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Foot Pain and Cute Shoes

Ms. Fancy Goes to Alaska

We were taking a trip to Alaska. My new bride has booked a cruise with many excursions to the great outdoors. That means we have to find clothes that will be both sensible and cute as we hike, boat, whale watch, ice climb, and all that sort of Alaska stuff. So we have to get shoes. Smart shoes. Cute shoes.

She’s not really known for being a woman in comfortable shoes. In fact, she broke her toe three hours before our wedding and didn’t let on until we were headed to the reception. Look at those strappy heels. Didn’t even wince. She’s amazing.

Focus, Man, FOCUS

So there I am in REI. I was trying on a North Face vest, and she walked around the corner in some grey trail runners. Hmmm. I’m thinking… “well, this is new ground for her, and these aren’t the sort of things that she would wear much if they’re that ugly.” I need to be sensitive without looking too sensitive. Or alarmed. Or disinterested. Focus, man.

“I like them, but they seem a little too ‘Merrell’ for you.”
“Yea, I know what you mean, will you come over to the shoes.”

This could be tedious and boring but much less tedious than traveling with a woman with ugly, painful shoes that are too loose and blister her feet. Worse than that, this problem leads to an unstable ankle that is easily sprained ankle when it gets worse. You can read about that in this post.

She finds another pair that looks better. She could wear these with jeans, and they’d be okay for her “soft autumn” color scheme, and… jeez, I know way too much about this.

The Negotiation

“What do you think of these?”
“I think those look better. They’re cute on you.”
“I think so too!”
“They go better with jeans and the colors you wear.”
“I think so too! But the right one fits, and the left one doesn’t”
“Really? Where?” (My inner bodyworker comes out.)
“It hurts in the arch on the left.”
“Up top here?”
“NO. On the bottom. Right here.” (points to the inside of the foot)
“Oh, that’s a displaced fibular head that creates a trigger point at the base of the first metatarsal.”
“What?”
“Um, I can fix that.”
“I think it’s the shoe.”
“Listen, let me work on your foot for just a second and see if it fits better.”
“No, it’s the shoe.”
“It’d be bad if we wasted money on big shoes that create a blister when traveling.”
“You can’t work on my foot here.”
“Just for a second.” (smile)
“Fine.” (eye roll)

I Got This

When she pointed, I knew the pattern. It is an accessory of the cranial pattern known as lateral strain. That pattern creates an anterior shear in the pelvis, which displaces the fibular head and activates the trigger point. I know this technique well and use it often. I need about 2 minutes to release it.

This is a picture of the technique from my manual. I teach it in my classes. This trigger point in the bottom of the foot is very sensitive and difficult to release without this technique. However, it is effortless and virtually painless to do with this technique. Again, it is about understanding how joints activate and deactivate trigger points.

Meanwhile, Back at REI

I fiddled with her foot and for a second. We laughed about how silly we looked with me holding her leg. Finally, she puts the shoe back on. She got up and walked. Her gait showed that it was better, but I watched her blankly.

“How’s that shoe fitting?” (furrowed brow)
“It’s fine. You fixed it!” (big smile)
“Well, what do you know…” (smile with an eye roll)

Making it Feel Better

I do a lot of work on people’s feet to get rid of acute issues, especially when bad shoes create them. Ahem, sorry. Okay. The shoes aren’t bad, but their behavior is bad. Let’s say that I’ve gotten a lot of women out of pain and back in their expensive shoes by working on their feet. They want those feet to adapt to those cute shoes again. Often, “bad shoes” are actually stiff joints in feet that need a little attention.

Making the Body Self-Correcting.

I really like to fix things by working the craniosacral system. It makes global changes in the system, so it is better at self-correcting. I talk about that in this post. There’s a short video that explains it.

But local work is often the best approach when the problem is acute or the client needs to see that they can get relief. Earlier this year, I had a runner who came in with pain in his knee and hamstring. I spent almost 90 minutes just working on his foot. When I saw him at his restaurant, he ran his marathon and told me he needs to see me work the other foot. Ok.


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Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sees clients. He has written materials and instructed classes since the mid-90s. This includes anatomy, trigger points, cranial, and neuromuscular.

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