Training for Morton's Neuroma
Online coaching + individualized strength training programs designed to cure your neuroma symptoms, no matter how long you've been struggling.
How It Works:
We start with a thorough Initial Assessment to determine which areas of compression in your body are shifting your posture over the forefoot
You get started on daily repositioning exercises to begin restoring non-compensatory mechanics throughout your body and improve movement in the feet and ankles
Meanwhile I design a customized training program tailored to your assessment findings, specific postural needs and the training equipment you have available to work out with
I send you the program and coach you through the exercises so that the form you execute works to shift your center of mass backward toward the heel, and off the forefoot
You show up for coaching, put the work in consistently, and within MONTHS you’ll notice significant relief in your symptoms
WHAT NEUROMA CLIENTS SAY:
My MN symptoms largely disappeared WITHIN WEEKS of starting my new training program. Little by little I was able to start running again without any pain or discomfort, and I can now go for hour-long walks without worrying that my feet will start to hurt. I’ve also experienced significant relief from lower back pain which had been an aggravating issue before I started this programme.
I experienced MN symptoms for around 5 years before starting to train with Romina. I had to give up running because it was too painful, and at times even walking for long periods of time (especially while carrying any heavy load like a suitcase) became painful. My MN even started to flare up when I was strength training (doing barbell deadlifts for example). I also could not even think about trying certain activities and sports, like tennis. It was hugely frustrating. My MN diagnosis was confirmed by doctors' evaluations including an ultrasound exam. All doctors I dealt with were skeptical regarding the long-term benefits of cortisol/steroid injections and surgery, so I did not pursue these treatments. I did try, for many months at a time, using different shoes (including barefoot shoes), wearing toe spacers, exercises prescribed by a physiotherapist, and wearing custom-made orthopedic insoles. The barefoot shoes with a wide toe box did help relieve some very uncomfortable symptoms like very frequent pins and needles and numbness in the foot, and the insoles provided a little bit of relieve from the MN symptoms, but never nearly enough to return to normal activity levels - i.e. being able to go for regular long walks, or for the occasional run. I chose to pursue strength training to deal with my MN symptoms mainly because doctors, podiatrists, and physiotherapists all seem to agree that the conventional treatments for MN (from insoles, to injections, to surgery) tend to be hit-or-miss depending on the patient, or only provide short-term relief. My prior experience strength training with kettlebells has also shown me that exercise can help alleviate or correct a range of pain and mobility issues. So, when I found Romina's website and read through her explanation of how she had dealt with her own MN symptoms I could totally relate to her story. But what really resonated with me was how she had eventually found that tailored movement and strength training turned out to be a very holistic way to address her symptoms. My MN symptoms largely disappeared WITHIN WEEKS of starting my new training program. Little by little I was able to start running again without any pain or discomfort, and I can now go for hour-long walks without worrying that my feet will start to hurt. They no longer hurt when I have to log around a heavy suitcase either. I can now try my hand at sports I thought I would no longer be able to, like volleyball and tennis, and I am developing a much better understanding of my body mechanics. I’ve also experienced significant relief from lower back pain which had been an aggravating issue before I started this programme. I have followed small-group programs before, including one where I had regular feedback from the coach. But Romina's online coaching goes much deeper than that and, if you are experiencing pain symptoms that just won't go away, or other setbacks, or are looking to improve performance after hitting a wall, one-on-one coaching could be what gets you over that hump. Doing coaching online can seem awkward at first but you get over it quickly and the coaching is very much worth it. In my case, I finally stopped experiencing really frustrating pain that was keeping me - otherwise healthy and decently fit - from running for years. I am so glad I found this and gave it a try, and I would encourage others to do the same.
Within 2-3 months of training I could walk longer distances without symptoms and noticed an overall reduction in aches/pains/new injuries. I got back to playing soccer and volleyball quickly after and I was able to work out in the gym with confidence because I had a plan that I trusted would help me and it felt so good to move again and gain strength again!
