May 23, 2012
Ashleigh Moe Bows out of Regionals
By Wendy Wilson

A devastating ankle injury takes out the top woman in the North West.

Two-time CrossFit Games competitor Ashleigh Moe, currently the No. 1 woman in the North West, has been forced to bow out of Regionals due to an ankle injury. Though her hurt joint does not require surgery, Moe has had to put her training on hold while her overstretched ligaments and dislocated tendon heal.

Shortly after the 2012 Open wrapped up, Moe and Games competitor Noah Pester entered and won a local competition. The prize – a trip to San Diego to train with Coach Mike Burgener – proved bittersweet, reports Moe’s coach C.J. Martin of CrossFit Invictus.

“Our first training session was up at Coach Burgener’s gym,” Martin says. “She warmed up, and then we began front squatting. On Ashleigh’s third warm-up front squat, we heard a loud pop. Ashleigh’s posterior tibial tendon had broken free of its connective tissue that holds it under the medial malleolus [the knobby bone on the inside of your ankle].”

In layman’s terms: the ligaments in Moe’s ankle had overstretched, causing her tendon to dislocate.

“It was a weight that I had done several times before,” Moe says. “We all heard a loud Velcro ripping sound, and I just thought it would be something I could walk off. But then my foot cramped and it ended up not being so. Overnight, my range of motion was completely gone.”

After seeing three different doctors for this rare type of trauma, she finally consulted with an orthopedist who specializes in gymnastics injuries. His prognosis was positive. Because she did not tear the tendon itself, she did not require surgery and would be good to go after recouping for six to eight weeks following the dislocation.

“I’m going into the fifth week right now,” Moe says. “So it’s just super poor timing.”

She and Martin held onto some hope following the initial dislocation as she continued to train around the hurt ankle.

“Unfortunately, Ashleigh suffered a setback in her physical therapist’s office,” Martin says. “While testing her ankle’s range of motion, the tendon jumped again. Ashleigh finally had to make the tough decision to begin preparing for next year.”

Despite the setback, Moe continues to train – and she’s getting really good at upper body movements.

“I’ve done nothing but upper body stuff, so I’ve definitely improved being able to walk on my hands and do movements I was weaker at, like dips and muscle-ups,” she laughs.

“I’m optimistic about next year,” she continues. “I was finally able to do my first leg workout the other day. I’m able to do squats, though I have to keep my ankle from rolling and my knees from going inward. And I’m able to do light thrusters and jump on a 12-inch box now.”  

Though she won’t be competing, Moe will be at Regionals in Puyallup, Wash., this weekend, cheering for her favorite athletes – and walking around like nothing’s wrong at all. “But the injury has completely taken away any dynamic movements,” she says. “It’s not painful, but I can’t snatch and I can’t jump. My body is just not letting me do any of those kinds of movements.”

Once her body does let her get back under the bar, she’ll be among the elite again next year, Martin says.

“While Ashleigh will not be able to participate in this weekend’s Regionals, she is committed to coming back even stronger in 2013,” he says. “The injury gives her a full year to gain strength and improve movement efficiency, and it will leave her feeling hungrier than ever to return to the Games.”

Moe just has to get through an emotional weekend. “I’ve definitely been devastated over it,” she says. “But once this weekend is over, I’ll be much better.”