of a tweaked hamstring at football training. Fair enough, where else would you expect that to happen? Interestingly he’d been at a wedding the day before, and driven a couple of hours back, just in time for training. While he was here, he remembered that his hip was stiff sitting in the car for that long. Oh, and he was a bit ‘dusty’, as often happens at these things. Could the combination of fatigue, dehydration, headache and being stiff after a two-hour drive have contributed to his hamstring issue? I reckon there’s a chance.
So what do you do? Decline all wedding invitations? Especially for anything further than half an hour from home? And stay well away from the dance floor? Don’t be daft. You use your brain and try to move around a bit whenever possible, just the same as you would any other day.
I’m no expert in ladies’ fashion, but maybe having a pair of shoes for the early part of the day, when you’ve just got to be looking your best, and another, more comfortable pair for later, when you need to be able to really move on the dancefloor, isn’t a bad idea.
You maybe don’t push too hard at training the following day (if you have to go at all). Or if you really do have to go and it really will be a tough session, maybe the last hour in the residents’ bar isn’t truly essential. Chances are you’ve heard at least some of that before anyway!
As for the dancing, you need to be doing it regularly to be any good at it. So load Footloose up on Netflix every evening and let Kevin Bacon teach you how to do it properly.
Andrew O’Brien is a chartered physiotherapist and the owner of Wannarun Physiotherapy and Running Clinic at Westport Leisure Park. He can be contacted on 083 1593200 or at www.wannarun.ie.