With my Ironman training gaining momentum (i.e. I am finally being consistent with both my training and my diet), I am still consciously aware that before I can start running again, I need to be able to walk (comfortably) again.
For the past year, my knee pain has made made running impossible and walking difficult.
My visit to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital to see Magic Mandy identified that I had some abnormalities in my gait and the introduction of a temporary orthotic eased the pain considerably for a week or so (you can read that blog HERE).
However, if I was to ever run again and become an Ironman, I would need to find a long term solution.
And thankfully, I was presented with an opportunity that I could not refuse. I don’t demand or receive payment for the vast majority (i.e. all but three) of my blog posts whether they are for How Many Miles, FSEM, Man v Fat or the BMJ, so I was delighted when Ciaran of Foot Medic Podiatry in Bearsden contacted me to praise my work on the Feet For Life campaign with the College of Podiatry and then proceeded to invite me me along to his clinic for assistance with my recovery.
Once past the very lush and relaxing reception area Foot Medic Podiatry looks more like a science lab than a podiatry clinic. Ciaran and the team must have one of the most advanced private clinics in the country and the big kid in me wanted to play with it all.
While there is a treadmill and multiple cameras to analysis a runner’s gait, Ciaran suggested that with my knee pain that we use the pressure pads on the floor to assess my stance and my walking style. After an initial static reading, I repeatedly walked the short length of the clinic treatment room with a step landing on the pressure pad which would measure my landing and my step off.
Once Ciaran had enough data and had quickly assessed it with his trained eye, he presented his findings….in Technicolour.
From the computer images, It was clear that when standing I favour one side of my body over the other while almost a third of my weight distributed through my right heel. This is consistent with observations from Magic Mandy and from one of my Personal Trainers, Scott Devenney.
We next looked at how my feet land and then take off.
My heavy heel striking came as no surprise, but two things did come as a shock. Ciaran identified that when stepping off, I gently and possibly invisibly to the naked eye, perform an abductory twist just as my foot leaves the ground. Basically this means that I whip my heel and smarter people than me have explained this as my pelvis and tibia not working together. While it might not explain all of my pain, it was another piece of the puzzle that are my lower limbs. As was the fact that I had achilles tendinopathy, possibly due in part to lots of miles ran and years of my poor feet carrying substantial weight. With limited foot dorsiflexion, this could explain my very short stride
With my history of Perthes Disease and the clues that he had already discovered, Ciaran also had me lie down to measure my legs and what he discovered added yet another clue.
My right leg is 16mm shorter than my left and while up to 10mm is within normal parameters, Ciaran suggested that we consider this when it came to fabricating my orthotics.
For that was to be the final surprise. While most podiatrists have to send away for orthotics to be made, with a waiting time of around 14 days, Foot Medic Podiatry were able to cast my feet and produce my orthotics in just over an hour. And not just your run of the mill insoles. These bad boys would be made of Crist’air, a material that is used in making bulletproof products.
Ciaran was going to bulletproof my feet
Firstly though, he had me stand in their foot casting machine, which saw bags of heated silica mould around my feet.
Then the insoles were heated around my cast before we started on fabricating the wedges that would hopefully address my supination and my short right leg. I say we as I just had to get in on the action.
Ciaran explained that he would use a carbon fibre composite for the base and that we would grind it into shape. We would not compensate for the full 16mm, but instead, around half of that. The reason, Ciaran explained, was that any more could create imbalances and cause more harm than good. It has taken me 36 years post Perthes to develop my unique gait and I accepted that any sudden changes might not be welcomed by my body.
The end result was two pairs of orthotics that should hopefully see me through next year’s gruelling training regime, but if I should need more, I will not hesitate to return to the Foot Medic Podiatry. In fact, before I return to running, I will go west and have my running gait fully assessed by Evelyn, Foot Medic Podiatrist’s resident running expert.
However, I don’t know whether to forgive them for making me don this costume. On behalf of the entire Feet For Life campaign, I wish you all a Merry Christmas. Maybe, someone will treat your feet to some pampering this year.