Before training I’d been struggling with neuroma symptoms for 2 years after an ultrasound confirmed the diagnosis. They would get really bad after walking 100 meters and I couldn’t handle standing on my feet for very long, let alone play sports. I tried wearing a walking boot and did some physical therapy, both which were unsuccessful in eliminating symptoms. If I tried running my feet would get achy after a mile or two. I received an injection but it didn’t help, so I started wearing athletic shoes with more cushion, inserted a pad in my orthotic to offload the area, and wore toe spacers at night. One day my dad came across Romina’s blog and I was willing to try something different since “conventional” routes weren’t working. Within 2-3 months of training I could walk longer distances without symptoms and noticed an overall reduction in aches/pains/new injuries. I got back to playing soccer and volleyball quickly after and I was able to work out in the gym with confidence because I had a plan that I trusted would help me and it felt so good to move again and gain strength again! This has changed my life. I would not have been able to gain function again without Romina’s training and individualized approach. The consistency and variety of workouts keep me engaged, and her wide breadth of knowledge gives me confidence because she understands anatomy and physiology in ways to create lasting change that the Western medicine approach does not. Many doctors and physical therapists today only focus on the symptoms and not the root cause. Breathwork, positioning and foot pressures, how I work out, move, and navigate life have changed dramatically for the better. I would recommend this training in a heartbeat.
After 3-4 weeks of training I noticed I could go up and down the stairs without searing pain, and it was another month or so before I could hike or ski without using numbing cream. These improvements have continued over the past year of working with Romina, not just in the foot but my thoracic and lower back pain have reduced significantly.
Prior to working with Romina I had been experiencing symptoms off and on for a decade, but in the last year it was ongoing and impacting daily living, volunteer work and outdoor activities. I had tried shots and insoles and changed shoes many times to try to stay active. I initially sought out treatment via physical therapy, then acupuncture, and finally consulted an orthopedic surgeon and 2 podiatrists. I had months of therapies, multiple steroid shots, several custom orthotics, tried self massage and numbing creams so I could ski and hike, and even changed out shoes and boots repeatedly first with orthotics and again with the custom one - all with no improvement in symptoms. It made sense to me to try training as I had already tried to change my gait which was very far forward over my toes. One of my physical therapist friends suggested I look into it since I already did a lot of other training, and standard physical therapy for the foot wasn't helping. I’d also wanted to increase the amount of strength training I was doing to maintain muscle mass and balance as I aged, so even if it didn't help with the neuroma I knew it would be good for me to learn better routines and techniques. After 3-4 weeks of training I noticed I could go up and down the stairs without searing pain, and it was another month or so before I could hike or ski without using numbing cream. These improvements have continued over the past year of working with Romina, not just in the foot but my thoracic and lower back pain have reduced significantly. I no longer use the custom orthotics and have returned to using older shoes I once could not wear comfortably. I can now ski 12 miles, hike with a backpack for days and am better balanced on scree and boulder fields without experiencing symptoms. I’m also learning to use my body differently and have lost some of the joint aches like my former knee pain, although there is more I can improve. I've gained back some muscle mass too which will be important for longevity and health, and my balance and agility have also benefited tremendously from this training process. I have a newfound desire to actually train 2-3 times a week instead of just doing aerobic activities and have regained the ability to move my ribs and torso which I lost in 2004! I am beginning to have a subtle change of attitude about what I can do and try - that is probably the most important of all. I only wish I had started training sooner before the neuroma was such a problem. I believe this is the only "treatment" that will offer you the benefit of using your whole body better as it will give you tools for health and strength. It’s amazing how much Romina can do via online coaching and video. She continues to surprise me when she finds rather subtle movements to improve so there's a lot of benefit to be gained with this training beyond curing neuroma symptoms.
Strength training has granted me the freedom to be outside in winter without my neuroma-triggered tingling and numbness making me want to run inside, and I can be barefoot without triggering symptoms. It’s also allowed me to hike and backpack as much as I’ve wanted, and provided for some adjustments to my walking technique inspired by the training.
