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3 strikes and you’re not working right

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A couple of years ago I either heard or read a study that talked about how people with “bad ankles” don’t have flawed ankle joints, they have poor balance. It made sense to me: If you improve your balance, you’re improving overall stability… so i worked harder at my yoga balance poses. And I stopped turning my ankles nearly so much. I’ve had two bad sprains in 15 years, and the number of “dropped” ankles (as I think of them — where I roll out onto the side of my foot and tweak my ankle without an official sprain) dropped radically. Of course, in the intervening years I’ve learned that I do, in fact, have “bad ankles”, just like I have bad everything-else-thats-a-joint. Stretchy collagen for the win! Or something. But staying strong and balanced is the core of how I keep myself healthy, stretchy joints or no stretchy joints, so whatever.

Then in July I dropped a kitchen knife and slashed open my ankle, right across the top. 5 stitches, and damage to the tendon that runs to the big toe. My foot swelled monstrously when I walked any distance for about 2 months, and my toe was feeble and not very agile for three. I’d lift my big toe independently of the other toes, and on the left, it’d pop up. On the right, it’d… do this thing where the back joint lifted but the first knuckle (so to speak) just hung there. Very sad looking. It’s been four months now, and I can still see the difference in how my foot moves when I wiggle everything about. My right big toe is not at 100%. (Data point 1.) But it’s closer, and there’s no pain or swelling when I walk, run, or do general exercise-y things.

But if my big toe is clearly not at 100%, neither is my ankle. Yesterday, to combat what I flippantly refer to as my leg cancer (really just a recalcitrant strained hamspring that I want to cut out with a dagger so it will stop hurting), I did an hour of yoga instead of the treadmill or a strength workout. And holy wow, could I tell how bad my right ankle is right now. I had to do a thousand little compensations with my foot muscles and my lower leg to hold even the easiest balance poses. On the left, easy. On the right… not so much. And painful, too — I stopped several holds in poses that were causing my right foot and ankle to ache in a not-good way. (Data point 2.)

And this morning, walking into the co-op to buy emergency dark chocolate (this is a thing. it exists in my world.) I dropped my right ankle. Unfortunately, I’m wearing Dansko clogs, so it was a sizeable drop. Fortunately, I caught myself, didn’t fall, and didn’t sprain it. But… Data point 3.

Three strikes says that I guess I know where my ankle rehab needs to go next. Back to strength and balance, baby.

Also, worst dropped knife EVER.

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