Saturday, March 5, 2016

Handling My First Real Foot Injury That Took Me Out of Ballet for Weeks

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Hi everyone!!!

Here is an update on my injury. At the end of the blog is a bonus video about it. Thanks for following the journey!

Pre-injury - No warning signs =( Shoes by Gaynor Minden 

Two weeks before our Ellison Ballet winter showcase in December (2015) my foot started bothering me. I came into class on a Friday morning and had pain in my left foot while pointing. This pain came out of feet were fine the day before, I just had some achilles soreness.  Achilles pain has been a common issue in the past for me. On the day before, they were just sore/stiff, nothing major.  I told one of my teachers, Ms. Forrest, about the pain and I took it easy through class.  I kept my foot flexed for most of the time.  I pushed it through rehearsals for one of my pieces, but it was getting worse.  I wasn't able to rehearse Swan Lake pas de trios that day because I didn't want it to get worse. There are toe hops in the beginning of the Swan Lake variation and that is when the pain was worse. =(

Where the pain was.

I rested it over the weekend by icing and staying off of it. I also rolled out and massaged my calf a lot. On Monday I came in and it was still pretty painful. Basically I kept dancing but I wasn't using my left foot to the fullest. I kept it flexed most of the time and didn't do demi pointe.  I tried going on pointe but at the time that was painful. It just felt like it was jamming together.  I told Ms. Forrest about how it was doing and she said maybe I shouldn't do pointe.  I was really frustrated but I didn't want my foot to get worse.

Me and Miss Forrest a couple of summers ago. I trust everything she says!

I talked with Mr. Ellison before pas de trios rehearsal. I told him more in depth about where the pain was and he also asked if I was getting treatment.  I told him I scheduled an appointment at this acupuncture place that my friend Gillian goes to.  I told the people at acupuncture where the pain was.  They put needles around the area that had pain and some along my calf and one near my knee. It did't hurt when they put the needles in, but I felt a slight pinch.  They put a heater light above my foot and left the needles in for thirty minuets.  My foot kind of felt like it was about to fall asleep! Also don't move the area with needles in it during acupuncture because that will pinch a bit.

Acupuncture. If you look closely you can see the needles.

Later in the week I went to Physical Therapy. They come to our studio once a week. It helped me sooo much! She basically loosened up my calves and did a few other exercises. She told me I had impingement in the back of my ankle, which is when the bones pinch the tendons right! (kidding!) The next day I went to a deep tissue massage therapist. His name is Robert and he is amazing and helped me a lot! He looked at the bigger picture and thought it was more FHL related and an issue with my spiral line. Flexor Hallucis Longus (FHL) tendinitis is an overuse injury to the FHL tendon which facilitates the up and down movement of the foot. Spiral line forms distinct spirals of deep myofascial connections looping around the legs and torso. He worked on some trigger points and gave me some exercises to do my self.

Example of the Spiral Line from V Bodies Fitness

On Friday I started taking class again after taking Wednesday and Thursday off. It felt slightly better, but it was still there! Rawr!! I rested it over the weekend and it actually felt really great!!! I was excited to get back into things again on Monday. Basically, it would get better with rest and then come back the more I was dancing.

Watching rehearsals can be torture! Old pic of me in the SDB studios. 

I still wasn't able to rehearse Swan Lake pas de trios...this was so frustrating. Mr Ellison still wanted to see me dance it, but I just was not able to rehearse it. The toe hops were what hurt the most. It was just how things worked out. I would have still been able to perform it if I was able to rehearse it during tech rehearsals. Unfortunately that was not the case...the injury just held me back from this. I pushed through tech week, even thought my foot felt pretty much worse after each rehearsal. It was danceable but obviously I did not want to be in pain. I was lucky enough to be able to perform my other pieces.