I experienced neuroma symptoms for 3 years before I decided to try training with Romina. Multiple podiatrist visits confirmed I had MN and the pain impacted my ability to do things like hiking and backpacking trips. It even made me hesitant to visit friends without bringing my own slippers, for fear of having to walk and stand shoeless on hard floors. I tried cortisone shots twice and a replacement pair of orthotics with no improvement. Metatarsal pads didn’t help much either. I found Correct Toes worked pretty well but made my toes hurt after several hours. What worked best was separating my toes daily with cotton coil. When I first considered strength training I thought of it as an experiment. It felt worth a try, and plus it was a chance to mix up my strength training workouts. Within 5 months I weaned myself off of cotton toe spacers for daily wear, and within 6 months I found I didn’t need them for backpacking trips either! Strength training has granted me the freedom to be outside in winter without my neuroma-triggered tingling and numbness making me want to run inside, and I can be barefoot without triggering symptoms. It’s also allowed me to hike and backpack as much as I’ve wanted, and provided for some adjustments to my walking technique inspired by the training. I’d say if you’re on the fence about your options for finding a cure, definitely give strength training a try because it’s done wonders for me.
After the first 6 weeks I was able to start walking around the neighborhood again and I even managed to play pickleball! The workouts DEFINITELY help my feet not feel sore, and by the time I’ve finished they might feel 50% better or more. I also notice that I now stand up straighter, my shoulders aren't hunched, and overall I feel more toned and fit.
By the time I found Romina's website, I was feeling pretty desperate so I was highly motivated to take on her strength training approach. My foot pain began summer 2022 and got progressively worse until September when I was no longer able to walk around the block, play pickleball, or even walk to the grocery store without hobbling. I worked with a chiropractor for several months who was going on the assumption that it was plantar fasciitis. His toe exercises and treatments did pretty much nothing so I went to a podiatrist who told me to get some special pads to stick on my inserts and that the problem would probably be gone in a couple of months. Sometimes my feet hurt so much I had to ice them and I tried very hard to just stay off my feet and give them the prescribed "rest". Ultimately it was the chiropractor who suggested that it might be MN. That's when I did some online research and found that my symptoms were indeed consistent with MN - something I'd never heard of before. I had lost confidence in the chiropractor's ability to fix the problem and was not willing to go down the conventional road of what seemed like terribly invasive and incredibly expensive procedures. I was also starting to feel extremely anxious about summer approaching and still not being able to walk which meant no backpacking, fishing or anything active. That's when I came across Romina's website and her story about MN. After I read her blog post about her body aligned forward, I went for a walk and consciously shifted my weight backward just to see if that would make a difference. Miraculously, my feet stopped hurting (omg) so I decided I'd just invest three months and see if her approach could give me my life back. For the first 2.5 months I did her workouts 5 to 6 times a week. After the first 6 weeks I was able to start walking around the neighborhood again and I even managed to play pickleball again! The workouts DEFINITELY help my feet not feel sore, and by the time I’ve finished they might feel 50% better or more. I also notice that I now stand up straighter, my shoulders aren't hunched, and overall I feel more toned and fit. I don't think there's a quick and easy fix to curing MN symptoms but Romina’s understanding and approach totally makes sense, and the only thing her workouts will really cost you is time. Either way you're going to spend money to fix this problem, but the conventional route is going to cost a whole lot more. I'd encourage anyone with MN to commit to her training program for 3-6 months and just see what happens!
Mary Ellen, 60
My experience healing Morton's Neuroma
Read my story:
When I found out I had neuromas in 2018, I was determined to find a cure despite not getting relief from “traditional” treatments nor the professionals I had consulted with. I was NOT getting a surgery that could complicate matters down the road, keeping an open mind as a personal trainer that this could in fact be a movement problem. Movement problems need movement solutions, not necessarily medical interventions.
After several consultations with various professionals, it clicked that I had to address my posture if I wanted to stop perpetuating inflammation into the forefoot. Exercising in a manner that repositions my center of mass off of my toes and back over the heels would have to be the first step even if it didn’t bring any immediate relief whatsoever; then it would have to be stressed + followed by repetition + frequency for the postural changes to stick.
Because over the years my skeleton had adapted into a position of extension due to sport and stress, and this limited how freely my bones could roll and glide upon each other, particularly in the feet. It took years for my body to adapt to such compensatory posture as default, so it would take highly dedicated focus in a shorter period of time to bring it back to neutral.
