I have hit another milestone on my road to recovery after fracturing my ankle on Labor Day 2013: I returned to capoeira class. The significance of that action lies in the fact that a freak accident during a capoeira exercise caused my ankle injury. Several people, all non-capoeiristas, concluded that I would never train capoeira again. My usual retort was, “If I’d broken my ankle taking a shower, would you assume that I’d never take another shower?”
I’d warned two of my capoeira teachers via text the Saturday before that I intended to return to class on Monday, but I would not be running, jumping or sparing. They welcomed me back, assuring me that they would modify my training to get me back into shape.
Thanks to traffic, I arrived about 15 minutes late, which would technically be on time by Brazilian standards. Yet, I only did half of the exercises before going to the side and stretching on my own. My capoeira teacher, who had an achilles injury himself, suggested a stretch with a weight to help open my left hip. At the end of class, we played drums and practiced singing capoeira songs.
The next time I attended capoeira class was Saturday. Fortunately, two other capoeiristas were relatively new and we worked a lot on the ginga, the basic move that looks like a dance step. As a matter of fact, ginga sets up all the kicks and evasive maneuvers to make one’s game more fluid.
Throughout both classes, I could feel the limits of my left ankle being tested and the boundaries of movement expanding further. When I attended a tango presentation later Saturday night, I politely refused to dance since I still could not balance well with all my weight on the left ankle.
The next day, I went to yoga class where I experienced more balance on my left ankle than I ever had since the accident. Although practicing bikram yoga three times a week has contributed to the gains I’ve made in my recovery, I credit capoeira for expanding that recovery. The beauty of cross-training, even when not injured, is that one learns different skills and works different muscles.
As soon as I can consistently maintain good balance with all my weight on the left ankle, then I’m going to return to tango class. Not merely to exercise different muscles, but also to regain cultural practice and sensuality.