Some people have two left feet – I’ve got two flat ones.
Being flatfooted didn’t seem to bother me when I was growing up, but I noticed that I started having pain in my feet when I was in college. While it was uncomfortable, I never felt the need to seek medical advice.
It all changed in Ukraine when I woke up one morning with a swollen ankle. I had assumed that I must have injured it the night before while stumbling around in the dark trying to get back to my apartment. I rested, but any time I walked the pain seemed to get worse. I was on my way to Kyiv later that week, so I stopped in the doctor’s office and told them I thought I had sprained my ankle. The doctor took one look at my feet and said, “You realize you are flat footed and need inserts, right?” Huh? What did having flat feet have to do with a sprained ankle? I was incredulous. Clearly, I had injured myself and some insert wouldn’t solve my problem.
The doctor took me to a store in Kyiv, and within 20 minutes I had styrofoam inserts for my shoes. As soon and I put those inserts into my shoes, all of the pain that I had been experiencing melted away. It was a breath of fresh air – I suddenly wanted to walk everywhere! I had a brand new outlook on life – all from some foam in my shoes. Who knew?
Fast forward 7 years. I was out on a routine 4 mile run in January, and I felt sudden pain in my ankle. Immediately, I thought I had sprained it – or worse. I rested for a week and then I was out running again. WHAM! In March, the pain returned. At that point I had a mini-meltdown. The Cherry Blossom 10-miler, Nike Half Marathon, Pittsburgh Half Marathon were all coming within the month. I was devastated thinking that I would miss them. I made an appointment with a foot and ankle specialist in DC. His assessment? My orthotics. Not for one second I thought the swelling and pain I was experiencing was caused by my flat feet. The doctor suggested that I start running with orthotics.
Getting used to running in orthotics took weeks, but I was able to run my back-to-back half marathons. I am really glad to have discovered my source of pain, but it is creating an entirely new problem – finding new running shoes. (To be continued…)