As if I didn’t find running bad enough I do have some physical difficulties to overcome. I was born with congenital hip disorder called Hip Dysplasia. I spent the first six months of my life, rather awkwardly for my parents, in a metal and leather brace positioning my legs in a frog-like position. Although I no longer have difficulties with my hip coming out of joint, when my right leg was braced it was braced so that my lower leg is now slightly twisted. My knee and ankle are 45º out. This might have something to do with why I suffer with shin splints on that leg more than the left. My right leg is also an inch shorter than my left, which has obvious implications for my spine.
To be honest I’ve just learnt to deal with all this. I go for monthly chiropractor sessions (I’ve had to see someone about my back since I was 16) and as soon as I was able to I went for gait analysis to check my running style. As I expected I overpronate badly on my right foot and so motion control trainers were recommended. I chose Asics GT-2150 trainers and felt the difference straight away. My Reeboks were consigned to trail runs.
Now, that’s enough surely! No, I also have proprioception difficulties caused mainly through damaging my ankles. I have a habit of falling out of back doors when stepping down. No alcohol involved! It’s as if I momentarily forget I have feet. I have no idea where they are going and then find myself lying in shock on the floor! It’s quite bizarre!
My chiropractor has given me a series of exercises to do to help regain my proprioception skills. It’s all about balance and starts easy by just standing on tip toes. To begin with I had to hold on to a table in order to balance, it was that bad!
1. Stand on tip toes holding on to a table or chair for one minute and then rest. Repeat 5 times.
2. Stand on one leg on tip toes for one minute. Hold onto chair/table for support. Repeat 4 times changing feet each time.
3. When 1 and 2 become easy try without support.
4. Using an old hairbrush brush the soles of feet (this stimulates receptors).
5. Put a hankerchief/paper kitchen towel/napkin on the floor and pick up with toes. Repeat 5 times each foot.
6. Walk on toes for 15 seconds. Walk on heels for 15 seconds. Repeat 2 times.
I have also bought a wobble board. It cost me GBP£3 from TKMaxx which was obviously a total bargain because the one I’ve just found online that is identical is £20 (go me!). This is adjustable as you can see to make balancing more difficult.
Wobble Board Exercises / Balance Board Workout
(Balance board workout starting easy and getting harder)
1. Whilst sitting down place the wobble board under the feet and slowly rotate it a number of times in each direction.
2. Stand on the wobble board, feet shoulder width apart. Hold on to a chair for support if needed and rock the board forwards and backwards, then side to side. Do this for 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Stand on the wobble board, feet shoulder width apart. Rotate the wobble board round so that the edge of the board is in contact with the floor at all times. Again try this for 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Stand on the wobble balance board, again feet shoulder width apart – no chair allowed! Rock the board front to back for 1 minute then side to side for one minute.
5. Balance on the wobble board for as long as you can without the edges touching the floor. Aim for over 2 minutes without touching the floor.
6. Rotate the wobble board in a circle but do not allow the edge of the board to touch the floor. Aim for 2 minutes.
7. Stand on the wobble board with one leg. Rock the board from front to back for 1 minute and then side to side for 1 minute.
8. Again stand on the wobble board with one leg only. Rotate the board in a circular motion in one direction for 1 minute then repeat in the other direction.
9. Try to balance on the wobble board with one leg only! How long can you go for?
10. When you have mastered all of the above you should have strong stable ankles and be an expert. Now try it all with your eyes closed!!
I’m not going to let any difficulties stop me from running and whenever things start to get tough I remind myself that there are people achieving more than me with greater difficulties. In fact, just watch this. Everything zooms right into perspective!