Whether you sprint down soccer fields, throw that first pitch of the game, jog across the basketball courts or leap off into the wings on stage, you know, probably first-hand, what injuries are like and how they are totally not fun. Injuries can come in all different shapes, sizes, and levels of severity. A few of the most common sports injuries are:
- Sprains and strains
- Knee injuries
- Swollen muscles
- Achilles tendon injuries
- Pain along the shin bone
- Rotator cuff injuries
United States National Library of Medicine
Although, something to keep in mind is that injuries do not always have to make a sudden appearance, causing extreme pain in one hasty muscular tear. Sometimes they are a gradual buildup, never reaching a climax, but only to put the patient in such pain that he/she cannot handle it any longer. That is exactly what my injury was like.
Since I was about 12 or 13 years old, I remember having discomfort at the top of my right ankle joint every time I would dance, specifically every time I would plié. (Plié (plee-AY) – A bending of the knee or knees.) Until I was 16 years old, every physical therapist had said it was tendonitis. (Tendonitis – A condition in which the tissue connecting muscle to bone becomes inflamed.) I had been doing plenty of exercises to try and strengthen my ankle again; ice and heat, Therabands, resting the foot. I also spent valuable ballet class time in the physical therapist’s office while he yanked and cracked my ankle repeatedly. When nothing seemed to be doing the trick, my family and I had finally decided to see a doctor in New York City who was considered to be “the man who wrote the medical textbooks”; he was the best.
That was the day I was diagnosed with having a bone spur at the top of my right ankle joint. (Bone spur – tiny pointed outgrowth of a bone.) This bone spur had created a severe impingement in my ankle, causing my plié on my right leg to be half as deep as my plié on my left leg. I needed to have arthroscopic surgery as soon as possible.
From January 2013 to March 2013, I stopped dancing in order to recover from the surgery and build up the strength in my ankle to begin dancing again. Taking off from dance was one of the worst and best things for me at that time, but I will admit that by the end of my recovery period I missed dancing A LOT.
You may be thinking that the injury or the surgery was the hardest part of this situation. It may be for some, but for me, it was the period after my ankle had almost fully healed and I needed to get back into the ballet studio.
‘First day back from a long-term injury’ Tips:
1. Make sure you are physically and mentally prepared to get back into the game. The first day back was the hardest for me, but when you are ready, you can get through it! If I can, you can!
2. Do not be afraid. Caution is okay, but avoid being overly cautious.
3. If you experience any severe pain, specifically at the location of your injury, stop your activity immediately and seek medical attention.
4. Taking that first class back is a part of the recovery process so do not expect to come back from your injury instantly “new and improved”. It will take time. Do not let yourself become discouraged.
5. Talk to the teacher or coach about your injury/surgery/recovery. Make sure they are very well informed of your condition.
6. Lastly, listen to your body. Even if it has been months since your recovery period…
Many dancers say that “their injury was the best thing that ever happened to them”. I would agree because it teaches us that our bodies are precious and fragile, especially as pre-professional or professional athletes making a career out of a sport. I cannot stress enough that listening to your body is the best thing you can do for yourself, injured or not.
*If you are suffering/have suffered from a sports injury, feel free to share your story. If you have any questions regarding injuries, injury prevention, or helpful remedies during recovery, please do not hesitate to ask.