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Can finding it hard/almost impossible to find foot wear that fits be TMS?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Calum, Jan 31, 2023.

  1. Calum

    Calum Peer Supporter

    Hi all,

    I've had a long absence from the forum since completely curing myself of RSI back in 2014 using the Sarno Method. Life got in the way and I gradually forgot about TMS and the forum until recently. A summary of my story is as follows:

    - 2011-2013 had RSI in my wrists and sore neck, back and shoulders

    -2014 Cured all of the above using the Sarno method, the structured program on here, support from you guys (thanks) and going to see a TMS trained physio Georgie Oldfield in the UK .

    -2015 I'm a rock climber, after a year of no TMS symptoms (or so I thought, more on this later) I hurt my finger rock climbing (thought it was structural), then hurt the same finger on my other hand, again thought it was structural, nethier improved with rest/physio/steriod injections etc. Also started to get knee pain while hiking around this time.

    -2016 Got orthotics for the knee pain, which don't help, then develop an ankle pain where I start to think that I can't wear most shoes, end up in flip flops a lot. Towards the end of the year start to get base of foot pain from the orthotics (I stop using them), fingers still sore and can't go rock climbing.

    -2017 Get an MRI and ultra fine resolution ultrasound on sore ankle and fingers, these show there is nothing wrong. I go to see Georgie Oldfield and she tells me my fingers and ankles are fine too. I start to rock climb and hike again. It hurts a lot, particularly the climbing, but I start really easy and build it up.

    -2018, 2019, 2020. I'm still hiking and climbing, I get triggered at the start of the rock climbing season every year, but this tends to go away and I can climb. In the back of my mind though I'm worrying about how well my feet fit my hiking trainers and boots. I can do about 20km, but then get pain after.

    Since 2014 I've have trouble finding shoes/trainers/hiking boots that really fit properly, I've always assumed this is a structural issue as I've been told I've got narrow ankles with a wide low volume forefoot, one foot longer and narrower than the other and collapsed arches.

    In fustration I decide to find someone to make me a made to measure pair of hiking boots. During this search I find a company called Foot Solutions in Glasgow, they don't do made to measure boots, but do orthotics I go for an appointment, get told I've got the worst feet ever and that I should be in loads of pain in my knee and back due to collapsed arches (although I have neither). I buy a pair of orthotics and tell myself I'll just use them to try and get hiking boots/trainers to fit my feet better and ignore all the stuff about knees and backs.

    -2021 Using the orthotics my hiking trainers appear to fit better and I do some long hikes with them, still rock climbing no TMS symptoms (unless finding that footwear does not fit is a symptom) apart from sore throat due to acid reflux. Also have made to measure boots made. At the end of 2021 my wife and I have a baby, after baby is born I get the worse reoccurence of rock climbing finger pain since 2015, tell myself it's TMS and get through it. Then the ice climbing boots I've always used since 2014 start to hurt the front of my lower shins/upper ankles when I walk, even causing something that could be a bruise. I panic and reduce/stop ice climbing.

    -2022 After stopping ice climbing, the hiking trainers that I'd been using with the orthotics from Foot Solutions start to feel uncomfortable. This is a severe problem as I wanted to use them to do a long hiking route that summer with my brother called the Cuillin Ridge. I go back to Foot Solutions and they say my feet have changed and the arches have collapsed more and give me updated orthotics.

    I go and try to force myself to do the Cuillin Ridge despite having a lot of doubts and worry about foot pain from the hiking trainers feeling uncomfortable, but have a panic attack at holiday accommodation. After this we decide I'm in no fit state of mind to do the Cuillin Ridge.

    My made to measure boots are finally ready, but they are causing discomfort in the same place my winter hiking boots were. Then lastly towards the end of the year I start getting base of foot pain from the second pair of Orthotics provided by Foot Solutions. I stop using the orthotics and swear off them for life.

    I also get the fronts of the ankles/lower shins looked at my a tms trained physio, who says they are fine. I must still have doubts though as I find it hard to get out in my ice climbing boots and can feel pain when I do.

    This year I also start seeing a TMS trained psychotherapist.

    -2023 I'm at the point where I can't seem to hike more than 10km or so (sometimes less) without discomfort or pain from the hiking trainers or boots that I am wearing, including some very nicely padded made to measure boots. I can't seem to find casual trainers or formal shoes that fit well either.

