|Tandeming out in Motueka Valley|
For those of you who want to know the story of my foot pain: read on. For those who don't cut to the next paragraph. Touring back in the early 1990's I developed this intense pain, I had no idea what it was and the only way to combat it was to walk into rivers, dunk my feet in fish ponds and village fountains. The cold water obviously reduced swelling and therefore the pain. The pain got worse, I used to stop on the side of the road and pour water from my drink bottle on them then massage them, more years past and I called the pain my 'screaming feet' as I was resorted to standing on the side of the road, my body shaking in pain, lifting one foot then the other and screaming. I had to limit my daily distance to around 60 kms a day instead of 100 kms. Still the pain increased, and I started to put on weight, due to the lack of exercise. When I put on more weight than I was happy with, I had had enough and went to the Doctor. "What do you want me to do about it" she said. Can I at least get some x- rays to check for Arthritis? I had x-rays - they didn't show anything. Try a Podiatrist she suggested. I went to one, I had Moretons Nueroma [An inflammed Nerve], and I badly pronated inwards and had no flexibilty in the bone joints, I ended up with insoles and the promise that Anti-inflammatory injections would help, but I was only ever allowed 2 at the most. I saved that injection for the US trip and miracles of miracles - no pain. 3 months later back it came, I decided to go to a Foot Doctor. More x-rays from every angle imaginable, and an MRI scan, and special shoe insoles, and Physio to gain flexiblity. No I didn't have Moretons Nueroma but Metatarsil Algia. Basically my Metatarsils are too long, and my 'knuckles' under the ball of the foot protrudes and it's like walking with a large stone in your shoes. This 'stone' or protruding knuckle swells, and as you get older your padding on the bottom of the foot thins, so the pain is more and more intense. Unfortunately cycling puts compression on this point as you push on the pedals especially in shoes that clip in to pedals. Remedy: none. There is an operation to 'shave ' the knuckle, but the surgeon is reluctant to do it because " I wouldn't get the result I want".
I didn't give up on cycling and tried to find ways of coping with the pain, I've been taking Anti-inflammatories every day, just so that i could carry on exercising. Then I worked it out in my head, I can't eliminate the compression, but I can limit it by not using my clip in pedals. I was reluctant to try ordinary pedals as they are so inefficient, then inspiration went off in my head like a light bulb, what about using them in conjuction with a flat surface. I had some mountain bike pedals that were clip in on one side and flat on the other. Oh my god, I couldn't believe it, for the first time I can cycle properly without any pain, infact the swelling has reduced so much I don't need Anti - inflammatories, I am so happy - I could cry.
For any one with a similar problem: Clip in to your pedals going up hill when you need the pulling power, Unclip on the down hill and use the flat side, also do this when the going is easy. Then clip in one pedal and unclip the other one, and alternate feet to keep any compression to a minimun. I've got my life back - yahoo.