Monday, 18 August 2014

you're weightless, you're exotic...


For the last year, I've had various problems on my left side, all apparently deriving from a combination of a loss of flexibility in my ankle and a general loss of muscle strength in my left side... both likely MS related.  I've seen a specialist sports surgeon and various physios, most of whom have acknowledged that they can't address the underlying cause, but they can try and address the symptoms.  That's fine by me because all I really want to do is keep running, pretty much whatever it takes.

The latest stop on my journey was a visit to the orthotics department at QMC on Friday.  The lady was really nice and she gave me a pair of carbon fibre insoles to wear in my running shoes to try and stop the collapse of my left knee inwards when I get tired. I've tried insoles before and they've never really done anything for me.  In fact, things seemed to get get better for me generally when I switched to a more minimal running shoe.  I'm not a barefoot running zealot, by any means, and I never thought that it would be in the least bit sensible for a man of my size and with my mechanical issues to cut down the amount of cushioning in my running shoe.  Well, all I know is that switching shoes and drastically reducing the heel cushioning has cut down the niggles I'd been having *and* made me faster.  I don't run in a completely barefoot shoe and I'm not entirely sure that I ever will, but the change seems to have worked for me.  That said, I'll give these new insoles a try anyway: the collapse of my knee when I get tired is likely to be a key part in the chain of mechanical failures that's been giving me problems in my knees and hips, so as I start to increase mileage towards the marathon, I'll see how they go.  Besides, there's no reason why increased support under the arch of my foot isn't compatible with a drastically reduced heel cushion anyway.

The other thing that the orthotist gave me on Friday was an velcro ankle cuff with an elastic strap that attaches to a hook you put over the tongue of your running shoe.


But that's just for my private fuzzy tingle times.

OK.  No it's not.  That's my Strassburg sock.

The idea is that this particular S&M device provides a bit of tension as you run and prevents you dropping your foot at the ankle. Foot drop is a really common symptom of MS and is related to a loss of flexibility in the ankle.  In my case, this manifests itself when I get tired and I start to scuff my left foot.  This has led to knock-on issues up my left leg and into my left hip, exacerbating the problems caused by the collapse of my knee inwards (I'm learning a lot about biomechanics at the moment).  This ankle cuff is supposed to stop the drop.

I've worn this contraption on a couple of runs now, and it's far less uncomfortable than you might imagine.  Is it helping?  Well, I think time will tell.  The orthotist felt that if I was going to run longer distances, then this was an absolutely vital support to help keep me on the road.  Needs must when the devil drives.

I ran 6.60 miles this evening, and having felt fatigued and MS-y all afternoon, I motored around in an average pace of 7.49 minutes per mile... which for me is really quick.  Either those horrific interval sessions that I've started doing on a Wednesday evening are starting to take effect or I'm now effectively bionic.

Maybe both?



I'm more machine now than man, you know.  Twisted and evil.

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