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Hello Mark and/or Janet -
>...I think my left heel tends to slip off the orthotic a bit
>and I end up getting a badly bruised heel....
Both my heels tended to feel bruised as I got to the end of both of my
thru-hikes. I finally broke down and went to the bone doc after the second
hike and was given some very interesting information.
Apparently I have a naturally high arch and my boots had relatively flat
footbeds. Short hikes (week or so) were no problem in the past because the
arch support in the boots was enough to provide most of the support needed.
The doc explained that my feet expanded on both long hikes because they
were "flattening out" as the hundreds of miles were piled on month after
month. The new "flat" shape was not particularly "right" for my body and
as a result I had a lot of low-grade inflammation for months. Apparently
this inflammation tends to change the pH balance in that part of the body
and one result is to allow calcium to precipitate out of where it hides in
the meat, juice, and bones of my lower leg.
For me, this calcium precipitated into little pads at the base of both
heels (on the back, about an inch up from the bottom). I can feel both
pads and they show up fine and dandy on an x-ray. Both are tender as all
get out...feels just like a bruise! I have been using orthotics since last
fall and my arch has quickly returned to normal...but the calcium pads
aren't going away! I can't walk more than 8-10 miles without getting sore
heels and any pack weight slows me down even quicker <f>. I don't have a
clue about how to get rid of these pesky pads. I am thinking about trying
to find an ultra-marathon runner's mailing list and seeing if this sort of
thing shows up in their sport.
I don't mean to make your heel problems sound any more complicated than
they probably are, but I doubt that I would have realized that I had my pad
problem unless somebody rubbed my nose in it by showing me an x-ray <g>. I
thought that I was simply just bruising my heels somehow.
Good luck on your quest for the perfect fitting boot at the perfect price!