Thursday, March 06, 2008

To Alex

In response to a comment from Alex after my 'National Post - February 24, 2008' post:

Her Comment was:

Hi Kyle,I have a question about a previous injury of yours. I know this is a comment on a blog about your knee injuries, but I found on the internet that you have had a bone contusion on your talus. I am a serious ballet dancer and have been told I have the same injury. You are the first athlete (and person) I've found who has gone through this same experience, and I'd love to know how you recovered. Since no one can give me a first hand account of an injury like this, any information you can give me would be great. Thanks!-Alex
4/3/08 12:49 PM

My response:


I suffered a talus bone contusion in March of 2004. I landed short on a vault and I could barely walk off of the mat. The next morning I woke up and my foot was the size of a grapefruit and black and blue.

It was a very frustrating injury and I can honestly say that TIME was the most important factor in healing. I went to physio and did acupuncture and mobility exercises. I iced a thousand times a day. I went to the chiropractor and got ankle adjustments (only when I could walk without pain). I took an anti-inflammatory (Vioxx, but you can't get it anymore). I taped my ankle...I think the most important thing that I did was wait.

I literally didn't do any tumbling, running or landings for more than 2 months. I just started to do basic tumbling at the end of May. I remember one day I got in a panic and I tried to do a backhandspring series and it killed! I was in agony for 5 minutes, laying there with my foot in the air and squishing my face so that I wouldn't cry. Kelly, my coach at the time, told me that I have to be smart, continue being patient and not push it. It won't make me progress, it could actually cause regression. I listened.

I was determined to come back and be in great shape for Athens, but there was a point when I saw the Olympics fading away. When you can't tumble 4 months before the Games, you get a little worried! I guess I am kind of an expert at this now!

I kept my legs strong so that when I was healed I could come back faster and not injure something else. I could walk pain free after a few weeks, but walking down stairs, jumping, going up on my toes all killed. So, I didn't do those things, but did everything I could do that was pain free...not much at the beginning, but slowly I could do toe raises on the stairs (slow and controlled), jumping on a big soft mat, bungee exercises etc.

Mentally, I did a lot of visualization. I pictured myself doing my routines over and over. I pictured them perfectly and would try to feel like I was actually doing them.

At the Olympics I still wasn't fully recovered, but I was recovered and focused enough that it didn't affect me. In fact, it might have been an advantage. I was having small victories every day. I wasn't focused on the pressure and the hype. I had to keep it simple and be happy with the small progression I made each day.

Did you know that I didn't actually stick a single dismount on floor until the one I stuck cold in the Olympic final? I tried, believe me, but I would always take a small step or hop (I actually only added my double twisting double back to my full routine weeks prior). I would freak out once in a while, but I would calm myself down by trusting that when I HAD to do it, I was going to fight like hell.

Our minds are very powerful. Stay positive. Let yourself heal. TIME, my friend, TIME. I know it's not what you want to hear, but it's true. There is no magic shot (not even tequila!) or pill that cures it. I wish there was! Don't push it right now. It will not get better unless you let it rest. Do physio, ice, tape, keep your legs strong, but don't do things that give you that URK feeling (that's the only way I can describe that pain of a bone contusion when you go beyond the point you almost zings through your body and you want to lay there and just hold your ankle in one place so that it does give you that sharp achy feeling again.)

If it makes you feel any better, I don't ever think about that pain anymore. It really does eventually go away! It's hard to believe now, I know, but trust me, it does fade away.

Good Luck, be patient, stay positive and keep everyone who reads this blog updated!



stillalex said...

Thanks so much Kyle for your words of advice. All that you say you did is pretty much what I'm doing now, but it's good to here from someone who's gone through it that the pain does go away eventually.

One thing I'm curious about though is whether or not you were ever on crutches. I've had doctors tell me completely opposite opinions on whether or not to stay off of it. Any opinions from you?

I'm sorry to keep leaving comments on your blog, and I would give you my email, but I don't want to leave my email address where anyone can see it. Also, I'm actually a girl. I'm sorry for the confusion, but I sometimes forget that most people think of Alex as a boy's name. It's no problem though :)

Thanks again


Kyle Shewfelt said...

Sorry about the mix up.

I would recommend a walking boot or crutches if it hurts to walk. The less stress and pressure you put on your ankle the faster it will heal. But if it doesn't hurt to walk then I don't think crutches are necessary.

By the way, how did you hurt it? Did you have a crunched landing?


stillalex said...

It still hurts for me to walk on it, so I am on crutches.

The story of my ankle injury is kind of long one. I'm a student at a resident ballet school, which means I dance 6-8 hours a day, 6 days a week. When I hurt myself the first time, I didn't want to stop my training (which was a stupid decision) so I kept dancing and probably made it worse. I rolled my ankle (with the bottom of my foot facing inward) three times within about a month and a half. During all these instances I was dancing. The first time, I was running across a ballet studio, hit a slick spot on the floor and fell onto my ankle. The second time I was standing en pointe (on my toes in a pointe shoe) and my ankle rolled over again. Then the third time I was en pointe and turning, and my ankle rolled and I landed with all my weight on my rolled ankle. The third time was intensely painful, so I stopped dancing, and returned home for Christmas break. I thought it was just a bad sprain, so I figured if I took the three weeks I was supposed to be home to rest, I'd be able to dance when I returned to school. But I was still in a lot of pain, so multiple x-rays, an MRI, and a couple orthopedist later, the conclusion was a had a bruised talus about a 2.5 degree sprain (on a scale of 3) It's been three months, and the pain has not backed off. So I've been put on crutches to see if it helps.

When you hurt your ankle, did you land on it straight? Or did you roll yours as well? I'm wondering because I haven't been able to do the proper physical therapy to heal the sprain because I've been told the weight-bearing exercises that would help the sprain would aggravate the contusion. Also, did doctors ever "distract" your ankle (basically pulling the foot away and 'out' of the ankle joint) They have done it to my ankle saying that it should make it feel better, but it never has. It always makes it hurts worse for a few hours afterwards, and even though I tell the doctors this, they say it will eventually help.


Taren said...

wow i admire you sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much kyle and my mom i spartly related to you i think im being random i guess that normal for me
im a gymnast too and i just finished my FIRST 3 competitions i got second in first one in the provincial one i got 8th(8th best in manitoba) my coach(kristen pratt-chambers) said something about meeting you or maybe it was someone else...i dunno
i hope become as good as you someday
ps i liked the article about u in the macleans mag
pps what year were you born? i want to do my historica fair project on you but our person or subject either has to be born or before the 1980s
ppps i know would you call them...2nd or third or comething cousins cole and blaire something there mom is heather there my 2nd cousins
i tlak a lot