Hi there! My name is Gary Turner and I reside in Denver,CO. I was glad to find your site and would like to share my story, too. I’m 29 and an only child who was born with a severely clubbed right foot. My left foot was also clubbed but it was only the tendons. The right foot was the more severe bone deformity version of a club foot (Equinovarus). I have a smaller right calf, but through avid bicycling and kung fu training it has more strength and flexibility than when I was younger. I also have a cousin who is now 13 years old who was born with a left clubfoot. Surgeries have been a part of my life and I even work in a hospital now “returning the favor”. I had what appears to be some abs on my hands and toes, similar to little Evan. Doctors told my family I wouldn’t live past 6 months and that I’d be mentally retarded. But here I am, still hard to kill and going for my third college diploma!
It was difficult growing up. That made me a stronger individual today, though. There was plenty of physical pain and still is. Socially, it made things difficult being the kid who walked funny. I still managed a 7:12 mile but could hardly walk for three days afterwards. I can also tell you segregation and discrimination is still alive and well in the South. I hung out with the other “outcasts” in school. Archaic Victorian thinking is a carryover from Europe and it’s still very much a part of culture in the South. After a while, I just found other stuff to do rather than trying to fit in with everybody else that didn’t get along well in the first place. I found friends who accepted me for who I am, and rejection from the mainstream was part of that journey. Our uniqueness makes us special and not less than anyone else.
I did well in basketball for a few years but a better fit was cycling, kung fu, weight lifting, and racing. It’s good to keep active, even if it isn’t smearing the competition all over a football field. I think the pain that comes from clubbed feet makes individuals better fighters, smarter, and more adaptable individuals. Adversity and adaptation becomes a part of our lives and virtually second nature. Custom hard-sole orthotics helped more than I could ever describe. I still trash shoes every three months but I’m quite active in the first place and hate sitting still.
Exercise and nutrition:
I’ve found something very much worth sharing with all of you. I wasn’t always an exercise nut. I still don’t qualify as a gym rat, either. I ride (with clipless pedals and shoe orthotics) 75-100 miles on a bicycle. This coupled with weight training has helped increase my clubbed foot strength. What really surprised me was taking protein mix a couple to three times a day. I have packed on another inch in diameter on my clubbed foot’s calf in this crazy 90 day experiment I did. I’m now in my second 90 days, lifting more weight and going farther. My stopping point was my pain threshold. That has diminished and I can push farther much more comfortably.
Conditioning and weight training can go a long way for us. Strengthening tendons and ligaments requires a low stress, high repetition exercise anyway. That’s not ideal for putting on muscle like weights, but “max muscle” isn’t the point. We can still exercise our legs and get good results that help our joint stability, balance, and strength. I do “resistance biking”, where I use a mountain bike with partially deflated tires to add extra resistance. (Parents, it may be a wonderful excuse to bike with your clubfoot kids!) I also have a rowing machine. Working the legs and lower back are very important for lower body strength.
Nutritional supplements. Straight up. :
I believe Apexx Fit Supreme has helped my muscles and tendons become stronger. It’s a whey protein sold at 24hr fitness for about $30/tub. I drink a lot of 2% and skim milk because of it which also provides calcium. I also take a multi-vitamin, C, D, E, and glucosamine/chondroitin with MSM every night before bedtime. Our bodies repair themselves when we sleep. I don’t wake up with my feet bound and hurting like I used to, either.
I’ll go out on a limb and say a portion of you may not get sick very often because of your clubbed foot. The long term pain reaction kicks in our immune systems. Some kinds of arthritis and inflammation issues are caused by an overactive immune system that attacks the joints instead of rebuilding them. I gave it “tools” with the supplements and protein mixes. This appears to be working.
I haven’t had running legs since childhood. All of this crazy experimentation I did on myself is working. No steroids to build muscle have entered my body. I have virtually stopped taking tylenol, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium.
Training like an athlete may be the key to leaving our pain behind. We have an effective arsenal of widely available tools at this time in history to non-invasively treat club footed ailments. That has never existed.