The importance of feet, part 1

I’d like to share a story that has had the biggest influence (positive and negative) on my life over the past 10 years. The negative’s are the frustration, the pain and impact on my general day to day life.

The positive’s are the impact on who I am, what I do, and how I coach today…

There will be a few parts to this I feel, so here’s part one detailing some background. Later parts will include practical steps for children and adults to develop their feet to their full potential.

Here we go...

In early 2012 I started noticing some pain at the base of my little toe on my left foot. By the end of March the same feeling had spread inwards on the left and I also felt similar in my right. Over a couple of months of doctor and specialist visits I had been diagnosed with Reactive Arthritis.

Reactive is a type of Inflammatory Arthritis that causes the tendons and ligaments to become inflamed and painful. Essentially my feet puffed up with inflammation and, at the height of the condition I couldn’t stand on them due to the pain.

I was prescribed a high dose of daily Ibuprofen (double the recommended for adults) and told to essentially see what happens. I did a lot of research which suggested that the symptoms usually go away over time, but can flare up at different times in life.

After a couple of months of 12 pills per day, It was wearing on me, so I decided to lower the dose and see what happened. I went down to 8 pills - no increase in pain. I stayed there for a month and lowered to 6…I progressively decreased to 4, 2 and 1 over about 4/5 months until although I felt sensitivity I could go through the day without the anti-inflammatories.

I had come through!! (So I thought)…

I’m going to back before I go forward to provide some context….

In late 2008 I was knocked off my push bike by a car. It was low speed and I only suffered a few scrapes, but had a big impact on my right hip when I landed.

A Month later I walked into the pool to coach and a parent, Nikki (a physio) asked what was wrong with my back. I lifted up my T-Shirt to see my pelvis had shifted to the right and I had a massive lateral curve in my spine. What had happened was all my tissues had contracted around the point of impact from the accident.

I rehabbed this for 6 months, I felt normal and even finished a half Ironman 15 months after and a full Ironman 18 months after the crash…

In mid 2014 I started having back pain…it felt like the pain I had in 2008 after the crash - without the severe shift.

I went to the Physio who played around in the localised area for a few sessions with no major improvement. I got the feeling he didn’t really know what the cause was so stopped going.

The pain wasn’t debilitating enough to my day to day life, and thought I just needed to move more and the pain would go away.

It didn’t…It would arrive in waves, last a few days and subside for no apparent reason.

I spent the next 4-5 years seeing a number of different people in different professions. Osteo’s, Physio’s, I worked on my diet, my sleep, my breathing, all with small impacts but no major improvement.

In early 2019 I started online coaching with Fighting Monkey as what I felt was a last ditch effort to try and fix myself. I won’t go into major detail (If you’re interested you can find out more about them here )

The first video lecture runs through the importance of the feet as the base of our body's architecture. I listened, but I didn’t LISTEN…

Over 12 months of frustration, persistence, joy and more frustration I finally started to feel the root of the problem on Christmas Day 2019…My feet, and more specifically, my right foot and ankle.

This feeling I finally had was one of alignment, where tension melted away. It lasted only a day, but was strong enough to give me a reference point to work from.

To me I feel like the arthritis severely weakened possibly an already weak right foot…like knocking out a bunch of house piles and letting the entire house shift over time.

It’s February 2020 and i’ve made a lot of progress, all coming back to opening the ankles and feet to more sensitivity, connection and understanding.

The more I feel, the more I understand, and the work i’ve put in feels validated.

I feel blessed that I get to experience what it is to build a foot from scratch and the impact it has on my entire body. I TRUELY understand their importance from a movement and health perspective.

Unfortunately as adults we can’t remember what it was like when our feet developed from baby to toddler to child and onwards…We don’t appreciate their importance unless we have a problem, and usually it’s far after the damage has been done…

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