Almost every day, Adrian Woolley – director of the Fane Clinic – sees patients with foot pain, ankle pain, knee pain, hip pain, back pain and neck pain which can often be attributed to faulty foot posture. As the Perkins Great Eastern Run approaches and many are training harder or running seriously for the first time, The Moment talks to him about using biomechanics to diagnose and pre-empt issues, and how orthotics can help
Most of us probably don’t think about our feet very much. Should we be giving them more consideration?
Your feet do an awful lot of work every day, and people tend to ignore them until they start getting pain. What we do here is rather than just look at the symptom – and it’s often someone who has a symptom that has been going on a long time, and have perhaps already been treated for it – we look for the cause, and the cause is often the foot, or the foot’s position. Basically, the foot is designed to absorb shock and push off as a rigid lever, and if it doesn’t do either of those properly – if, for example, there is over pronation (where the foot collapses or rolls in too much) or supination (where it rolls out to much) – then somewhere on the body will pay the price for that.
Is this what you call biomechanics – looking at the body as a whole?
Yes, exactly. The biomechanics side of things is a passion of mine, and is something we’ve been doing now for about twenty years. Actually, I can often see where patients might have pain even before I have asked them what the problem is, just from the way they walk into the clinic and treatment room. But I really do enjoy solving those problems for people. We often get children coming in either because they’re in pain or because mum and dad have noticed something in their gait that seems awkward. It may be that their feet are flat, which means they’re not absorbing any shock, but by correcting that we’re not only getting them out of pain, we’re looking after their joints and hopefully avoiding the need for orthotic assistance when they’re older.
Obviously you deal with a lot of sports injuries, but can someone’s problem be as simple as them wearing the wrong shoes?
Most people think we’re symmetrical, but both sides are always different, either because of the way we’re born or because of our job or lifestyle. This applies to the feet too, and can cause issues when footwear is prescribed, because what’s correct for one foot may not be for the other. I saw someone the other day who’d had a very successful knee replacement but they they’d been getting back pain on the other side, and when I measured their leg length I found they were an inch and a half out. You can imagine what that does!
How do you solve issues such as this?
Basically we use orthotics to reposition the foot so it is working as it should. ‘Orthotics’ is really just word for things that help the body work better – so, for example, glasses are orthotics for eyes. In our case, they are prescription footbeds that are made for me in a lab in Barcelona based on 3D imaging that I provide. The footwear into which these fit is obviously an important consideration. I often recommend Liz at Zebedee’s on Oundle road for children’s shoes as she is experienced in fitting shoes with orthotics and has been to the clinic to see what we do on several occasions. I also have an official link with Hotters in Queensgate where Danielle and her team can, amongst other things, provide a good range of sandals for our prescription footbeds which solve the problem of what to wear in the summer.
You get people from all around the country traveling to you. Is it purely this expertise that draws them?
I think there are three main reasons why. First, we do a free assessment, while many places charge £100 plus. Second, we do a money-back guarantee on all adult orthotic prescriptions, so if the treatment doesn’t work, you’ll get 100% of your money back. I don’t prescribe to anybody I can’t help. And third, we’ve built up that good reputation. Word of mouth is very important.
So, if someone is starting training for the Perkin Great Eastern Run, for example, come for a check – even if they have no issues?
Yes, they can definitely do that. That’s what I call a pre-season screening. Prevention is a big thing with orthotics, and I often see people who are starting training or stepping up their running. And because of the free assessment and money-back guarantee, they really have nothing to lose.
The Fane Clinic
The Old Farmhouse, Freston, Paston Ridings, Peterborough PE4 7XB.