By Debra Stroiney
I felt this week was not as exciting of a show for some reason. I don’t know what it was - maybe the whole show had a down vibe due to Misty May’s injury. But there were some great performances. The stars this season are really learning well.
Misty's injury was very surprising to me; yet, at the same time, I wasn’t surprised. I recently earned a Masters Degree in Exercise Science. When I first heard that Misty was going to be participating in Dancing With The Stars, I was surprised since she was just coming back from the Olympics. In fact, Misty started training for the show 2 days after she arrived back from China, which was a week later than the other stars on the show. When seeing how she injured herself, I was even more surprised since it was not on a trick but on a relatively basic Charleston type move.
I had a couple of theories going through my head so I decided to get up and try it myself. First, I wondered if her choice of footwear had something to do with her injury. Misty had been wearing sneakers, which might have caused more stretch to get her foot all the way to the floor. I tried what she had been doing in the heels I was wearing; in heels, my foot had less time and distance to travel to the floor. There was much more of a stretching feeling in my leg with flat shoes on then when I wore heels. I tried the move with a straight leg; this also caused more of a stretch as opposed to being soft in the knees.
The other theory that I had going through my head had to with her training for the Olympics, participating in the competition, and immediately starting to learn ballroom dancing. I did a little research and found this information about Achilles tendons on the Web MD site:
“Achilles tendon problems are most often caused by overuse or repeated movements. These movements can happen during sports, work, or other activities. For example, if you do a lot of pushing off or stop-and-go motions when you play sports, you can get microtears in the tendon. Microtears can also happen with a change in how long, hard, or often you exercise. Microtears in the tendon may not be able to heal quickly or completely. Being out of shape or not warming up before exercising may also cause Achilles tendon problems. So can shoes with poor arch supports or rigid heels. An Achilles rupture is most often caused by a sudden, forceful motion that stresses the calf muscle. This can happen during an intense athletic activity or even during simple running or jumping. Middle-aged adults are especially likely to get this kind of injury.
A rupture most often occurs in sports such as basketball, racket sports (including tennis), soccer, and softball. A tendon already weakened by overstretching, inflammation, or small tears is more likely to rupture.”
So, you can see that there is a good possibility that her Achilles tendon could have been hurt by constant use due to the Olympics or from the intensive dance training she had been receiving over the past month. Learning to dance, performing at a high level (in heels), and participating in a sport that you are not familiar with always has risk for injuries. All of these could have contributed to her injury. Regardless, I am sad to see her go. I would have liked to see how her athletic background would have faired in this competition since many athletes have done well on the show.
There has been a lot of discussion as to whether ballroom dancing is a sport and if it should be considered an Olympic event. Yes, it is a sport and it must be treated like one. Before or after your lessons, try to get in some stretches and if you are not sure what to stretch - ask someone. If you are doing any tricks or lifts in your dancing, definitely take the time to stretch and warm up prior to a lesson. And if you are still thinking of starting ballroom dance or have already done so, please don’t be worried about hurting yourself. Just be aware of your body and how it feels.
Talking of athletes on the show...I wanted to say that Maurice and Cheryl did a great job with their Jive. I feel that here we can make a connection between Maurice’s history as a runner and as a sprinter. Sprinters have to learn to move their legs very quickly and develop muscle fibers that do this. Also, their bodies adapt to moving that quickly, allowing them to work more efficiently. In dancing, that means they have more time to devote to expression, lines, and musicality. I will also compliment Cheryl’s choreography. It really suited Maurice and played to his strengths while looking like they were having a great time together.
I would like to stress again, yes again, that these 2 dances are another 2 difficult ones! OK...I know...when have there been any easy ones? But here’s the difference: the contestants could have danced a Swing instead of a Jive. Debra, you may ask, what is the difference? The difference is the speed, timing and some of the technique involved. Swing is considered an American Style dance. The music is slower and the movements are more like a pendulum with swinging of the hips. In Jive, the movement has a higher lift of the knees and the speed is much faster. So why not teach the Swing instead of the Jive? Well, it wouldn’t be as exciting, right? I can say the same for the Viennese Waltz compared to a Waltz. Both are 3-3 timing, but the Viennese Waltz is danced at a much faster speed and includes harder steps to match that speed. Why not just do a Waltz? Regardless, I am impressed because many of the contestants did a fantastic job with these dances. Even Cloris…because no 82-year-old should be made to do a proper Jive. She put on a show that was hysterically funny and appropriate for her abilities. And Corky played right along with it! This is why she is getting the audience votes. Keep voting! What if she makes it to the finals!