    I'm starting to think this is TMS and it has been a TMS symptom that has gradually gotten worse and worse since 2014. I think this idea of shoes needing to be a perfect fit or causing problems was planted by my Dad who told me this when hiking boot shopping as a child. I think it has gotten worse and worse to this stage, because I keep getting rid of other symptoms (e.g. finger pain from rock climbing is at it's most mild yet) and because I have a baby (which can be super stressful). I've also moved house and both my wife and I have moved jobs in the last year. My current workplace is looking at a round of redundancies.

    I'm still stubbornly going out on hikes especially hiking out to rock climbs, but my confidence to go further than 10km has taken a real knock. I'm also really anxious each time before I go out, with the worry starting days in advance.

    Has anyone else ever found that TMS made it hard to find footwear that fits well? Even if I do genuinely have difficult feet, there shouldn't be this much pain and discomfort just because a pair of hiking boots does not fit 100% right?

    Thanks and regards,

  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hey @Calum, and sorry to be welcoming you back.

    All of these symptoms seem to be custom-designed for you and your particular dependency on your feet to engage in an activity that you love, and long-standing concerns over proper footwear. And as I've always said, the TMS mechanism is reeeally skilled at finding customized symptoms for people, especially ones that are very particular to their personal fears, and/or ones that can't be compared with other people, which of course creates enormous doubt that TMS can be the cause.

    This all screams TMS to me.

    Here's a totally off-the-top-of-my-head suggestion, which goes back to a free-writing exercise I remember doing from the SEP. Why not write an "Unsent Letter" to your father, telling him about your struggles, and starting out by relating them to that early admonition about shoes? Remember, this is a letter that you will destroy after writing, so don't edit it, don't worry about penmanship or grammar, and above all, don't hold back - just keep writing whatever pops into your mind, no matter how strange or off-topic or especially how uncomfortable it might feel. Avoidance is the TMS mechanism, so be brave and write it all down anyway.

    Whatever is going on is undoubtedly emotional at its core, since you've been cleared physiologically. Don't forget to have compassion for yourself as you do this, and also don't forget that outside world stressors didn't just start in March 2020 - they've been affecting many of us for a number of years before then.
    TG957, hecate105 and Ellen like this.
  3. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think it is very important that you made the connection to what your father said to you about hiking shoes and your problems finding the right fit. Also, having a child is stressful as you say, but it can also bring up our own childhoods and a whole host of repressed issues. It's good that you're working with a TMS therapist, and I'm sure you're discussing these issues.

    I think when we become fixated on a problem associated with our TMS, whether it's perfect fitting shoes or finding the right pillow or mattress for sleeping, etc., I remember Dr. Sarno's advice about medication. "Take it if it seems to help." I think we can become obsessed with not doing something that is fairly benign, as we are trying too hard to be perfect. I remember the saying "what we resist persists". So I think just make the decision that brings you the most peace of mind, and live your life. If that means getting specially made shoes, then so be it. Just keep working on TMS with your therapist, and there will come a time when you don't even think about your shoes or feet. Let it unfold.
    TG957, JanAtheCPA and hecate105 like this.
  4. hecate105

    hecate105 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Another point to consider is - are you stressing about the footwear and hiking in order to cover up what you are really stressed about? Are you unable to face some part of your life - whether that be the huge responsibility of having a child, dissatisfaction at work, problem in a family relationship.... the link with your Father could be telling.... (literally!) are you in fact worried about being a Dad yourself? Itis worth putting some honest thought into all areas of your life to see if anything chimes for you.... the footwear could be avoidance strategy....! good luck
    TG957, Ellen and JanAtheCPA like this.
  5. Calum

    Calum Peer Supporter

    Hi JanAtheCPA, thanks for you're reply. I sent a few unsent letters to get rid of the RSI pain, so yes that is a good idea. I'm also trying the Dan Ratner Columns method to crush my doubts around the discomfort and acheyness. I've been very symptomatic today, as well as being very on edge. Likely because I'd organised to go ice climbing this weekend and was worrying about whether to go or not because of the symptoms. I actually went for a "test walk" in my ice climbing boots (which I promised myself I wouldn't do, but couldn't seem to resist). I had symptoms, but they were no worse than before when I was walking around the house in socks. Turns out I won't be ice climbing this weekend as it is going to be too warm, but it was an encouraging walk even though I was in a fair bit of pain.

