As many of you know by now, I broke my heel (Calcaneus (Heel Bone) Fractures) early in July.
Initially, my doctor, Dr. Bryan C. Ding told me I would be non-weight bearing for 12 weeks as I had a very severe fracture. This news was depressing. I’m a mover and a doer by nature. I was beside myself, so I did what any Pilates teacher would do. I googled exercises for a broken heel (Calcaneal Fracture Treatment – Exercises, FAQs, Case) and realized that it would be helpful to wiggle my toes and flex and point my ankle as much as I could without weight.
I went through every exercise in my head to locate what could I do within the Pilates system that wouldn’t have me standing. My calf muscle was so disconnected from my heel as soon as this happened that atrophy began right away. I was very concerned about what that would mean at the end of the 12 weeks. Use it or lose it as they say.
It was a godsend to move and stretch what I could. All the other parts of my body were aching and sore not just from the fall that I had taken, but from using crutches and then this peg-like contraption my brother told me about which allowed me to have my hands free in the studio. It’s an amazing alternative to crutches and a walker for non-weight bearing, but honestly, the rest of my body was working hard and was sore. Sadly, none of the aids out there are the best thing for alignment, so it helped that I was in good enough shape to use my device, the iWALK3.0 Crutch.
Less than 2 weeks into my injury, I started using whatever springs I could, the roll back bar, the push through bar, and the arm springs. Leg springs were still too heavy. At this point I was still wearing my boot to protect myself but also thought the boot would give my legs some extra weight, like an ankle weight. I did my arm weights and the small barrel.
Other than some complications from my fall (lumbar radiculopathy), I was feeling as good as one could with the kind of injury that I had. I was teaching 5 hours a day, working out for 30 to 40 minutes and then went home and crashed! Rinse and repeat.
Fast forward another week or so and I was really missing the reformer. My radiating pain had resolved, and I was ready for more. I knew there were some things I could do and was getting around better so was less scared. I was very concerned with the lack of flexion that I had on my left foot due to the break. I just started and I was amazed. I had to take the spring setting down to 1 spring, but I was able to do footwork bearing very nominal weight. I was able to control the movements to get some mobility back.
I saw Dr.Ding again at four weeks and he did some more X-rays and thought that things looked like they were healing nicely. I fessed up about what type of exercises I had been doing and he encouraged me to keep doing them. He told me when we got to six weeks he wanted me to start putting 20% of my weight on my foot. I needed to change to crutches and a walker again to begin weight bearing so there were some adjustments with that. At 9 weeks out I saw the Dr again. Because I had been putting so much weight on my foot I was cleared to try 100% weight bearing and am about a week away from walking without the CAM Boot walker. I am at full springs on the reformer, and I can feel the improvement. When I have swelling and some pain I ease up, but my approach is to try first.
I feel like my recovery time was almost cut down in half thanks to Pilates. But the biggest gift is the ability to find little bits of movement. Initially I was doing 15 – 20 minutes then worked up to 1/2 an hour and now I’m at maybe 55 minutes of Pilates each day. This has really helped my mental state tremendously.
The entire time I kept telling myself about Pilates roots in the internment camp on the Isle of Man where Mr. Pilates, Joseph Pilates trained the other detainees and worked on the rehabilitation of seriously wounded veterans. You can read about his method in his books.
He worked whatever they could work and that is always a good idea. Listen to your body first and foremost and then whatever you can move, you move. That is what I did and continue to do. We were in the middle of summer in NY so I added some pool exercises to the mix. They were all Pilates based for me I was just taking my Pilates workout to the pool, but I found it easier to stand and walk in the pool without putting a lot of weight on my foot.
So now I have two workouts a day one that’s on the apparatus and one that’s in the water. I should point out that I am generally a person who likes to look at the water, not necessarily go in it, so the fact that I am doing it daily is because it makes me feel better.
Finally, I have even attempted the elliptical and treadmill, but it might be too soon for that. I just try to think of things that help me support my body weight enough to weight shift as I work out. A walk through Target with a cart was great exercise.
I share all of this because sometimes people experience an injury and think they are out of the game for the entire length of that injury. I want to encourage you to think about it differently. Recognize that maybe you can’t come to your regular class but certainly when you’re injured and feeling a little sorry for yourself there’s no better time to treat yourself to some private sessions and move the parts of your body that you can move. We all find relief in movement because movement heals and for me, Pilates heals. It’s a balm for my soul and my body. I’m grateful every day that I have Pilates in my life to help me through this unfortunate temporary situation.
Let us help you bounce back from an injury too.