Hi, my name is Eloise and I was born with talipes in both of my feet. I have had multiple operations, and I was in and out of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London from birth until the age of 12. I had all of my shoes made for me by the hospital, and I was advised to avoid participating in sports. Whilst at school I was not able to participate in cross-country runs, and I had to ice my feet after standing up for long periods of time. I am now 25 years old and I have osteoarthritis in both of my feet and ankles. My Achilles tendons have multiple tears, and I am constantly in a lot of pain as a result of my feet being fixed from all of the surgery. I take painkillers when I can’t sleep at night, and ice and rest as regularly as possible.
However, I didn’t really take on the advice about sport and exercise, and it has always been a huge part of my life. I was involved with gymnastics from a young age, and when it got too much for my feet I switched from training to coaching. I competed in competitions, and I also went on to become chair of our Gymnastics club whilst at University. I also studied Sports Science and qualified as a Personal Trainer. I climbed Kilimanjaro for charity, and I have recently signed up for my first 10km race. My hope is that one day I will run the London Marathon to raise money for Great Ormond Street, as a thank you for the opportunities they have given me.
I’m sharing my story because despite the problems and limitations associated with this condition, there is still so much that you can do. I refuse to give up doing the things I love doing just because of my feet. Instead I work really hard to ensure that they can cope as best as possible. The things I have found most effective, which I hope will help you too, are:
• Stretching, yoga, foam rolling, Pilates
• Strengthening the calf muscles (weighted heel raises are great)
• Physiotherapy and Sports Massage
• Ultrasound therapy to reduce scar tissue
• Ice and ice baths
• Corrective rehabilitation
• Gait analysis and biomechanical corrections
And last but not least, determination. It’s not easy to live with, and I completely understand how the severity of the pain can make you want to do nothing but lie in bed watching TV. My main message is don’t give up. Lead with your heart instead of your feet, and keep placing one foot in front of the other. Don’t believe that you can’t do something that you want to do, and aim for new goals and challenges. And if anyone doubts you, prove them wrong. I hope this helps you find your feet!
All the best,