It’s been 8 weeks and 3 days since I broke my foot, and tomorrow, I will start ballet again.
Here’s how it all happened:
1. I landed on the side of my foot during grand allegro on Thursday, July 18th. It was my first day back to class after my summer intensive had ended. I clearly heard a crack in my foot and felt a lot of pain, so I went to MedExpress, where I was x-rayed and informed that I had a spiral fracture in my fifth metatarsal. I was told 4-6 weeks to be healed (*not to be ballet ready of course). The doctor put me in a splint, and I used crutches over the weekend.
2. On Monday, July 22, I saw an orthopedist. Upon examining the x-rays, he gave me more information about my fracture, called the “dancer’s fracture.” He then gave me a walking boot. I stayed in the walking boot for four weeks, staying in it all the time, including sleeping.
3. On Monday, August 5, I started to see a physical therapist/pilates instructor, who told me that likely, the cause of my fracture was actually weakness in my hips. So we worked on strengthening them with a couple exercises involving Therabands, the most important of which was called “clams.” I had been seeing this instructor for one-two times a week.
4. On Monday, August 19, I had my second appointment with the orthopedist. After taking another x-ray, he seemed very encouraged by how fast my fracture was healing. He decided to take me out of the boot and transition me into wearing sneakers with a carbon fiber plate that went under the insole of my shoe.
4. On Tuesday, September 3, I started to work with another pilates instructor at the same studio, who focused more on conditioning to keep me in shape. I have been seeing this instructor twice a week for hour-long sessions.
5. On Monday, September 9, I saw the orthopedist again. Upon looking at the new x-ray he remarked, “Was there even a fracture here?”. He told me I should transition out of the carbon fiber plate and start walking barefoot around the house. He gave me a slip for PT, and told me that personally, he thought I would be ready in time for Nutcracker. He gave me his own timeline for recovery: 2 weeks of barre (no releve), 2 weeks of barre (with releve), then to start center and pointe as I felt comfortable. The biggest advice he gave me was to be honest about my pain and to let pain be my guide as to how much I can do.
6. Immediately, I spoke with my original physical therapist/pilates instructor, and she thought that I should go to a PT who specialized in water therapy so I could jump in the water, weightlessly. She also thought that I should work with another pilates instructor who used to to ballet from her studio (BEFORE I started taking barre).
7. The next day, Tuesday, September 10, I saw the water physical therapist. As more of a manual therapist, he first gave me heat stim, then a deep tissue massage to break up scar tissue (OUCH!), and watched me walk on demi-pointe. He was confident that I would be back on my toes in no time, maybe even by the end of the month. After, he iced my foot, using a styrofoam cup that was frozen, peeling off the layers of the styrofoam as he went. This works great because it gets really deep into the tissue.
8. After a couple more sessions of PT and pilates, I went to work with the dancer/pilates instructor early on Saturday, September 14th. After doing a few barre exercises, she noted that because of my break, I was compensating by keeping weight off of the outside of my foot. Some key things I need to focus on are keeping the tendon on the back of my foot/ankle in a straight line, neither rolling in nor out. I need to keep equal weight on all of my toes. A good way to do this is to pull up my arch, thinking of the bottom of my foot like a suction cup, keeping my big toes down. If I lift from my hip and think of pulling up and outwards from my quad, it helps a lot. During my first two weeks of no releve, she suggested that I practice by keeping weight on the ball of my foot and slightly lifting my heel to work the same muscles. On releve in parallel, I have to watch that my ankles are totally straight. Lastly, she gave me some theraband exercises to do, including flexing and pointing, sickling in, and winging outwards.
So here I am, ready to start barre tomorrow. Who knew that recovering could keep me so busy? I’m really going to focus on listening to my body and thinking about my alignment more than ever. I’ll keep up with PT for another week or two, and will continue pilates for as long as I can, because it really can’t hurt to be too strong or too conscious of my body and what it is saying.