Practical Bodywork Blog

Touchy Topic Tuesday: I Am Embarrassed To Tell You This, But…

…I’m wearing an ankle brace.

My new style.

My new style.

Turns out my crippled ankle wasn’t psychosomatic after all. According to my fabulous new podiatrist, I have posterior tibial tendon dysfunction, caused by the extra bone in my flat, flat foot torquing my gait and stretching the tendon until it is practically shredded. He says if I don’t wear this brace, I’m a candidate for surgical reconstruction of my entire ankle joint when the tendon gives way completely.

It took me awhile to assimilate this information.

Because it’s a lot easier to be the big, strong person who helps OTHER people with their frustrating pain and mobility problems. It is terrifying to admit that I don’t have all the answers, that I can’t fix everything, that most mornings I have a hard time negotiating my way downstairs, because my ankle won’t flex properly. It is hard to ask for help.

On the other hand, it’s great to be running up and down stairs again. A little support in the right place makes all the difference.

And knowing what I know about alignment, I am kicking myself for not recognizing the obvious. I was so focused on how the rest of my body was affecting my ankle, I failed to consider the possibility that the ankle was, in fact, the source of the problem. It’s a wonder my knee and hip and back aren’t completely wrecked; for this, I have yoga and foam rolling to thank.

The moment that mortified me the most was when my podiatrist said EXACTLY THE SAME THING to me that I say to my own clients.  “You need to take care of this now, so you’ll be massaging people for longer.” Ouch. I can spend my life telling people that self-care is not a luxury, but am I walking my talk?

It seems to me that the people who give the most to others are often the least willing to give to themselves. Are you one of them? Think about how many people are depending on you, at your job, in your family, in your relationships. If something happened to you–like, say, you stopped being able to climb stairs, or walk more than 30 feet, or started getting regular migraines, or collapsed under intolerable strain–how would this affect them? How does it affect them when you’re exhausted, anxious and in pain? Are you more likely to become impatient, angry or detached?

And if a child of yours were forced to endure the same level of pain, stress and fatigue you put yourself through on a daily basis, would this be okay with you?

Well, then.

2 Comments

  1. Alfonso Perez
    December 31, 2013

    Hey!

    First of all, thanks for your post!! I was looking for treatments for flat foot people and stumbled upon your blog, I have a question for you. After doing further research on my flat foot dysfunction I have found all different kinds of treatments and as curious how the ankle brace was working for you? I mean is it a temporary fix or is it suppose to permanently fix the misalignment in your ankle?

    Thanks,
    Alfonso

  2. Stephanie Jackson
    December 31, 2013

    Hey Alfonso! Thanks for commenting.

    The ankle brace is holding my ankle in alignment so that the tendon can heal, which it is doing–very, very slowly. That’s the nature of tendons. It is not fixing my flat feet. If your posterior tibial tendon is not inflamed, an ankle brace won’t do much for you. Custom orthotics are what you need. I’ve got some of those, and they help a lot.

    Also, I’m working with a personal trainer, and working out WITH the ankle brace on. I’m hoping this will strengthen the rest of my body enough, with the ankle in alignment, that it will help to support the tendon and keep it from getting inflamed again when it finally heals.

    As of this writing, three and a half months after starting to wear the brace, I’m in a lot less pain, but the tendon hasn’t healed completely and I can’t do much without the brace on. I am hoping to be able to discard it eventually, but I don’t know if or when this will happen.