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Feel the fear

Since first injuring my feet on a Duke of Edinburgh's Award hike in 1984 I have had to be aware of what triggers the foot pain because it can be crippling.

Initially I had to find really comfortable shoes, not pretty or fashionable ones. Ecco were the best choice in those days but they had an extremely limited range then! Nowadays if I need top comfort and support I favour Adidas 'Boost'.

Then I had to be careful of what I did, so, no standing jobs, limited physical exercise, not carrying heavy things etc - it was very frustrating.

Ultimately, over the decades, I figured out lots of ways of helping myself - stretching, massage, ice, taping etc - a vast spectrum of pain management techniques.

The pain was by no means constant, providing I was careful. By the time I did my 3 year training course in teaching the Alexander technique I was virtually pain free. In fact, the intensive nature of the course meant I was 'using' myself so efficiently I was able to take up dancing.

The Alexander technique gradually helped me to understand that my foot pain was triggered by my emotional states, causing, or caused by, muscular tension. My management of the problem became more and more effective as my knowledge expanded.

Now I can avoid the pain even if I am tired, stressed, depressed, ill, rushed or physically burdened. I dance, wear nice shoes, exercise and my feet are rarely a problem. It has taken me over 30 years, which may sound terrible, but isn't to me. Using the Alexander technique has been a way of life for me and managing foot pain has been a small but significant part of that.

So far this year my feet have hurt twice, and only for a few days at a time. I would describe the problem as a worrying discomfort rather than a pain. And the brilliant part is that I quickly realised what had triggered it: fear. Both episodes were triggered by events that anyone would have found a bit scary or threatening.

Although we might try, none of us can entirely avoid the negative stuff in life. I'm optimistic that learning to feel fear but avoid the muscular reaction to it that leads to my foot pain will be my next big breakthrough:)

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