Sheila Johnson

Feature (word count 728)

8 February 2002

 

THOSE BOOTS WERE MADE FOR WALKING IN

 

Or maybe they weren't. Ill-fitting shoes can lead to bad feet.

 

We rely on our feet to take us places and not being able to walk is something most of us would view with fear or even horror. Few will have to face total disability, but many of us will suffer the temporary inconvenience of painful feet or legs at some time in our lives. Currently 14 million people seek medical advice about them every year.

 

Perhaps it is hardly surprising that so many of us have foot problems when we realise that our feet carry us the equivalent of five times round the earth in an average lifetime!

 

Paul Trickey, who runs the Cotswold centre of Podiatry and Chiropody in Cheltenham. believes that poor foot function is,

 

"The cause of so many problems such as knee pains, back pains and sports injuries."


Many of these problems require the treatment of a foot specialist but there is some confusion over what these specialists call themselves, with the title of Podiatrist increasingly being displayed alongside that of Chiropodist.

 

The terms Chiropody and Podiatry are interchangeable and practitioners can be referred to by either title. But whereas some Chiropodists might just practice simple foot care such as dealing with Corns, Callouses, Hammer Toes or Nail Clipping, Paul Trickey, as a State Registered Podiatrist is trained in biomechanics or the scientific study of the way in which we walk or run.

 

Your feet normally roll slightly inwards and then outwards as you walk. If they do either excessively then your feet cannot function properly. So the back pain you've been complaining about may have its origins in your feet.

 

Steve Cahill, a Geography teacher at the Dean Close School in Cheltenham went to see Mr Trickey because he was experiencing twinges in his back. Since being fitted with the custom made insoles, officially known as orthoses, he said the treatment had been very successful.

 

He said, "I can tell when I don't wear the insoles. I experience twinges in my muscles and walking is uncomfortable."

 

These corrective orthoses are moulded by Mr Trickey to fit the shape of each individual foot.

 

Anne Kesterton first contacted Mr Trickey last October. She had agreed to do a 50-60 mile sponsored walk for the Children's Society over the rough, hilly terrain of Nepal.

 

During her training she was worried that when walking she was getting a lot of aches and pains in her heel and the ball of her foot. Mr Trickey analysed her foot function and designed some custom made orthoses for her feet. These helped the weight of her body to be more evenly distributed so taking the pressure off her ball and heel.

 

Mrs Kesterton said that after the treatment she felt she was,

 

"walking on cushions!"

 

Although she did 6-7 hours of strenuous walking every day for over a week she said that she did not experience sore feet and was one of the only ones in the party not to suffer from blisters! Thanks to Paul Trickey's treatment she was able to go on to raise over £5000 for the charity.

 

But you don't need to be a long distance charity walker or an athlete to benefit from Mr Trickey's expertise.

 

Geoff Wyatt is a sixth form pupil at Balcarras School in Cheltenham. Before he went to see Mr Trickey his Achilles tendon at the back of his ankle used to hurt a lot when he was walking. He has had no problems at all since being assessed and fitted with orthoses.

 

Paul explained that anyone can set up as a Chiropodist or Podiatrist without any training but only State registered practitioners are recognised by the Department of Health and the National Health Service.

 

The training for State Registration entails a three year full-time degree course at a School of Podiatric Medicine. He said that it is always important to ensure that the letters SRCh or DpodM are displayed after the name of any specialist you consult. A list of qualified practioners can be found on the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrist's website at www.feetforlife.org/findchir.htm

 

Don't let those boots walk all over you and spoil your feet. Get those aches and pains checked out and you too could be walking on air.

 

END