I did all of the first cast run through on pointe and I did the second cast run though on flat. I could tell my foot was getting slightly worse. I still wanted to perform, so I didn't want to push it too much.
Basically I was able to perform Waltz of the Flowers (An 8 minute piece) and Napoli, also really long. Unfortunately I was unable to perform pas de trios, I was just not able to rehearse it due to the injury. I was EXTREMELY upset about this. I was so so so excited to be performing it, that piece just gave me so much excitement!!! I have been wanting to train year round at Ellison ballet since I was first invited at age 13 and my dream has been to perform in the winter showcase. Even writing about this now and thinking back to not being able to perform it makes me sad, but I need to stay positive and not dwell on what happened.

A pic I sent to my mom from tech week. =(

Even though there were some big ups and downs through showcase and it was emotional, I thought we performed our pieces very well! I am happy with how I performed!!

In a way this happened at a somewhat good time. Obviously I wish it wasn't during showcase, but at least we had a two week break right after the performances. When I went home I rested for those two weeks. I also went to the doctor to get some x-rays just to be sure. He told me I had posterior impingement in my ankle and that I should rest it for 3-4 weeks and to probably go in a boot. That's exactly what I did...I stayed off of it for 4 weeks and I eventually got a boot.

Once I went back to the city I would only have to watch class for two weeks. Even though it was only two weeks it felt like a really long time!!! Watching class gave me a different perspective on things. Ms. Forrest said this was sort of a blessing in disguise. I was able two see how Ms. Forrest would want the corrections to be applied and how people were absorbing them. Also I would write down all of the corrections in my notebook throughout class. I had a big portion of my notebook filled up with so much information just from watching classes.

When I was back in the city I went to go see Robert again. I told him what was going on and what the doctor had said. He was a little skeptical that it was true posterior impingement. He thought the FHL tendon was getting more caught since it was not at the very back of my ankle.  He honestly was not too worried about it. He said if we continue to fix the spiral line issue and releasing the quads it should really help. He also said that if it was to re occur that it wouldn't be something where I would have to stop again!!! I was really excited to hear this.

We can't help but be obsessed with our feet. Take care of them!

When I first went back to class I took everything really slow. I did a baby barre, I didn't even do relevé on one foot or any center work.  The second week I started feeling some of the strength coming back, but I still did not do relevé on one foot, I kept it mainly on two feet.  I would stay in the back for center and work on upper body. I started doing relevé on one foot at about the third week. I didn't really feel any pain where it originally was. I felt some soreness on the top of my ankle and some slight soreness/pinching on the outside back of my ankle. I think this was just getting back into things and maybe compensating a bit. I believe it was about the fourth week I started jumping! It felt amazing!!! Again, I just started out with small jumps.

Warming up a few weeks ago. I started back slow with just barre. 

By February 27th I was pretty much doing all of technique class. Some jumps off of one foot still feel a bit strange and I haven't done too much grande allegro on that foot yet.  I also just started pointe after 9 weeks of not doing any!! This seemed like forever and I was actually really upset about this. I felt like I should have maybe gotten back to it sooner...but honestly injuries are not something you want to mess with. I would rather ease back into everything and make sure its still feeling okay then to have it come back!!! You want to avoid creating a recurring injury at all costs.

Pointe felt very stiff the first day I was back. It was like I had a brick for a foot haha. I just did really slow releves in first at the barre. Each day I did pointe my foot started to get more used to it. I have been back on pointe for about two weeks now. I am now starting to feel more comfortable at pointe again. I try some things at the barre on one foot, but I mainly stick to two feet.

At barre back before life in the city. Me in front with Brittany. 

I CAN NOT WAIT to be back into everything! Some weeks I have been more down then others. I think it would just hit me from standing in the back not being able to take partnering class. It still does a little bit, but I still just try and think that I will be back soon enough!!

Everything seems to be going well so far!!! I will keep you updated on my progress!

PS... scroll down for the video of me talking about this and take care of those feet!! Ice ice ice! And massage out those calves with your foam roller and massage sticks (buy on amazon below).

Grace, Brittany, me

Elevation is good =)

Enjoy the bonus video below and subscribe to my youtube channel at MyDanceTv

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