Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Best Foot Forward

My battered feet in my battered ballet slippers...

In my 59+ years I have been very cruel to my feet.

Starting with ballet and doing point work at age 14 (and then again at age 30 something) then track and field (discus, shot put and hurdles), various and sundry other physical activities such as aeorbic workouts, and last but probably most significantly - years of pounding the treadles. So to speak.

When I say pounding the treadles, I am of course, referring to the many years of production work on the AVL.

It did not take me very long to realize that weaving on the AVL was going to take a very high toll on my feet. My foot, actually. My right foot to be specific.

On top of the point work, the history of arthritis in my family, my allergies with elevated inflammation rates - all pointed toward a strong potential of developing arthritis in my feet.

So I always wore some sort of footwear while weaving - beginning with ballet slippers for regular floor looms, then aerobic exercise shoes for the AVL.

It didn't take very long at all for me to realize that weaving for 5+ hours a day on a regular floor loom was going to leave my feet sore and aching if I didn't protect them somehow and since I had ballet slippers decided that they would fill the bill.

Since I slide my feet up the treadle, I needed a shoe with a leather sole and ballet slippers have a sturdy leather sole up the middle of the foot, with a thin flexible upper that allows me to feel the treadles so I can keep my place in the treadling sequence.

But when I went to the AVL, I knew that ballet slippers simply would not be sufficient protection from the weight of the shafts being lifted (15 shafts for Bronson Lace tabby b - 14 shafts for huck and Summer and Winter tabby). Since I was taking an aerobic class I had aerobic shoes handy so tried them and felt that they would do the trick.

Unfortunately I did not avoid arthritis in my feet. My right foot developed arthritis in the ball joint several years ago. This year I started developing arthritis in my left foot. :( The bad news is that this is the joint that gout usually manifests itself. Did you know that gout is a form of arthritis? I didn't! And since two of my medications can encourage gout......

I have started taking glucosimine in liquid form and have found it to be quite effective. Unfortunately with the onset of colder weather, I'm feeling it in my feet. :(

So, long story short, I am not a big fan of weavers weaving in bare or stocking feet. If they only weave for a little while now and then I suppose it's no big deal. But if they weave for any length of time on a regular basis on a jack type loom, I really hope they consider protecting their feet in some manner.

The good news is that I saw the doctor today and we have adjusted my medication, reducing the Plavix which I felt was beginning to have adverse effects (this is one of the meds that can encourage gout). And I've ordered more of the Cardio Cocktail which I hope will be the solution to my currently very erratic bp. While the numbers are not terrible, I'm blowing spikes almost every day that I have to work very hard to get to come down. :(

I'm also wondering about deficiencies in calcium and vitamin D - so along with a check on cholesterol tomorrow morning he's also ordered tests for those and a check on my liver function to see if there's a problem there.

I am very grateful that my doctor takes my concerns seriously, and allows me latitude to try alternate things like nutritional supplements. :)

Currently reading Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson


Delighted Hands said...

Hmmmmm, never gave my poor feet a thought! I do most things barefoot so I do need to think about this. I have been vit D deprived for a while so it is good to think about how I want to keep using my bones for weaving and care for them!

Sandra Rude said...

I'll read ANYTHING by Neal Stevenson. ANYTHING. Haven't read that one yet - will have to search it out.

Sharon Schulze said...

I wear very thick socks for weaving and can tell a big difference between the socks and the few times I've woven completely barefoot. I'm not lifting lots and lots of harnesses (only have 8 harness looms) so the cushioning has been the most important part. The bigger issue for me is being able to hit one treadle at a time with my big old feet - something I can't seem to do if I'm wearing anything other than socks.

I saw some slippers that were knitted but had leather soles. Since I can't buy regular slippers that are big enough for my feet I have longed for many years to find a knitter who would make me some of those leather-soled slippers. I thought maybe the leather soles could be formed closely enough to my feet that they would be like socks but not interfere with treadling.

Susan said...

