Hello Everyone. I am the sea – its a nickname that everyone calls me. I’ll share with you my story (so far)
I have just turned 20 years old. I was born with a left club foot and had surgery to correct it within the first few weeks of living. I still have all the casts and ‘memorabilia’ my mum has kept from that time.
Growing up, having a club foot didn’t bother me – both in everyday life and athletically. I have always played sports such as football and american football to a decent level without any problems, no limps, no visual difference, just one foot smaller then the other.
It wasn’t until one day walking back to the changing rooms at 14 years old after a football match someone brought it up to me that I had one calf smaller than the other. Up until this point, its something I actually forgot i had, because I had been so active.
I started physio at 15. The physiotherapists gave me some basic exercises to do to strengthen my legs, which I did infrequently. I also had inner soles to help me with the imbalance of the hip and leg length difference. But my physio sessions were soon cut (I got them for free from the NHS before, but my doctor had stopped referring me).
Around 17, I began to notice a big difference. My normal right calf muscle was growing much faster than the left. At this time to I was playing american football very competitively and training kickboxing. Although these sports are very physical, I had no trouble from them – no trouble that impacted my leg. But in the back of my mind, I knew that I had to get some help otherwise I am at risk of being seriously injured if something was to go wrong and in the long run I would be at a disadvantage to my opponents.
I asked my GP for help but she assured me this couldn’t be corrected. I will always have a calf smaller than the other. I begged her to refer to me the physio, but I was referred to podiatry instead. When i had the appointment I again asked for some advice. Same thing, nothing can be done. “Try calf raises, but it probably won’t make a difference”. I felt like the advice from the doctor and podiatry was weak, nothing constructive or actionable I could use. i’m sure there was something I can do.
Again I just continued to kickbox and play sports. I even trained muay thai for a while in Thailand. But I couldn’t help but notice that I would be at a major disadvantage if I was to compete.
I eventually found another physio pivately. I had a session last week and he has devised a program to strengthen my leg and calf. He is hopeful that the leg will strengthen (maybe not as big as the normal right leg though). I was advised to quit training kickboxing and martial arts because it may damage my leg and the recovery for that will be difficult.
For me, as an athlete and a highly competitive person, being told I cannot compete and give up hurts. It really sucks. Its not easy for me to just quit martial arts. Its the way I express myself, just like a musician plays music or an artist draws.
My goal is to compete at a high level. It may be ‘hard’, maybe slightly unrealistic, but i have no doubt in my mind that I will attain my goal. I need to build my leg up so that not only will I not be at a disadvantage, I will be preventing serious injuries in the future. I am highly motivated and its something I think about all the time. I have urges to train my leg 24/7 but I also remember recovery is just as important.
So this is my journey to strengthening my leg so I am able to begin training properly once again and eventually compete. AT the moment I have put kickboxing / muay thai on hold and will begin another martial art that doesn’t involve direct use of my legs. I will keep this updated to hold myself accountable.
If anyone has any advice on leg strengthening, or have gone through this themselves, please message me I would love to learn more.