21 November 2019 11:54

Aidan Tully – Road to Recovery

Project B Achiever Aidan Tully suffered an unexpected injury ahead of one of New Zealand’s top competitions. Aidan shares with us his injury story and how he handled the recovery process.

I was rehearsing my Le Corsaire variation for the Alana Haines Awards and all was going well. I finished the dance, got up, bowed and ran to the side. It was at this moment that I realised that something was wrong with my left knee. After I came out of my usual adrenaline high the discomfort quickly turned to pain, and I realised that something was wrong.

The pain and discomfort did not seem to ease the next day and we contacted a physiotherapist and soon came to the conclusion that I had sprained the Medial Collateral Ligament in my knee and would have an expected recovery time of approximately 11 weeks.

At first it was hard to wrap my head around the concept, and I almost didn’t take it very seriously; but I tried to do some light dance work by myself and began to realise how serious it this problem was. I couldn’t dance anymore, and even running was out of the question.

At this point I began to start feeling more and more uncomfortable at my current predicament and started to think negatively at my situation. I wasn’t doing my prescribed physio exercises, and I wasn’t getting any better, and I began spiraling into a level of lower self-esteem because of my lack of ability.

This low self-esteem began to start affecting other parts of my life and made me more irritable and much less fun to be around. A week or two passed, and I just got frustrated with being frustrated, so I set up my Theraband and started doing my exercises in my room, by myself.

Slowly and gradually, I began to see small improvements, my knee wasn’t so sore in the morning and I was starting to be able to do more at dance. My mood improved because of my new commitment to recovery, and my mental and physical state continued to get better.

As I approached the 10-week (out of the expected 11) mark since my injury I still wasn’t feeling 100% and was concerned that I wasn’t going to fully recover, but as I moved into that final week the injury finally fully healed. It was such an incredible feeling having known that I had put in the work and energy to get myself back to where I wanted to be.

I found one of the most infuriating things to be the fact that I couldn’t dance at my full potential. I would be standing at the barre in a 1st position with my feet less than 90o apart and not allowed to plie past demi watching everyone else leap and turn around the room and it was tantalizingly close, but I wasn’t allowed.

This drove me quite  mad at first, but then I realised how rare and valuable it is to get to watch what other people are doing with complete focus and figure out what and how they are doing it, which gave me some valuable insight into how I can learn and make myself better.

But that was months ago, and while I still have the occasional twinge, I have had no long-lasting remnants of my 11 weeks off. I feel great, and I have learnt so much along the way; like how much I took for granted in terms of dancing and even getting out of bed in the morning without pain, and also to always remain resilient when you might not be doing do well. Things can and will always get better and there are lots of people who are willing to help you out.

Injuries are difficult to deal with and can take a lot of time to come right, but sometimes you take time off to look at yourself and your dancing, and really fine-tune your skills and work on conditioning yourself so that when you heal up, you are already further along than before