My right ankle has limited mobility. Will I be able to pole dance?
I have gained about 40 pounds since my car accident a little over a year ago from not walking for several months and now my limited mobility. I can't do regular exercises. Please let me know if you think I can do this?
Susan from PDFF says...
Hi Debi, thanks for stopping in. It's great to see you're open to finding some activity that you can do!
I'll preface my comments by stating that since I'm not a doctor or a physiotherapist, and since I can't actually see the condition of your ankle, my comments will necessarily be general in nature.
That said, in order to better answer your question, it would be helpful to know a few more details.
For example, you say that you were involved in a car accident. Did you sustain an injury to your ankle as a direct result of the accident? Or are you simply experiencing limited mobility as a result of not being able to walk on the ankle for a period of time after the accident?
If you have sustained an injury, what was the nature of the injury and how well have you recovered from it? In other words, is your current limited mobility a result of a break or other traumatic injury from which you are still recovering, or is it simply lingering stiffness in the muscles and other soft tissues, as a result of having the ankle immobilized for a period of time?
Also, the nature of the mobility issue will be a factor. If you can walk comfortably now, but you don't have good flexion and/or extension in the ankle (ie can you point and flex your foot?) then you may be able to pole dance with modifications. For example, if pointing your foot is difficult, or you're not able to bear weight on your toes, then you may still be able to do many of the moves, but would need to avoid walking on the balls of your feet.
Another issue is stability in your ankle. If you have in fact sustained an injury, the specific nature of the injury may mean that certain muscles are now less active than previously, and you may find that you experience a lack of stability. Again, you may be fine with walking flat-footed, but not up on the balls of your feet if you feel unstable.
Whether your current mobility issues are a direct result of an injury, or simply from being off your foot for a length of time, you will likely benefit from strengthening the affected ankle and working on increasing your stability.
Of course, your doctor or physiotherapist is the person to guide you here, so please check in with them first, before attempting any of these suggestions. Remember, I don't know your history, current condition, or any details of your injury, so I can only give very general guidelines.
In order to increase mobility in an ankle with a limited range of movement, it's necessary to gently stretch the surrounding muscles. This can be done by performing some very simple exercises such as pointing and flexing the foot and making circles with the foot.
As flexibility increases, calf stretches can be added, as well as gentle stretches for the top of the foot. This can be done by sitting near the side edge of a chair and dropping the knee of the affected side towards the floor, placing the top surface of the toes on the floor. The top of the ankle is then gently pressed towards the floor.
To increase stability in the ankle, a Bosu ball or balance board is an excellent tool. It's important to have something to hold onto at first, such as a nearby wall, chair back, etc. A good place to start is to simply stand on the unstable surface while trying to maintain balance. Then progress to more challenging exercises under the direction of a physiotherapist or a fitness instructor who specializes in rehab.
Stability training can also be incorporated into a walking program by doing part of the walk on uneven surfaces. For example, walking on a grassy field or a trail requires more stabilizing muscles than walking on a flat surface like a sidewalk.
I hope these tips help you get back in shape so you can take up pole dancing Debi. If you have any further questions feel free to post another comment here.
And remember, do get guidance from your doctor, physiotherapist, or other rehabilitation specialist before attempting any of the stretches or exercises I've described, and certainly get clearance before starting a pole dancing class.
Hopefully you'll soon be enjoying this fun and exciting form of fitness too!