by Bob Longworth MSc DPodM

It’s not every day that a patient says: “I’m off to walk across the Antarctic and I need insoles to stop my feet from blistering”. She then threw in “I’m off in 2 weeks and won’t be able to try them out until I’m there”

Steph is part of ‘Inspire22’ – a multi-disciplinary team expedition to cross the Antarctic by foot. 50 days of pulling everything behind you on a sleigh for 10-15 miles a day with guides to keep you on the right path (as there are no real landmarks to speak of) and stop you falling down hidden crevasses. No baths, maybe one change of clothes, not leaving anything behind (poo bags at the ready) and the same boots all day every day.

She brought in the boots she would be wearing, which were unlike anything I’d seen before and talked me through the gait technique she would be adopting on the ice, which again was new to me.

The problem she usually has with her feet when doing ultramarathons (she’s quite a lass!) is blistering where she overloads her forefoot, a consequence of a high arched profile to her feet. I knew I could sort her out in regular footwear with regular gait but this…..this was very different.

What to do?

Well, thankfully the treatment protocols we adopt at ‘Podiatry Clinics Yorkshire Ltd’ means that you don’t need to have seen a certain set of criteria before, in order to successfully treat. If you allow your patient to tell their side of the story (a good history), can identify the injured tissue (a diagnosis) and work out what’s happening to cause that particular tissue to be stressed too much (a mechanism of injury), then assuming the problem is mechanical and not a systemic issue, we should be able to help

I used these principles with Steph and produced some insoles designed to off load where she gets blisters and even out the pressures under her foot. I did wonder if there was enough room in the boots for them so my parting advice was “Comfort is king – if they don’t feel right, don’t wear them!”

I have been following the expedition blogs on Instagram and Facebook with bated breath, wondering how she is getting on.

Today she posted:

What a relief!

The only literature I’ve been able to find about foot orthoses and skiing has been limited to Alpine and Downhill skiers. Perhaps the next Antarctic trip could take along a Podiatrist to research what’s really going on in those boots. As he loves snowboarding, can I nominate Lee….?