In clinic with: Michelle Gailey, Australian Professional Triathlete
Michelle’s life revolves around training and competing in triathlons. Chronic foot and ankle pain was not going to prevent her from doing what she loved. But the pain was preventing her from full training load and reaching her full potential. Furthermore, the pain was a constant frustration and reminder that further damage was occurring with continued activity.
Michelle is an incredibly strong runner, and her fast run times, combined with her great swim and ride, have lead her to claim victory in many races, including 1st place in the 2012 Australian Ironman event. In this event she smashed out a blistering marathon run time of 3:08. Needless to say this is the fastest ever women’s run time and will be an extremely difficult run time for anyone to ever beat.
Michelle could not afford lengthy time away from running and was tired of training and racing injured and in severe pain. She had previously received treatment for the heel pain, however it was unsuccessful, so she believed it would be a problem forever. Her career and success as a professional triathlete depended on complete and fast recovery.
(1) constant pain under the right heel (2years),
(2) pain at the back of both heels and
(3) pain around the outside of her feet (a few months).
A complete athlete screening and biomechanical assessment was conducted to:
• Evaluate the lower extremity musculoskeletal system to,
• Locate existing areas of injury, and
• look at patho-mechanics.
These assessments indicated muscles, which were inactive, weak or tight, and brought to light her running gait issues.
(1) Chronic insertional plantar fasciosis of the right foot.
(2) Bilateral Achilles tendinopathy and,
(3) Peroneal tendinopathy.
We were able to determine that her injuries were developing due to a combination of issues including:
• Unsupportive footwear,
• Weakness in the gluteal and core muscles and Achilles tendon,
• Tightness in the calf muscles,
• Excessive pronation in the foot due to a compensation mechanism, and
• Excessive straining on the peroneal tendons due to the unstable foot.
A thorough and individualized management plan was developed; this included:
• No-running period; followed by a slow run building phase,
• A specific strengthening and stretching program,
• Supportive strapping,
• Compression foot sleeves,
• Custom made foot orthoses,
• Footwear education and referral,
• Running gait assessment and feedback.
It took 2 months for the pain levels to gradually reduce from around 9/10 (at it’s most painful) down to 0/10. Her running distance and speed also gradually increased over time. Her strength and mobility also improved over time to enable her to run more efficiently, with reduced loading rate and prevent recurrence of injury.
Michelle was overwhelmed with happiness with the results of feeling NO PAIN! She had forgotten what it was like to train pain pain-free.
Don’t let pain or injury prevent you from participating in or competing in sports. Book in for an appointment with Central Podiatry to get you back to doing what you love- Pain free!