Artist Kayla-Maree tells us how physio has helped her recover from surgery

The injury

For quite a few years I had a lot of pain in my foot, to the point where I could barely get up on demi-pointe. A scan revealed that I had cartilage damage and a lot of inflammation. The only option was surgery. The surgeons discovered two extra bone fragments in surgery - no wonder I was in so much pain.

Kayla-Maree Tarantolo in Scottish Ballet's Hansel & Gretel.

The journey to recovery

I had absolute rest for five weeks following the surgery. This was hard. After the rest period, I did a bit of barre. Martin (Scottish Ballet's Physiotherapist) gave me a bespoke programme to strengthen the muscles around my joints. Week one of the programme was as little as ten rises on one leg three times, ten squats three times... lots of little movements to get the muscles awake again. As the weeks went by I did more repetitions. By week eight I was back in pointe shoes, by week ten I was back in class, by week 12 I was back in rehearsals for Highland Fling. Martin has also been giving me scar tissue massage and acupuncture.

Kayla-Maree on tour with Scottish Ballet in Seoul

The mental challenge

I had a dip around week four of the rehabilitation. I still had a bit of the same pain in my foot that I had before the surgery and was starting feel like having surgery was a bad idea. I was much weaker because I had so much time off. I took a few days off and just decided to change my mental approach; I told myself that I was going to get through class pain free, and I did. Mentally, I’m stronger now. Martin gave me a chart that explains the psychological process of recovering from major surgery - feeling like you are getting better and then the dips in confidence that are part of the journey.

Having Martin here is so important, I didn’t feel like I was alone in my recovery. When everyone was away on tour dancing the ballet that I have always dreamed of performing The Nutcracker, it could feel very lonely. Martin tracked my progress. Having someone recording the difference in week one and three’s plié really kept me going.

Staying injury free

Every morning I come in early to go for a little run, alternating fast and slow to build up stamina, I will need to keep doing this for as long as I keep dancing. It has been hard for me to sacrifice a little bit of flexibility for strength, but it has been worth it. I’m listening to Martin, not pushing it and it’s all good. I’m so happy to be dancing again.