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My Left Foot

So, I spend a lot of time thinking about feet. Not just about what I'm wearing on them, (although as my parents and husband would testify, that has also been a long standing obsession), but on what they do for me, how they suffer, why they suffer and what I should be doing for them. I'm not going to cover all of that here or this would be a very, very long essay, but today's post is just a snippet, a little insight let's say, in to my sole...!

Firstly, why should we be looking after our feet? If you think about it, they take us from A to B whether that be a flat path, up hill, or down dale. We may be walking, running, kicking a ball. We may be wearing sensible flat shoes, trainers, heels - cuban or stiletto - or wellies.

Our feet do the job of holding up our bodies, making minute adjustments constantly to support us and to propel us forward when we want to travel. At the same time, we are using or challenging the rest of our bodies, which in turn can also have a knock on effect on those things at the bottom of our legs.

I for one was diagnosed with a Morton's Neuroma in my left foot about 7 years ago now. It is a condition that affects the nerves running between the metatarsals in the foot and as far as I know, there's no real known cause for it apart from generally doing the wrong things for one's feet and legs.

It was pretty painful and meant that I struggled not with wearing a heeled shoe, but on wearing flat shoes such as ballet pumps. My consultant talked about surgery, but in the meantime I was given some stretches. Which I didn't do...and the pain continued.

While I was burying my head in the sand about possibly needing surgery I spent a lot of time in trainers. I also set up Guildford Pilates Place with Jess Cooney and we bought our 6 Pilates Reformer machines. One of the fundamental sets of exercises you do on the Reformer and often at the beginning of a Reformer class, is the 'Footwork'. This involves laying on the machine, feet on the foot bar and going through different positions in different alignments whether it be parallel (knees/toes facing the ceiling), lateral rotation (turn out) or medial rotation (turn in). These exercises work not only the legs, but the feet and ankles too in a balanced controlled way and as I've always attended the classes at the studio that the rest of the team teach, it means they keep an eye on how my ankles and feet are moving and make corrections where necessary.

Since I started consistently using the Reformer, my left foot has improved hugely, to the point that I probably only feel a slight discomfort every few months. This is in complete contrast to when I used to hobble around unable to weight bear on my left foot and curse whoever encouraged the ballet pump trend.

What the Reformer has done is balanced the muscles in my feet, ankles and legs and has made them mobile, strong and flexible and kept the bones of the feet in good alignment. Ok, they're not perfect, I'm still working on that, but things have moved on enough that I forget I was ever diagnosed as having a Morton's Neuroma.

There are other things I would like to say about feet in due course. I have my right foot to talk about at some point and my son's 8 year old feet. I may not talk about my husband's feet - though actually his is an interesting story involving walking barefoot on an Ibiza beach and his toe finding some broken glass.

Anyway, I digress, feet have become my thing and over the coming weeks (interspersed with some non-foot posts!) I will try and illustrate how caring for and exercising our feet and lower limbs will pay dividends as we get older and keep us whizzing around town as comfortably as possible! In the meantime, if you think your feet are telling you that they need help, come and share your story and we'll see what we can do!

Bye for now!

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