[Pain, pain, go away. Come again ... never]
I remember being in ballet class and standing in the back of the room. The teacher was giving us our petite allegro combination and I was marking it to aid in my absorption on the steps. I did a small hop on my left foot and felt a moderate pain on the top of my left foot.
The pain came on anytime I stepped on my left foot. I walked up to the instructor and she told to go speak with the program director who was teaching in a class nearby. “You need to go to the hospital,” was her response when I explained the incident.
I drove myself home hoping to find my mom. The house was empty and I burst into tears. I felt helpless. I called my best friend who came rushing over to accompany me to the hospital. Thank goodness for friends.
At the hospital, I learned that I had a stress fracture. They put me in a cast to be kept on for ~2 months. I was not referred to physical therapy. In the cast, I was able to teach dance. I figured out how to pirouette to the right with my weight on the heel of the cast. This was important to me because turning was my favorite thing to do in ballet.
Two weeks into my recovery, my left toes started to go numb. I went to the doctor and he removed the cast. He did not provide any recovery recommendations or education on my injury. He did not refer me to a physical therapist. He just sent me home.
For years, I thought my pain was permanent. I danced through it thinking it was something to get used to. Because of the obstacle of pain, I thought I could never dance on pointe again ... and I didn’t.
I was never told that stress fractures take a long time to heal. I was never told to stay away from dance to let the small break in my bone fuse together. I was never told what would shorten or lengthen the time needed to heal. I never worked with a physical therapist to maintain or gain strength in other parts of my body to aid in my recovery. I never got the guidance and medical assistance from a physical therapist.
As a performer, if you ever get injured don’t settle with minimal recovery recommendations. If your pain is with movement, it is highly likely you need a physical therapist. We are here to make your return to the stage safe and time efficient.
Unfortunately, what I experienced is a common story amongst performers. Let’s end these common stories now. I’m here to empower you, the performer, to put yourself first and ask to see a physical therapist. Seeing a health professional who specializes in getting you back to the stage healthfully is your right. You deserve a long, healthy career.
Physical therapy is your solution.