It turns out that nature built me a bit wonky. For as long as I have been a runner I have had issues with my left leg. It is always tight and always needs more massage than the right, and has always seemed to be either the root of or involved in any injuries that I have had to contend. I am also an over-pronator and it is worse on the left.
Over the years I had had comments along the lines of; ‘it is your weak side’, ‘your dominant side is the right side’, ‘it may just be how it is for you’, ‘make sure you balance your strength work equally’, ‘that side probably needs more stretching’. I have noted and processed such comments, but never really analysed them or taken on board what is really being said.
During that last ten months I noticed that something had changed with my bio-mechanics. Some of the old niggles and issues were re-surfacing and at the end of my racing year my left knee has developed a bit of a ‘niggle’. I had a sneaky suspicion that this related to the removal of a ‘toe block’ from my left orthotic, but when I queried it at the time was assured that I most likely did not need it anymore.
It is now a moot point. I have had a re-assessment, the orthotics have been altered, and then altered again and as previously blogged my feet and ankles need some mobilisation: the left one more so. Whilst going through this consultation I have been at times frustrated and doubting or questioning.
Would I have been in this situation if the toe-block had been left in place?
How do all the various issues relate to each other, and what causes what?
What is foot mobilisation?
What is the difference between techniques?
Why is one technique better than the other? Why should this technique be used over another one?
And why did I have to wear those odd little boots as a toddler?
Why have I never noticed how my left knee turns in? It’s really obvious too.
How does the stiff foot bones and ankle, pronation and knee thing add up?
I could ask these questions all day, seek different opinions, read articles but ultimately it comes down to what nature gave me.
It gave me a wonky left leg which is wonkier than the right. This affects my biomechanics. It is not me doing anything wrong; it is just the way I hang together. This is why I have had to wear support shoes in the past and why I have orthotics now. It becomes all the more obvious and troublesome because of the miles that I put in and the pounding through my feet and legs.
What to do? To simplify things massively I have two choices: rely on heavily built up orthotics to correct things or take steps to give nature a helping hand to improve things naturally which will result in less need for a heavily built orthotic.
There really is only one choice here and it is not the ‘be lazy and rely solely on the orthotics’ one. I need to get the bones in my foot and ankle loosened off and moving and I need to strengthen my ankle and calf, and also work on my medial glute to reduce the amount that knee turns in.
As I post this I have had two mobilisation sessions and my feet have responded well. There is now a full range of movement in both feet with the exception on my right big toe which is arthritic, but even that is massively improved. There is already a noticeable improvement in my transition and toe off. I am doing exercises to strength my feet and ankles and keep the mobility.
I will always need the orthotics, but this way there will be much less need for such intrusive orthotics. I will never be a thoroughbred but I can at least be less of a wonky donkey.