I had seen a physiotherapist and an osteopath; I had consulted my personal trainers (yep, I have two) and I had even spoken to fellow runners, but after 10 months and endless numbers of leg raises and squats and even some sessions with the Core Momentum Trainer (that deserves a post of its own) and a stint in barefoot shoes I was still no closer to putting on a pair of running shoes in earnest.
So, when the College of Podiatry suggested that I should see a podiatrist, my only thought was that it might make for another nice Feet For Life post.
I would never have guessed that six days later, I would be out running 5km.
I was referred to Podiatrist Mandy Abbott (now forever known as Magic Mandy) at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and right up until I entered the clinic, I wasn’t completely sure what help a podiatrist would be, although she certainly helped me with my obligatory selfie!
Sure, I do possess typical runner’s feet and I could benefit with having some hard skin removed, but just how would a podiatrist help me to run again or even walk without pain again?
Well, I soon learned that in addition to being a lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University, Mandy Abbott also specialises in biomechanics and she offered to review my gait and examine my feet, ankles and knees.
This wasn’t like the standard treadmill gait analysis found in your average running shop. Mandy checked my range of motion in my ankles before asking me to walk up and down the clinic. After what felt like about 300 laps, she told me to stop.
She had seen enough.
I had excess hard skin along the outsides of my feet and especially in the heel. The latter wasn’t a surprise, as I know that I am a heavy heel striker (when my foot lands, it lands heel first), but the explanation for the outer foot was more of a shock.
During my walk up and down the clinic I displayed signs that I have Genu Varum or bow legs as they are more commonly known. I walk on the outside of my feet (supination) and my my lower legs are inverted. This is yet another sign/symptom of osteoarthritis and I am close to finally accepting that I cannot continue living in denial. At some point my knees will require further investigation.
However, at the very least , I now have a more than viable explanation for my knee pain. Something that I have been searching for. With this knowledge, I can move on.
So what does it all mean and why is it causing pain?
Whenever I walk or run it is most likely that my tibia and femur are making contact which is increasing my knee degeneration and causing the associated pain. I am also possibly stretching the lateral ligaments and this might explain my reluctance to attempt any movements that involve bending or twisting my knee.
Training sessions with Scott Devenney (using the HUB and the CMT) prove that I can perform lunges and that I can apply load to me knee. I will continue to train and I will keep strengthening my body and lowering my body fat. This will all help me move better and without unplaced fear. I will not lunge into anything too quickly, but I will lunge.
As as well as an explanation for my mobility issues, Mandy also recommended and provided me with an orthosis for my shoes. It has a lateral wedge that will enable me to walk with less pronation with the force of each landing being absorbed more centrally thus increasing knee joint stability. It will also help with my knee alignment and increase the space between my tibia and femur which should help ease my symptoms and reduce the pain.
This a temporary orthosis that Mandy fabricated in a matter of minutes and should it continue to work, I will look into getting a more long term orthosis produced. I don’t particularly want to wear an orthosis for the rest of my life, but it is much more preferable than walking in pain and not being able to run again
Mandy provided me with something else too. Hope. Hope that I will run again and hope that my dream of being an Ironman isn’t over before it even starts.
Even after only a week of wearing the orthosis and making a conscious effort to walk that little bit more straight, the frequency and the intensity of the pain has decreased. It hasn’t gone completely, but it is no longer ever present and I don’t feel that it is restricting me as much as it has in the past.
So much so, that when my girlfriend Teresa suggested that we go for a short run this week I agreed. Without hesitation. It wasn’t fast but it was pain free and even after 5km I felt that I could have kept going. However, taking small steps has always been my approach and 5km was far enough for my first run.
I’ll rest my knee and I will look forward to my Cancer Research Tough 10 event on November 6th for which I am an Ambassador. It will be my first (and possibly only) event of this year and although I will not be fast I will run and after 10 months out, I hope you all appreciate just how much this means to me. I’ve lost and given up a few things in the past year and I had begun to believe that I would never run again.
It’s too soon to say that I’m back and I doubt that I’ll ever again fully consider myself as a runner, but I can and I will run. And I will be an Ironman.
And if that wasn’t good enough, Mandy provided me with an excuse to buy new running shoes. With my supination and bow legs, my current shoes are undoubtedly worn away on the outer edges and it is in my best interests to replace them (I’ll ignore the fact that I do already own several as yet unworn pairs). My first pair arrive on Wednesday.
When I partnered with the College of Podiatry to promote the Feet for Life campaign I never envisioned that it would be a podiatrist that would hold the key to my knee pain and to me running again. I simply wanted to show that our feet deserve more attention and more care. Now, I also want to show that Podiatry is about much more than treating athlete’s foot or removing corns…..although that will probably be the content of the next Feet for Life blog.