When you experience a foot injury as a movement teacher and self proclaimed foot nerd, you feel a little silly and frankly humbled. Thankfully my injury was not serious in the way that called for medical intervention. However, it was an injury propelled by ego and a disconnect from myself in the name of progress and “just do what you gotta do” mentality. Put simply, this injury was preventable but I did what many do and did not listen to both my inner coach and body.
As someone who is not striving to live a porcelain life, bumps, bruises, and even injuries can happen. Even as frustrating as they can be, they are a part of living and exploring our environment and life. So what can we learn from an injury, especially from one that requires you change the way you move or puts a hard stop on movement all together? Lots actually.
My injury was one of overuse. I could physically feel it coming but as a teacher of movement and with a calendar full of foot health and awareness workshops on the calendar I did not want to slow down, I told myself I could not slow down. Well, often when the body is trying to tell us to slow down, eventually it will make us stop. And, that is exactly what happened. I pushed myself further than I should and after one particularly heavy foot stomping I felt the hard stop. The pain radiated through the bottom of my foot, sending spikes of pain with each step. I had been dealing with tender and tight tissue around the big toe of my left foot. That one heavy foot fall was the turning point in my injury, taking it from a little voice in the back of my head telling me to put a little extra attention here to no longer being able to put weight on that area. This injury left me unable to extend through the big or even put weight onto the joint forcing me to limp or walk on the outer blade of my foot if I needed to get around.
Often when we sustain an injury that leaves a part of our body immobilized we have to shift what is doing the moving in our body, or at least, other parts of our body have to do double duty to keep us moving. Or, we simply just stop moving. That was not an option given what I do for a living. It was also not an option because I knew just propping the foot up and refusing all movement until I healed was also not the answer either. I had to find the balance between giving my injury what it needed to heal and keeping the train of life and work moving.
The first step was to acknowledge that I did need to slow down in some respects and more importantly that I needed to listen to my body, as I often tell my clients to do. So I did just that. I let myself feel the injury, feel what needed to happen in my body to help support this important area that now needed help. I created a plan for my recovery, knowing that staying connected to what my body needs was essential.
For me taping, elevation, and ice helped to reduce the swelling and allow rest in that area. During times of movement, in addition to taping, I immobilized the area by wearing a stiffer shoe. Good thing I kept a few of those around. I adjusted class plans. I performed intentional myofascial work on the bottom of the foot with a roll out ball and tissue release.
When you love to move, walk multiple miles a day, and teach movement, being rather immobilized can be very frustrating. It was a great reminder for me though that there are so many ways to keep the body moving. It sparked creativity as I found new ways to continue to move even if I couldn’t really use my left foot. For me, not moving was not an option. I also knew that not moving would just create more issues. That is not to say that the adjustments in my movement patterns did not create new areas that needed attention due to the added stress.
Staying flexible in my recovery and movement strategy helped me to recover safely. So what did I learn from this injury?
To listen and acknowledge what my body is telling me.
Find new ways to move while not losing passion or gaining fear of the movements that currently cause pain.
It reinforced the importance of being able to move the body in a variety of ways.
It created an even deeper appreciation and connection to the importance of the feet
Thankfully, after weeks of recovery I was able to teach my workshop on foot health with a healthy foot. Injury can happen. While it can be a frustrating thing, by listening to ourselves, creating a plan (whether that is your own plan or a doctors), staying flexible, and keeping a positive mindset we can come out on the other side.