All in a Day's Walk

A month-long slow food walking performance

These feet weren’t made for walking… Part II

navicular |nəˈvikyələr|

adjective – (chiefly archaic) boat-shaped
noun1 – (also navicular bone) a boat-shaped bone in the ankle or wrist, esp. that in the ankle between the talus and the cuneiform bones.
noun2 – (also navicular disease or navicular syndrome) a chronic disorder of the navicular bone in horses, causing lameness in the front feet.

ORIGIN late Middle English: from French naviculaire or late Latin navicularis, from Latin navicula ‘little ship’, diminutive of navis.

So I ‘cheat’ on my first day… I drive 8 miles into Hereford city to visit Stephanie Owen, a podiatrist at Kyrle House Practice. She has already fitted me with trial orthotics two weeks ago, but I explain my ongoing discomfort, pain, clicking and bruised sensation on the inside of my left foot which is making walking any distance really uncomfortable. She checks out my ankle joints, assesses my range of movement, draws dotted lines with a biro: a contour map on my foot. She assesses the comparative length of my legs (left is longer). Then she watches me walk up and down the corridor. I seem to thump heavily and make a noise like thunder, but she assures me it’s just the floorboards. I turn back on myself repeatedly, walking lengths like a swimmer. Then, magically, she knows what to do and we go back inside the consulting room.

There’s something quite biomechanically alchemical about it: by building up orthotic material in different places under the foot – wedges and slices and slivers (the language is deliberate – I’m already thinking about food: when she pulls a box of these from her bag I say ‘oh, I thought you were bringing out cake!’), the point at which muscles contract and release in the back or the front of the leg can be altered, alleviating discomfort or imbalance. I should know all this: I started to train as an equine podiatrist (natural hoofcare practitioner) many years ago. But translated to my own legs, it’s different and fascinating. Especially when, with my new orthotics the pain around my navicular bone is immediately relieved. Now at least I can start this project: I can walk to feed myself. I know that not everyone is this fortunate.

Orthotics 2

Orthotics 1

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