Monday, June 13, 2011

the problem with feet

as you know during my half ironman training i had quite a few problems with my feet.  i can say the effort and stress to make sure i could keep training was just as hard as the actual training.  constant ice, tennis ball massage, physio visits and pain was an experience.  i wasted money when i was referred to a really bad podiatrist.  tip - find out if the podiatrist has experience or knowledge about the sport you are in.  mine did zumba.  so the response from them was to just assume it was the plantar fasciitis and to hand me  a pair of orthotics that were/are useless.   they also forgot to inform me that it takes weeks to break them in and yet they knew i was three weeks out from busselton.  usually i try to be well informed but i was in pain and if they had told me i could compete without my feet i would have cut them off.  it did my head in that while running caused the problem it impacted me more on the bike and the swim. 

the training volume naturally eased off during taper prior to the 70.3 and then my feet started to improve and enabled me to recognise that it most definitely wasnt the plantar fascia but the balls of my feet and specifically the part below your second toe on each foot.  this is even more noticeable now as a callous on each foot has formed in that exact spot.  at times it felt like i was walking on a pebble and since my heel had never hurt it was pretty goods odds against it being plantar fasciitis.  the dimples in my foot come from my masseur sandals that are the BEST thing ever for injured feet.

Quite difficult to take a picture of the bottom of your foot - note missing skin from little toe !
 so now my mission this winter is to solve what went wrong with my feet.  i changed shoes prior to the race as i was informed that i do pronate but was running in a neutral shoe - the asic gel nimbus.  i changed to the brooks ravenna and they served me well.  a friend (who just completed comrades) recommended a podiatrist and i had an appointment on the weekend  and what a different experience it was.  the podiatrist i saw is a runner and was just brilliant.  she explained everything, checked out my feet, hip flexors, shoes and went through my history.  she then made little marks on the back of my legs and we went into another room where i ran on a treadmill - barefoot and then with my shoes on - while it was being recorded.  we reviewed the results.  firstly i only pronate very slightly on the left.  this explains why i was able to run in the gel nimbus for over two years with very few problems.  my arch (on both feet) does not collapse when i run and everything else is very normal.  the only thing that appears a little unusual is my extensor tendons near the top of my toes.  they look like they are over extended but without pain on top of the foot do not appear to be the problem.  when i run the extensor tendon near my ankle looks like it is being over extended and could be related to my calf problems.  this is something i will look into. 

so what is the answer.  it appears that once i increased the distance the bone near my second toe became inflamed and irritated.  this may have been due to the change in surface - running on grass and having to lift off more from the ball of my foot or just simply the increased distance.  metatarsalgia was ruled out since i do not suffer from numb toes or any tingling in my toes.  so my (new) podiatrist put very slight heel lifts/inserts in my shoes and added padding to the back of my inserts around the ball of my foot but cut out the space where the callous has formed.  i am still having problems with my calves (i dont know why) and the tendons at the back of my left knee and at this stage the best treatment seems to be massage and stretching.  rest makes no difference.  nothing is impacting my swimming and the only problem on the bike is the left leg when i get past the 70k mark.  no more burning feet.  running is a bitch.  i have the city to surf half marathon in 11 weeks and my calves will not let me run past 10k.  the podiatrist has told me to amp back up the distance.  we shall see. 


Mike said...

That's a link to a blog by Russ Cox, a talented triathlete and coach, who has been having calf issues while running. I don't know if it will be similar to your issues, but it appears his problem was really lack of hamstring and quad strength (which was also a problem for me causing a lot of hip flexor pain).

jenez_world said...

thanks for that - it confirms what i suspected. there is more to it and probably a symptom of another issue. just like russ i have done all the swim analysis and i think now it is time for a more indepth look at my running. and a real committment to stretching and strength training !!

Matthew Nicholas said...

After reading your post, I came to know that my problem is really similar yours. Yesterday I visited a podiatrist, and as part of their initial consultation, they videoed my running style to identify possible problems. Thanks for sharing this.
podiatrist perth