    I'm trying to have compassion for myself, but I'm so sick of tms symptoms, they or the anxiety around them make me feel like I'm not living my life to the fullest. I feel that they hold me back and have actually stolen time from me. I'm 34 now and actually worried about aging and not being able to do the things I want to do, not having time to fit it all in.
    TG957 likes this.
  6. Calum

    Calum Peer Supporter

    Hi Ellen,

    Thank you for your reply, I am going to move forward and get the made to measure boots and shoes tweaked until they feel comfortable. One of the reasons I actually thought this could be TMS is that they are still uncomfortable (or I percieve them to be) even though they are measured and designed for my feet.

    Loads of stuff about my childhood is coming up which I'm working through with my therapist, it also puts pressure on me though as I don't want to repeat the same things my dad did.
  7. Calum

    Calum Peer Supporter

    Hi hecate105, thanks for your reply. I'm aware that I am dissatisfied at work (I'm actually dissatisfied with the fact I have to work), I know on a concious level that I will be feeling some rage at the responsibility of having a child, but have been unsuccessful in really feeling this so far. Also the stuff about my dad I've been working through with a therapist. I feel like I don't spend enough time thinking about all of the above though, either because I'm so busy or because I'm worrying about my feet, and I'm usually worrying about my feet because something immediate is coming up like hiking or climbing plans at the weekend. I also didn't think it was TMS for years so need to start readjusting my thought process to crush doubts around that and think emotional when it crops up. It's just so fustrating.
  8. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Calum, I too had a variety of foot issues, some were TMS, but wide feet and narrow ankles, just like yours, are not. Incidentally, I am a hiker too (not a climber). A lot of what you describe sounds like TMS. I had an episode with painful foot before and at a start of a 19-day hike. By day 4, my neuropathy was gone. I guess a 30 lb backpack and 12 miles a day was a cure :=).

    But for narrow ankles, I found a cure, having earned my wisdom by way of huge blisters. Double socks were not enough to prevent them! I finally started wrapping my heels with elastic tape. Now I cut the tops off old socks and wear them over my heels on top of regular socks. Works like a charm, keeps ankles stable and tight inside the shoes.
  9. Calum

    Calum Peer Supporter

    Hi TG957, thanks for your reponse, great to here about your experience as a fellow hiker! Weirdly I've never had a problem with blisters, despite having narrow ankles and a wide forefoot (which I know isn't TMS), although could collapsed arches be TMS? This makes my forefeet even wider. The problem I have is my heel and ankles flap around all over the place if I size shoes for my forefeet. This has always been an issue, but the increasing sensitivity and soreness especially in boots and shoes that used to fit well is making me think that I've got a TMS issue here.

    How do you stop the tops of old socks slipping down out of place?

    Do you have a success story on here? I'd love to read it. Your anacdote about the 19 day hike is inspiring. I've never had the confidence to do a hike that long as I always thought that my footwear didn't fit well enough.
    TG957 likes this.
  10. LittleWildflower

    LittleWildflower Newcomer

    I’ve just read about something very similar in The Great Pain Deception.

    The example given was from a woman who could only wear one particular pair of shoes as the others left her in agony. But basically it was a fear/belief/conditioning issue, she had simply trained herself to believe other shoes caused pain. To overcome she said she wore her other ‘painful’ shoes every day for longer and longer periods, rewarding herself each time. Eventually they stopped hurting as she reconditioned herself.

    So no personal experience but hopefully a helpful anecdote.
    miffybunny and TG957 like this.
  11. Calum

    Calum Peer Supporter

    Hi LittleWildFlower, thanks for responding, I've read the GPD, but can't remember that particularl story. I'll have to go back and re-read it. Thank you =)
  12. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    To answer your first question, I use old heavy wool socks, specifically the ones from REI, they are thick and don't stretch easily. They hug my heels from ankle to arch, like a sleeve, it works very well.

    For the second question, I do have a success story posted on Success Stories subforum, but feet were (and are) the least of my problems.

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