February 12, 2008

Dancing Smart Newsletter: 2/13/08

Hope everyone has a Happy Valentine's Day!

Hi! I'm a musical theatre major at Texas State Univ. I'm 19 years old and have been dancing for about 2 years, ever since I decided to major in Musical Theatre. I've taken mostly ballet, with a few jazz courses here and there. I'm still somewhat of a beginner, yet I have good facility, and the potential to be a great dancer.

Aside from all of this, I'm also very athletic. I weight train 4-5 times a week, working with a trainer.

Earlier today, I went to the gym to weight train. I was going to do squats, so I made sure to stretch my legs sufficiently. I usually do a stretch routine of about 15-20 minutes before getting into any workout. I was all stretched out, and ready to start the squat machine. However, I felt that I needed to "warm up" a little more, and told my trainer that he could go to the bathroom while I ran a lap around the track.

I began to run, and 3 steps into it, I had an improper landing on my left ankle, causing the foot to roll in. I heard a SNAP! And I was unable to walk anymore...

My trainer came and asked me what happened. I told him that I landed wrong and snapped something. He then went and got ice to prevent the swelling in my ankle.

To make a long story short, I went to a physician here at school that checked all around the ankle. She diagnosed me as having injured my peroneal tendon. She said that it didn't seem too dangerous, and that I would have to stay off of it for a while. She also wants me to go see a therapist for recovery.

My question is this: Will I be able to dance professionally (not necessarily in a corps de ballet, but on Broadway.)?
How will this injury affect my ballet? I know that the peroneal tendon is vital in the execution of certain steps/exercises, but do you think that this will have long-term effects?

Thanks in advance, Joseph

There are 2 peroneal muscles, the peroneus longus and peroneus brevis. They run along the outside of the calf with the brevis attaching to the 5th metatarsal, and the longus continuing under the foot to the first metatarsal.

The peroneal muscle is strained when you sprain your ankle. Often a peroneal tendon strain happens exactly as you described where you land on the outside edge of your foot and roll over on it. It is common to hear a pop or a snap with some immediate swelling occurring.

I'm glad to hear the physician feels it was minor, and I'm imagining you are walking with either an elastic bandage to help keep swelling down, or perhaps if it was a more severe strain you may be using an air cast or lace-up ankle brace. Ibuprofen or an anti-inflammatory may have been prescribed as well.

It is a very good idea to see a physical therapist for rehabilitation. You will need to strengthen the peroneal muscle and to work on improving proprioception at the joint. (Balancing exercises).

Balance, even for non-dancers, needs to be addressed regularly. The only way to improve balance is to practicing balancing. The only way to maintain good balance is to continue practicing. If you don't use it – you lose it! (This is a major problem in our elderly population)

Everyone recovers from an injury at a different rate. How long it takes you to return from this injury depends on the severity of the strain. It could be a couple of weeks to a couple of months.

Your first goals are to walk straight ahead without limping or pain, then to have equal strength to the uninjured ankle, as well as equal range of motion as compared to the uninjured ankle. As your balance and strength improves you will challenge it more – but don't be in a hurry!

This injury not only has to keep you from a professional career – it is very possible that because of this injury you will ultimately be stronger and more balanced in your movement. When you are working with the physical therapist or trainer they will evaluate your gait and look for other asymmetries that may have been contributing factors to this injury.
Don't worry, focus on each gain, and keep a strong mental intention about your full recovery. Peroneal strains can be a temporary set-back, but typically not a permanent problem.

On with the dance!


"Education is the key to injury prevention"