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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Shoes, Drop Foot, and MS

I love shoes. I have always loved shoes. I read somewhere that every woman needs to have at least one pair of red shoes in her possession and, being of the straight A mentality, I actually had five pair of red shoes at one time: red Keds, red leather sandals, red pumps, red clogs, and red flip flops. I am not your stereotypical girlie-girl, but I DO like my shoes. And I love expensive shoes, but my interest also gravitates toward style so the thrill of a Saturday BOGO event is not out of the question.

At one time I could not comprehend my colleagues reluctance to wear a nice professional pair of pumps to school. I did. And of course those pumps matched perfectly with purse and skirt. You know, we girls have our priorities.

Then finding the right shoe was exciting. There is nothing more sexy than a female calf pumped up with a 3 inch stiletto.

Well, that was definitely then.

Finding the right shoe for someone with a MS induced drop foot is more than exciting. It's a relief. I no longer have my red Keds, but my closet holds at least four pair of tennis sneakers, more than the average female needs. At least that's what my frugal self tells me. Unfortunately that is not the truth. Each pair of those tennis shoes is comfortable, yes, but not always "good" on a given day. Because I have unpredictable control over my right leg and foot, I never know the perfect shoe weight and support on any given day until I walk around in that shoe for a minute or two. Nike makes a very, very nice light weight sneaker thqat I have only seen at J.C.Penney's. It was pricey but I can lift my foot easily when I wear it. I found that New Balance really laces firmly against my foot and stays in placed well. I like my Ryka's also, but wouldn't rank them #1 for my current level of fitness regime.

Any sandal I wear is most successful if it fastens with Velcro straps so that when my foot decides to travel a path independent of the rest of my body, my shoe doesn't fling itself to parts unknown. Keen and Tyva make wonderful Velcro sandals. My favorite sandal that I wear only for a limited amount of time because it can make your toes a little sore is the Yoga sandal by Toesox.

 The early years in my teaching career found me dressed to the nines (whatever that means) and always fashion forward. My shows always matched my purse, matched my dress, matched my makeup, matched my lunch bag... Even on my limited teacher's salary and with the expense of having my first apartment and a car payment, my professional appearance came first.

As for flip flops, be careful to avoid the little drug store plastic things. I have found that my flip flops need some substance to them and I rarely wear them outside the house. Teva and L.L. Bean make nice heavy flip flips with a wide thong strap.

Forget about pumps and anything with a heel, even boots. Although boots are probably my favorite footwear as soon as the season arrives. You can some how make a boot look dressy even if it doesn't have a fashion heel.

Okay, okay, you are now thinking I have lost my mind and am possibly being paid for this advertisement of foot wear. This also makes me sound like a spoiled rich kid with disdain for anything not having a big name label on it. That's not true. I have just discovered that multiple sclerosis brings with it some expensive adjustments. It is better to spend a little more to be comfortable than to frequent the thrift stores only to find that you truly "get what you paid for". As a school teacher, I don't have a lot of extra cash to throw into my sparse closet, so I instead pay a little more or fewer shoes that I am confident will keep me on my feet.

Exercise is something else that helps my drop foot. Some morning I jump (not really) out of bed ready to tackle a brisk walk around my neighborhood, walking stick at my side. Some mornings there is no doubt that any physical program beyond my living room is just not going to happen. On those days (more the norm than going outside) I pop in one of my many DVDs. Gentle Yoga by Yoga Zone is very non-threatening as is Weight Watcher's Walking Kit DVD with Ellen Barrett. I also like her Prevention Belly Fat walking
DVDs. Leslie Sansone also has a walk at home DVD (5 Day Slim Down) that will get you up and moving.

The Veria network (218 on Dish) has loads of helpful fitness and health tips. I absolutely adore Rock Your Yoga with Sophie, but I cannot always keeps up with her. And that's fine. In fact that is more than fine with any type of exercise. Some of us cannot even begin to entertain a standing, walking regime. That's okay. You can still stretch from your chair. Lift those arms in the air, add some light weights like bottles of water if you don't actually have gymnasium type hand weights. Raise your knees one at a time and practice lengthening the time for each lift. Stretch your leg out front of you for straight leg lifts or bend the leg down from the knee for sets of eight or what ever you can do. Circle your ankles one direction and then the next. Practice Yoga breathing.

You may not notice a change immediately but any type of movement is beneficial. And if you don't think it's working, skip a day and see what happens.

I am not an expert on foot wear or physical therapy. I just know what works for least right now. That's the thing with MS: What works today might not tomorrow. Remember my tennis shoes?

What suggestions can you give us?
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