The After Math of A Broken Ankle

Let me just start this post off with saying that if you haven’t read it already go back and read my post ‘Save the Ankles’ about preventing ankle sprains and breaks.  This post is specifically for what happens after, not how to prevent.  For some information on how to avoid ankle catastrophes that post is your best bet, not this one.

With that out of the way, I decided to dedicate a post to what we as roller derby players can do in the event on an ankle sprain or break. Unsurprisingly, this is because I broke my ankle recently.  Or my foot, or something down there. Not sure on the details, but I know it’s a minor break so I don’t get a cast. Which is stupid, but whatever.  I wasted five minutes of my life on pinterest looking at sweet ass ways I could decorate the cast I was anticipating I would get, all for naught.

In talking about ankle sprains and breaks, please understand that everyone is different.  Some breaks are horrible.  If you’ve read my post on preventing ankle breaks then you’ll know about Cole Izzion, the unfortunate skater who tore her shit up so bad that the x-ray looked like Bob the builder had sex with her ankle.  If that analogy is unclear, I mean that there were screws and hardware galore.  Her foot took forever to heal, and then another eternity to be able to get on skates.  I don’t have hardware in my foot.  There is a huge range of possibilities when it comes to fucking your feet up, so don’t feel frustrated because you have to be out longer than someone else.

The obvious thing to do is follow your doctor’s advice.  This sounds like common sense, but we’re roller derby players whose passion for violent roller skating shenanigans is a lot more influential than common sense. Sadly.  It took me a few ankle sprains to figure out that in the long run I was fucking myself over by coming back too soon or not stepping out when I should have. I was constantly defying doctor’s orders and figuring it’d be ok if I didn’t skate too hard or did no contact.  Skating in circles is a surprisingly taxing activity for our feet, so that was terrible thinking on my part, but you’ll see it over and over again in this sport. If your doctor says to stay off skates for a month, fucking stay off skates for a month.  Don’t cross your fingers and strap on skates after two or three weeks, because then you’ll add three more weeks onto your recovery.  Don’t fuck yourself over, don’t fuck your team over. Take care of yourself.

Another thing to do is to listen to your body.  If you strained your foot then go home and ice it.  A strain that could be fixed by a night’s rest and a few skipped practices is better than a sprain that makes you miss two weeks of practice.  If your foot is feeling tingly and weird because you took a hard fall on your foot, just step out for the rest of the practice.

That all being said there are two things I want to address. I want to talk about how to stay involved in the sport despite an injury and how to help rebuild muscle.  With the disclaimer that I’m not a doctor, so this is not medical advice or instruction.  I’m just a chick with skates and a computer googling shit.

I want to premise the discussion of team involvement by saying that it’s still going to be hard to watch your team skate without you.  Bouting is ultimately our goal. It’s what we practice for, so being forced to sit out of that is going to suck no matter what you do.  I’m sorry for how hard it will be to watch people skate without you.

When I broke my foot my husband was gone for work.  For at least another month.  My beloved derby friend, Knox YaOva, was kind enough to take me to the hospital and the babysit me for the month until my husband got back.  She changed out my ice pack, made me food, took me to my doctor’s appointments, the works.  Because of how awesome she is she also took me to roller derby scrimmages and practices.  For practices I video taped or wrote down drills from visiting trainers.  For scrimmages I was an inside pack ref on crutches (which was every bit as hilariously awkward as it sounds).  What I’m trying to say is that there are ways for you to stay involved in your league.  You can NSO or referee scrimmages.  You can write shit down.  You can record new drills.  You can make bout awards.  You can bench coach.  You can be a timer for drills.  You can ask about the possibility of studying bout footage and reporting to your trainer with insights and trends you’ve noticed.  Contact a board person, a trainer or a coach and ask what you can help with.  Communicate that you want to stay involved in the league and ask for something to do.  They should be able to find something.

Since my doctor did not give me a cast despite my persuasive pinterest argument, I had a removable boot that I was able to take off.  Hence, this bit is applicable to people who have removable casts, like me.  And of course, whatever I say absolutely does not supersede your doctor’s orders.  Don’t start any workout regime without consulting with a doctor first.

When you start working your foot out after a break never ever do impact.  Running and skating are the two last things you’re working up to.  Both are incredibly high impact and will crush whatever progress your foot has made in healing.  Good no-impact workouts include:

-Swimming.  But take it slow, kicking gently with your feet in a controlled manner.  Flopping it around like a teenage boy discovering his penis will not help you.  Swimming is an exercise that easily keeps weight off of your feet and is recommended by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

-At home reps:  There are a couple of types of reps you can do at home that are no impact.  The best one to start with, because it’s completely non-weight bearing, is just sitting on couch and spelling out the alphabet with your toes.  You can repeat the alphabet as many times as you feel comfortable doing.  When you’re able to do that with no discomfort (and you’re doctor gives you the go ahead) then you can start doing exercises that put some weight on your foot.  Just balancing on your foot for as long as you can is one.  Another is standing on your one foot and then lifting your body on the ball of your feet slowly, doing as many reps as you feel comfortable with.

-Cycling: Cycling is an exercise that puts some weight on your foot but is not impact intensive, so while it shouldn’t be the first exercise you do it’s something you should do before running.

Make sure that you include plenty of rest time between workouts so you don’t push yourself too hard too fast.  Make sure you wear supportive, appropriate footwear.

If you’re looking for a cardio workout, you have a ton of options despite your disappointment of a foot.  Here’s a good example:

Hope that helps.  I’m bored of writing, so I’m going to go now.


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