Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin

Five-Week Footdate

Well friends, it has officially been one month since my diagnosis. This morning I had my follow-up appointment at Harkness, and while the doctor wasn't super jazzed that I wasn't still wearing my surgical shoe, he did delare me "clinically healed." He had me march in place flat footed, then on my heels, then on my toes, before moving my foot around quite a bit - crunching my toes and pushing on them, picking my toes upward and pushing on them, torquing it left and right. He also pushed on my second and third metatarsal bones. I did have some sensitivity on the second metatarsal where the fracture was, as well as pain on the third met to which he casually said, "well maybe you have a stress fracture there too." WHAT! But he quickly said, "It's fine, the treatment would be the same anyway" and basically told me to rest one more week before heading in for PT.

That would take me to right about the six week mark. Also important to note - if you let your stress fracture go too long before ceasing activity, it takes way longer to heal.

The best part is he said, "Don't come back to see me unless your pain spikes." And then gave me clearance to gradually resume normal activity in the next couple weeks.

The dance fitness therapist stayed with me afterward to answer some of my other questions about how to get back into activity. Specifically, she said I should start scrunching a towel with my toes. In many of the resources I've been reading, which are targeted toward runners, they recommend increasing activity by no more than 10% every week. In particular, many people point to this 6-week stress fracture recovery plan.  At my appointment, she said that dance recovery is of course a bit different from runners. But the basic principle to follow is to either increase intensity of activity every week or else length of time.

In other words, if you're a ballet dancer, - start out with a beginner class and just start with the barre portion. Then the following week go to an advanced class and just do barre. The next week add the adagio pieces, then floor work and finally basic jumping. The key is to stay in tune with your foot. Pain = bad. Localized pain = particularly bad. Soreness or stress is okay as long as it isn't localized on the bone, since the muscles and tendons need to readjust to movement.

She also recommended that I start dancing totally flat, and then gradually move to a very low heel, then increase height slowly. She also told me to make sure to take my ballroom shoes with me to PT (my first appointment is December 2) so that the PT could work with me on exercises to do while actually wearing them - particularly on exercises to strengthen the hip and knee.

Quickstep is the dance I am most worried about, since it is the dance which was causing me the most pain before my initial diagnosis. For this, she recommended using ballet classes, which are extremely structured, to ease me back into being able to handle the forces that jumping places on the bones and feet - it can be up to three times one's body weight.

Finally, she said that I should make sure to cycle and swim to keep my cardiovascular system healthy, particularly now that I have a new nutrition plan (this post is coming soon, I swear). That way, once my muscles and bones are strong enough, I won't be dying from the exertion when I try to jump.

As for the timeline, she said it totally depends. Of course, it takes longer to get back up to 25 hours a week than it does to get back to 4 hours a week. But she seemed to think I could be worked up to a normal level of activity by mid-January. It looks like I'll be watching from the sidelines in the next couple of months to cheer on my friends!

The journey is far from over, but at this point I'll be transitioning from healing to rehab!
Tags: ballroom, metatarsal, stress fracture
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