Working As A Physical Actor , Artist And PhD Student After A Fractured Sternum And Chronic Pain.

Zoe Smith, UK

Summary: Zoe fractured her sternum during an unfortunate rugby tackling incident. Whilst most sternal fractures heal over a relatively short period of time, Zoe was unlucky and despite the support of numerous health care professionals her sternum never felt fully recovered. Zoe was unable to return to rugby, became medication dependent for sleep and the lack of diagnosis was taking a toll on her mental health.

First game changer: getting a diagnosis

Zoe’s luck changed when one day she met a new doctor. On reviewing Zoe’s case, he commented that he had read about Zoe’s type of injury and diagnosed her with a chronically inflamed tendon around the sternum. This new diagnosis unlocked a new treatment program that involved steroid injections into the sternum every three months. Zoe is careful to say that the injection does not stop the pain but changes it in a way that is a lot more manageable.

Second game changer: Running

Zoe is a naturally competitive person and being unable to return to rugby she needed a new physical outlet. Zoe decided to start running. It should be pointed out that running was initially very painful for Zoe as it stretched and compressed the tissues around her sternum. Despite this she kept on training and gradually the pain has become more and more controlled. At the same time she could also see noticeable differences in the distances and times she was running, which served as a big motivator to keep training. Running has now become a safe space for Zoe and she can use the headspace created during her sessions to visualise new choreography.

The Little things that made a big difference Goal setting & accountability:

Running was a turning point for Zoe, but as anyone knows who has started running it can be boring and it is extremely easy to give up. Zoe has always been strongly motivated by goal setting and so she set herself the goal of running the London Marathon. Not only this, but she also decided to raise money for an injured rugby players charity. These two single actions had now setup a very strong source of motivation and accountability for Zoe to help ensure she kept up her training even when things got tough.

Posture Form: Zoe is blessed to have trained as a physical actor, which has given her a deep appreciation of body position and awareness. This insight helped her realise that her running form may be contributing to her pain. Since then she has worked on training her running form which in turn has significantly improved her comfort.
Zoe also uses this body awareness to help reduce tension in her body when she has to work at a desk.

Learn More About Zoe’s Work

To listen to the Zoe Smith Podcast please Click here

Zoe is a versatile actor having worked in film and TV as well as street theatre. Please click on the video to see some of Zoe’s work on a production called Wicked Women.

Please click on the video to see some of Zoe’s showreel.

As well as her physical acting and PhD studies, Zoe also has been developing a collection of graphic art. To see more of Zoe’s work (shown above) please visit @fade_arts on instagram

An important part of Zoe’s recovery has been the discovery of running. Zoe is running the london marathon later this year. To find out more about which charity Zoe is supporting please Click Here