After over a year of not running due to shin pain the frustration was getting to me. I'd seen my GP and had NHS physiotherapy, yet still the shin pain persisted.  From running 30+miles a week, I was struggling to run 2 miles without experiencing pain. Even walking was beginning give me shin pain and I was feeling really sad. The physio gave me different exercises to do, but despite persevering, it felt like two steps forward, three steps back. After many months, the physio suggested that I visit a podiatrist and consider some custom orthotics.  

I was warned it may be a costly route, but in fairness, I had already invested much money in physio with no real success, so a shot with a podiatrist felt like a final attempt to fix something that just didn't want to be fixed. And so it was that I arrived in Annette's consulting room for my first appointment.

Slightly nervous, but ever hopeful that this would be the magical fix that no one else could provide. We had a chat about my aches, pains and symptoms, along with the avenues already explored to alleviate them.

Next it was onto the gait scanner. A totally painless process, with the most challenging aspect remembering my left from my right when I was being instructed to walk on the pressure pad!

Once I had been put through my paces I got to look at the very colourful imagery of my feet and how they were functioning. Annette took the time to explain different elements and interpreted the results so that I could understand them. I probably shouldn't have been as surprised as I was to actually see just how out of balance my feet were, but seeing the evidence in techni-colour was a real eye opener. It was no surprise that I was experiencing aches and pains. For the first time in months I actually allowed myself to have some hope that I would be able to run pain free again. Orthotics ordered, I left Annette with a smile on my face.

A short wait (how impatient I was!) and my custom orthotics arrived. A solid affair, seemingly indestructible, they fitted into my shoes and off I went! Annette suggested wearing them a few hours each day to get used to them as I left with a spring in my step and a huge grin. Three hours later I had the orthotics in my trainers and did a 4 mile run. The change was unbelievable. Just like that my feet were more comfortable, my running felt more natural and I wasn't in pain after the first few miles. Less than three months later I ran a half marathon, not a PB (hardly surprising as I had taken a tumble on my mountain bike the week before), but I completed it in a time I was more than happy with. Only months before I had been contemplating withdrawing my entry.

So,almost 8 months on, I'm still loving the orthotics. The shin pain has all but gone and the mileage has been building week on week. Two half marathons booked and a 16 mile race. I can't imagine running without the orthotics now. Even walking in my every day shoes has been revolutionised by the orthotics. I feel like I stand straighter and walk smarter, I certainly feel much more comfortable. Whilst it wasn't a cheap option, I really wish it was something I had explored sooner  it would certainly have reduced the amount spend on private physio.

Annette has provided an excellent service, listening to my despairing fears that I may never run again and then my impatience waiting for the orthotics to arrive Annette has even endured my over excited weekly updates reporting my progress immediately after receiving the orthotics. All in all, for me, a totally worthwhile investment, with a service provided by someone passionate about their job.

Hazel Ford July 2014