Broken Ankle in Dancers: Tips to Recover Faster
Every physically active person is prone to ankle injuries. The incidence rate is particularly high in athletes because they don’t just rely on their strength and muscles for success but also on their feet which propel their movements. When it comes to ankle care, one crucial group should heed extra care – dancers.
Table of Contents
Ankle Injuries and Dancing
Did you know that 40% of dance injuries are on the foot and ankle? This only proves how repetitive movements and long hours of rehearsals and performances can strain those vulnerable joints that support the entire body when dancing. Immediate treatment for a minor ankle injury may include rest, ice application, compression, and elevation (RICE) and possibly immobilization with the help of orthopedic ankle braces. Preventive techniques include stretching and strengthening of ankles as well as a good dose of rest.
Nevertheless, you’re probably wondering what makes ballet dancers specifically more prone to ankle injuries. Just like any repetitive movement, years of dancing can place undue stress and pressure making bones and their surrounding tissues weakened and strained. Eventually, a weak bone in the ankle can succumb to pressure and snap or crack.
What Should Be Done?
Never make the mistake of putting weight on an injured ankle or trying to walk on it. At the earliest opportunity, you need to visit an orthopedist who will help assess whether the injury is partial, meaning the ankle is partially cracked, or complete, which means the ankle has split in two. The orthopedist will likewise advise if a surgery is necessary.
If the injury isn’t severe, your doctor will place your injured leg in a cast and have you wear it for at least four to eight weeks, depending on the type of fracture you incurred. Pain relievers may be prescribed to help alleviate the pain.
Being on Your Way to Full Recovery
Your journey towards full recovery begins the moment your broken ankle is placed in a cast. Nevertheless, don’t forget to keep your weight off the injured foot until you’re cleared by your orthopedist. Walking after a fractured ankle is possible with the help of mobility aids such as crutches.
Getting back to training and dance rehearsals will not happen soon after you’re cleared of your injury. Although the usual turnaround time takes two to three months, everything will depend on how fast your ankle heals. Hence, regular check-ups are necessary where your orthopedist will get imaging tests done to see if the ankle is healing as it should be.
Your orthopedist, through the help of a nutritionist, may also require a particular diet for you. Since your ankle plays an important role in your profession as a dancer, sticking to the right diet is likewise crucial to your quick recovery.
There is no quick turnaround from an injury. Your body will need time to heal and you should let it run its course. However, you can do some things to reduce your healing time, and as mentioned previously, it starts with your diet.
Infuse your body with energy since healing bones require more energy.
Lysine, an amino acid, is known to increase the amount of calcium absorbed in your bones. Hence, it’s important to incorporate lots of protein in your diet, too.
Antioxidants are known as proactive anti-inflammatory agents. Although inflammation is part and parcel of the bone-healing process, it wouldn’t hurt to nourish your body with antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory nutrients to speed the healing process and defend against free radicals.
Seventy percent of your bones are made up of minerals like calcium, zinc, and phosphorus. Your healing bone will need all the help it can get from available minerals in your body, which is why you need to increase your mineral intake. You can do that by eating calcium-rich foods like milk, kale, sardines, and spinach.
Increasing your vitamin intake is likewise important, particularly Vitamin K, which is known to bind calcium to the bones. Broccoli and green bell peppers are rich in Vitamin K.
You will also have to sign up for physical therapy sessions to help you regain the use of your ankle. Once your physician has given the go-signal, you can start with gradually putting some weight on your injured ankle. Gait training that focuses on ankle and foot movement is also important to help you restore your normal gait. Gentle stretches and range of motion exercises are also part of the therapy to ensure that you can regain the full mobility of your ankle.
A well-designed diet plan and sticking to the recommendations of your orthopedist and physical therapist will help you recover faster from a broken ankle and get you back on the dance floor in fighting form.