I once worked at a law office downtown and walked to work. After some time, I visited a podiatrist for help with the pain in my left foot and ankle. I told him that it hurt when I walked to work but not when I walked home. His expression showed he thought this was either wacky or irrelevant. For myself, I wondered. I thought Maybe I’m in a rush when walking to work and when walking home I’m relaxed, which gives my feet a break. He made orthodics for me. After a time, I moved on to other jobs and the problem disappeared, or at least lessened. Even when I worked at a bookstore on my feet for many hours, the same pain did not recur.
And then I got a job at an office just 2 doors down from the former law office and started walking the same route to downtown again. The problem with my left foot recurred. This time I worked with a physiotherapist who told me my hips turned in. She gave me exercises to strenthen my hips, thighs, calves, and ankles. Squats, ankle raises, and exercises using a “step” all helped. And yes, it got better. But still I wondered: why does my foot hurt sometimes (especially when wearing those pink ribboned Sketchers) on the way to work and not on the way back?
One morning I noticed the reason — which was as obvious as the nose on my face — the sidewalk on Pownal slants! How could I not have noticed that before! On the way to work, it slants to the right, making me work to balance my feet constantly in my weak direction. On the way home, I often take Queen street, where the sidewalk is broad and level and my feet do not hurt. And in any case, if I take Pownal street home, the sidewalk slants now the other way, in relation to my body, which is not a problem for my feet to adjust to. Mystery solved!
Now I vary my route depending on my shoes and sometime take the West side of Pownal street where the sidewalk slants the other way. Just one more little story in praise of paying attention to the ground beneath our feet. And a big thank you to whoever created the gift of curiosity.