On this blog, I’ve talked a lot about goals and the sense of disappointment that often accompanies the goal-setting process when things don’t go the way we plan.
Living with chronic pain, there are always going to be new challenges for me. I need to accept that, stay adaptable and keep my head up no matter how much it hurts.
Some readers may have been wondering, what happened to all the fitness posts? Well, as of right now my running days are pretty much over, and I’m keeping things low-key for a reason. Those are not my feet in the x-ray image above, but mine very well could look like that if I don’t take it easy on my bunion.
That’s right – I have a bunion.
Prior to last month, I didn’t even know what that word meant. I guess I always assumed that it was some gross blister. Turns out it’s a bona-fide bone disorder, and if it gets bad enough, it can only be corrected by a painful surgery.
Bunions are caused primarily from wearing poorly-fitting shoes, which unluckily for me, describes much of my professional attire over the past few years.
Wearing high heels or pointed shoes for extended periods of time causes the big toe to squish inward, toward or even underneath the other toes. If not corrected, the toe will continue to grow out of alignment, and an extra piece of bone can start growing on the outside of the foot. As you can imagine, removing the extra bone surgically and re-setting the toe joints is incredibly painful, doesn’t always work, and puts the patient in a wheelchair for recovery. Let’s just say I do not want it to get to this point!
I’ve got to hand it to the company that makes my orthotics for breaking the news to me. When I was 13, my parents had some custom corrective insoles made for me at the California State Fair, up in Sacramento, by a company called Action Orthotics.
It may seem odd to get podiatry work done at the fair, but it’s a bargain when compared with going to a specialist’s office. The orthotics completely changed my life, ending my foot pain and relieving my knee pain as well. I had a new pair of insoles made during college, but eventually they weren’t feeling right in my shoes, and I’d given up on wearing them sometime last year.
This 4th of July I went to the fair and saw the Action Orthotics booth yet again! I told them all about how I’d been wearing their insoles for about a decade, and the conversation moved to some of the foot, ankle and hamstring problems I’ve been dealing with ever since my last half marathon in August of 2015. With that, I decided to get a fresh new pair of insoles made.
As they were measuring my feet, they started talking amongst themselves. “Should we cut the left one down a bit, since she has this bunion here?”
I was shocked. “I have a what?!” They explained to me what all was going on with my toe, and suddenly everything made sense. All the pain in my foot and ankle after running…feeling like I was constantly off-stride but not being able to pinpoint it..my old insoles not feeling right…all of this was caused by the bunion!
Luckily, mine is in the beginning stages, and though I may always have a bit of a nub on the side of my foot, I may not need surgery if I can slowly relax my foot muscles back into their correct positions.
So what have I been doing?
Well, other than keeping up with my low-impact strength and swimming workouts, I haven’t been doing a whole lot of anything. Treating a bunion involves a lot of lounging around and watching Netflix with YogaToes on. These are really cool jelly toe separators that help your feet and toes realign and relax after being cooped up in your shoes all day. Based on reviews, I’m holding out hope that using the YogaToes daily will help me align my toes and avoid painful bunion removal surgery.
I’m also avoiding wearing high heels, having traded them in for a pair of supportive, roomy Birkenstock sandals or my athletic shoes.
Pssst…..Using a topical cannabis salve or cream on my foot and ankle also really helps 🙂
Now that I’ve got one, I notice every person out in public that has bunions. These people are all wearing sandals with zero support, or things between the toes. Their toes are jammed into the shoe without a second thought. Don’t be that person!
If you’re a runner, want to make me a promise? Wear proper shoes when you run, wear the most supportive and least pointed heels that you possibly can if it’s your preferred work shoe, and for the love of Pete, watch your toes for those damn bunions! They HURT!