During better weather I seem to live barefoot or wearing (good support) sandals. It seems this 'stage in life' leaves me running hot and wearing too many layers on my feet (of all things!) encourages hot flashes. I too have feet issues: arthritis in the ball of my right foot, extra bone growth on the top of my foot and numbness that runs down the far right side due to back issues. So I have taken to wearing a form of ballet slippers, though not the real deal. It has made quite a difference. Now that my back issues have settled down (for now) I'm weaving much longer periods and building up speed. Slow compared to you! But a great improvement for me..


barbara said...

Laura - you sure give weaver's a "heads-up" and something to think about. I have a pair of leather shoes with leather soles, almost a semi dress show with low heel. They are great for weaving. Had them when I started my achillies tendon issue. They are narrow enough that I don't pull down other treadles. My weaving shoes!!!!
Weaverly yours ....... Barbara

Anonymous said...

Laura- I am currently healing from surgery to my right foot and your comments about wearing ballet slippers are hitting home with me. Prior to this I have worn hand knit socks or went barefoot to weave. Now that I know first hand how painful foot surgery is you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be looking for some extra wide ballet slippers to wear when I finally am able to return to my beloved looms. Hope your health continues to improve, happy weaving. -Martha

Laura said...

When we are young and immortal we don't think about the consequences of our choices until we are older, wiser and hurting. :(

While I have been taking glucosamine in capsule form for years, I have been very impressed with the effectiveness of the liquid form (bought at Costco at not too terrible a price.) For me it seems to have made all the difference.

Anyone with arthritic feet should wear shoes with good support at all times (advice from my mother's doctor - she of the arthritic hips/knees/feet).

If someone is weaving on a countramarche loom the issue is not nearly so critical as there is very little effort required to open a shed. But a jack or counterbalanced loom - I don't like to see anyone weaving without some form of protection on their feet. Especially an AVL unless it has air assist or e-list systems.


Laura said...

Hi Sandra,

I just posted a quote from the book to my website - click on Education, then Quotations.

The book has nanotechnology as a central point - called 'mites'. :)


Randi said...

Thanks for the shoe information! I have always woven without shoes - I am going out for ballet slippers this weekend! Should I get some with arch support???
Love your blog!

Laura said...

Ballet slippers don't come with arch support as such. They do have a thick rigid leather that runs down the centre of the shoe with a soft leather upper that comes down around the foot. If you need arch support, you might look at getting some gel insoles to put inside them.

The sizing of ballet slippers doesn't necessarily follow ordinary show sizing. Best if you can try them on. Bring your insoles with you to make sure you are getting a good fit.

Some come with elastic across the instep/arch. I'd recommend the elastic if you are going to put insoles into them.

Or try to find the little Chinese slippers with the cloth uppers and sort of slippery plastic type soles. Many people find these make great weaving slippers, too.


DebbieB said...

Hi, Laura! I weave on a Macomber jack loom - the treadles are particularly uncomfortable with bare feet, so I always wear shoes. I have been wearing "crocs" (or a cheap knockoff). I can't slide my feet with my particular kind of treadle - it's hinged differently, with the pressing action being from the heel rather than from the toe - so it helps to have a thick sole at the heel.

Good food for thought today!

Anonymous said...

I am ten years older than you and only started weaving a year ago after taking a course at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. I wear Isotoner Ballet Slippers when weaving. They are like ballet slippers with sort of a suede/leather type sole but are way more cushioned on the inside than regular ballet slippers. i originally bought Capezio Ballet slippers and they did not protect the soles of my boney feet as well. Just a thought.......-Catherine

Dorothy said...

Hi Laura, I've seen you recommend ballet slippers before, and I need to sort something out.

I have both feet in support bandages at the moment. After 4 months of not doing much, my feet, ankles and achilles tendons were not up to the things I wanted to do when I felt better - like running down the hill, walking for miles, weaving for several hours in the day, generally jumping about ;) Ouch. I need ballet slippers and to generally be more kind to my feet.

Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

Laura said...

Hi Dorothy,

We only have one body, which we generally take for granted - until the day when it reminds us that it has a shelf life. :(

You may need more support than 'just' ballet slippers given your current condition. A chat with a podiatrist might be helpful given that you are already needing support bandages....