How Nancy Kerrigan's Surprising Injury Has Impacted Her 'Dancing with the Stars' Journey

Nancy Kerrigan delayed a spine surgery to compete on Dancing with the Stars

Nancy Kerrigan has been battling an old injury while on Dancing with the Stars — and it’s not the one you’re probably thinking about.

The Olympic figure skater’s knee was infamously injured when she was attacked in 1994, but Kerrigan was actually in the doctor’s office for a spinal injury when she got the call offering her a spot on season 24 of the ABC reality dance competition.

“When I got asked, I was at the neurosurgeon’s office,” she told PEOPLE after Monday’s episode of DWTS. “I was like, ‘Oh, this is interesting. Now?’ But what an opportunity. I just wanted to be here and do this and be a part of this.”

Part of that motivation was her kids: Matthew, 20, Brian, 11, and Nicole, 8.

“They’re huge fans,” Kerrigan, 47, told reporters. “We watch [the show] all the time — since the beginning — so they’re loving it.”

But the Olympian admits the show has been a physical challenge.

ABC/Craig Sjodin

“Everything hurts. I’m so sore, it’s insane. I haven’t used a lot of these muscles in many, many years. I forgot they even were there. Training is training, it’s a mindset, but I haven’t trained and skated in a long time — and these moves are totally, totally different,” says Kerrigan, who is paired with pro dancer Artem Chigvintsev. “We’re there for four or five hours just training straight and it’s exhausting. It’s not something like with skating where I can mark things because I know what I’m doing. This is new. so I’m trying to push hard all of those hours and I’m tired, so you get a little bit emotional and mentally drained.”

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To make sure her spine says in good condition, Kerrigan says she’s doing “a lot of stretching and stuff to make sure I’m dancing up straight,” but she’s also focused on how the competition is changing her on the inside.

“We train really hard and go through the number so many times, so I should feel good about our routines. But doubt comes in,” she says. “So I want to become more confident. Really, I’m loving this whole experience.”

Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (at 8 p.m. ET) on ABC.

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