My “New Foot,” 2011 Season, and the Story of the Vanishing Tendon

Imagine running your fastest and jumping off one foot as high as you can… Not so difficult to imagine.  Maybe even fun… Now imagine running your fastest and trying to jump off one foot again, except this time when you go to jump you invert your ankle and it smacks the ground….

 

That is what happened to me earlier this year. It resulted in a fracture, a torn ATFL and an evulsion.  But most concerning, I also ruptured my posterior tibialis tendon… that tendon that connects your inside ankle bone to the arch of your foot.  The job of this tendon is to invert and flex your foot.  It literally holds your foot in its nice position you are accustomed to.  When the posterior tendon ruptures your arch collapses and usually requires surgery. 

Posterior tibialis tendon and
collapsed arch

 

I’ve ruptured mine and by only the finger of God has my foot managed to keep its form and I am miraculously able to run, jump and everything else off of it.  It’s an injury that’s gathered some amazing medical minds together.  I am an anomaly, further complicated by the fact that I am an elite athlete, who happens to be a jumper training for London 2012. 
In a race against the clock, I just completed a brief series of competitions in Europe to test my “new foot” sans a posterior tibialis tendon.  With enough time to make any necessary changes for London 2012, the goal was to see how my “new foot” would hold up.  While, I took a nice competition beating, the mission of testing my foot seems to have gone well (pending final approval of my medical team)… AND, I also faced my inversion sprain fear. 
This injury had the potential to be career ending.  I’ve had 3 other near career ending injuries in my life; each one being a grinder as you work your way back to normality.  I was initially angry I lost this season, but when the Olympic Games is on the chopping block, I gladly would take a missed 2011 season for a successful London 2012 season.

As I’ve said many times, injuries come with the territory of being an elite athlete.  It’s a very fine line we walk and a game of survival.  Ask any professional athlete and they will all complain about being “dinged up” somewhere.  And most times we can compete close to 100%, but every now and then you get that one injury that feels like you’ve been smacked upside the head. 

I’ve had a few in my career…  I’m beginning to feel like a cat with 9 lives.  I think I could do with a season of no injuries, great performances and smooth sailing.  Say 2012? 

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!
Strengthened by weaknesses,
Nicole 

Written by

Dr. Nicole Forrester is an Olympian High Jumper, Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist, Mental and High Performance Consultant, and Professor. She believes and is committed to the pursuit of excellence. Nicole is the founder of Optimal Zone Inc. a consultant company which specializes in helping athletes and organizations reach and sustain high performance through training and developmental programs. Additionally, she has worked as a reporter, television host and blogger with CBC, and has provided content and comment for CTV, Rogers and Discovery Health Channel. Her blogs include high performance and lifestyle. Occasionally, she likes to push the envelope, blogging on taboo topics she references as Achtung Series!

14 Comments to “My “New Foot,” 2011 Season, and the Story of the Vanishing Tendon”

  1. Dr. L. Kelsey Armstrong says:

    >Amazing! There are other ligamentous and fascial structures that help support the arch too, so I am sure you can continue your elite level for the near future! Good luck and I enjoy your posts!

  2. Anonymous says:

    >I am here to drop of some words of encouragement. You can certainly do it! In 2012 if you believe you will bring back a medal.

    On another note, I am truly disappointed the selection committee didn't pick you for the World Championships. :(

  3. Nicole Wendy Forrester says:

    >Athletics Canada has been quite involved with the progression and "testing" of my foot. As such, I actually informed them before the selection process for World Championships that I would be ending my 2011 season to better prepare for 2012. Thanks for the words of encouragement. I'm feeling the love.

    Tbanks Dr. Armstrong for your supporting comments. I'm glad you enjoy my posts. Always, nice to hear.

  4. Anonymous says:

    >(I am the Anonymous from above)

    I have been following you from 2008! I was so happy to see you win the gold medal in New Delhi! Literally I was jumping up and down when you won.

    As for 2012 I will be there with you in spirit and when you win the medal I will be watching you just as most Canadians!

    Go Nicole!!

  5. Nicole Wendy Forrester says:

    >Oh Boy! That really has put a smile on my face and given me a feel good feeling. Thanks for the support! Really appreciated! And likewise I wish you all the best!

  6. Anonymous says:

    >Your welcome :)

    Any thoughts on Toronto not bidding for 2020? Maybe there is still a chance?

  7. Anonymous says:

    >Blimey! Amazing story. Did you completley severe the tendon or was it partial. I found out last week that i have completley severed mine doing training at work. I'm 34 I still have most my arch shape just waiting for meeting with consultants but ive heard the operations are pretty big and to get your foot back to be impossible. I was feeling down until i read this article. Wish you all the best in the future. Dan

  8. Nicole Wendy Forrester says:

    >Thanks Dan… Yes, it's a complete rupture. When you hear anything is ruptured it can be quite scary. However, if you have a good support/medical team dealing with such an injury can feel manageable. My medical team has been priceless for me… I've also become the biggest believer in rehab because of this injury…lol

  9. Anonymous says:

    >Thanks for the reply Nicole…… How did they fix yours…. they are hoping to re-attach mine to the bone… from reading up your spot on about having a good medical team as its essential that he foot is balanced correctly..

    Cheers Dan

  10. Howard says:

    >Hi Nicole.

    I was wondering what happened to you. I was searching the IAAF high jump start list but I couldn't find your name. Now I know why.

    I'm sure that you'll be back. I remember seeing you up at York practicing a couple years ago. Just you and the high jump pit; jumping over and over and over again.

    I hope that your injury heals perfectly and that you recover your full range of motion. I'm sure that you're doing isometrics in your cast.

    Howard

  11. Nicole Wendy Forrester says:

    >My foot has been progressing nicely. No surgery, but I did rehab for months. Certainly, an intriguing injury. Dan, I wish you all the best with recovering from your injury.

    Howard, due to my injury I am prepping for London 2012 and did not compete in Korea at Wold Champs. Thanks for the support!

  12. kvanlammeren says:

    Hello Nicole:

    Dedication, vision and committment – never give up on your dreams! I know you will get there..

    Your greatest cheerleader!

  13. Dr G says:

    Hi Nicole!

    Lovely story. Can I ask exactly what they did? I’m a triathlete just given the prognosis of never running again due to PT dysfunction.

    Thank you!

    Dan G

  14. [...] When I fractured my foot and ruptured my posterior tibilalis tendon (analogous with rupturing an Ach…, my greatest concern was whether I would ever be able to jump again.  Ironically, I underestimated the psychological battle that awaited.  The foot miraculously healed, sans surgery, but my mind was left back to May 6, 2011 – the day my injury occurred. [...]

  15. In the Arena says:

    [...] the Critic.  Even just a few months ago, as I struggled to come back from my seemingly impossible foot injury which resulted in the development of some hip/glute issue,  I had a dear friend say, “Well, I [...]

  16. [...] as one might have anticipated I would be.   To say this year was tough is an understatement.   In fact, it was exactly a year ago today I was diagnosed with a complete rupture of my posterior tib…  (This tendon is a big guy, starting from your inside ankle bone and wrapping under your foot to [...]

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