As a trainer who studied Postural Restoration, I had the advantage and skill set of knowing how to manipulate exercises to restore normal joint position throughout my body. I designed myself a strength program that focused on exercises to improve range of motion at the hips and shoulders by influencing the shape of my rib cage and pelvis. Prioritizing the specific positions I needed to train in resulted in a global, long-term effect on all joints throughout my body, trickling down nicely into the feet and ankles.
Shifting my focus away from bilateral lifts and more towards training rotation is ultimately what worked to cure my symptoms within about 3 months. As it turned out, training consistency would make or break my progress. Slowly but surely I was able to walk, run, skip, jump, hop and sprint again all pain-free.
Having optimistically gone through this transformation first hand has enabled me to provide a holistic approach for clients who also decide to pursue a strength training approach after conservative treatments failed to address the root cause of their symptoms.
As of June 2023 I’ve been able to help dozens of neuroma clients diminish their symptoms via online training, and they will tell you it's the best investment they could have made.
How is training for Morton's neuroma different than personal training?
It's not! This is still personal training, we just train through zoom. Every new client begins with a thorough assessment to understand what position your skeleton is stuck in, then I use those findings to determine which exercises and positions you will need to train in order to change how your body distributes pressures from head to toe. All you need is a gym (or a home workout space with equipment) and a reliable internet connection for you to have the best training experience.
What is the success rate of #SkilledStrong strength training to diminish MN symptoms?
All clients who train at least 3 months or more see an improvement in symptoms, if not completely rid themselves of symptoms all together. This is because they dedicate at least 3-4 hours per week to their customized strength training program in addition to meeting with me on a weekly basis to ensure their exercise form is driving the desired changes we need, and they communicate with me outside our scheduled zoom sessions to stay on track with their progress.
A custom training program consisting of 2-3 workouts per week is created for you upon signing up for an Online Coaching plan, in which every exercise prescribed will be linked to an instructional video. Coaching sessions, however, are still needed to teach new positioning as it understandably will not come naturally at first. Alongside the weekly workouts, daily repositioning exercises are provided following the Initial Assessment to help manage your symptoms as frequently as needed.
How do I know which Online Coaching plan is right for me?
This largely depends on how experienced you are working with a coach, how in touch with your body you are, and how quickly you pick up new skills.
If you are completely new to training, you will need more frequent coaching in the first few months in order to get results. In this case it's recommended we meet 2-3x/week so that my eyes are on you regularly, helping you get into the right positions and troubleshooting live on our calls as needed. This way you're introduced to fundamentals to keep reinforcing, rather than unknowingly developing bad habits that perpetuate a forward weight-bearing posture.
If you're an experienced trainee and can hold yourself accountable to the process, then we can meet once per week to guide positioning and ensure you're nailing the exercise progressions. Training programs will always be progressed based on your feedback and how well you manage core positioning throughout the exercises.
How long does it take to feel an improvement in my neuroma symptoms?
Just like any fitness goal, it generally takes 3-6 months of consistent training to achieve results. The more frequently we meet (2-3 hours per week), the faster you will see results. Less frequency works too (30-60 minutes per week), but it might take longer for you to see results if my eyes aren't on you as much as you personally need. No matter what, as long as we prioritize improving rib cage and pelvis position in your exercise form, you will notice a gradual improvement in symptoms within the first month, and a significant difference in your ability to walk, run and play sports within 5-6 months (perhaps even sooner!)
What does the rib cage have to do with neuromas?
In order to redistribute pressures internally and shift your center of mass backward off your forefeet and toward the heels, we must address the rest of the body above your feet. The rib cage is a large, heavy structure that houses important organs like the heart and lungs, as well as the diaphragm. In most everyone I assess we discover that the rib cage is stuck flared forward in space (due to a variety of factors, but easily influenced via respiration). This means the weight of the rib cage, plus the weight of the organs inside and below it are also shifted forward toward the toes, which comprises pelvic position, which ultimately limits mobility down the chain into the feet. If we train to restore dynamic movement in the rib cage, we ultimately change how every bone interacts in the skeleton, redistribute your body weight back over the heels, and therefore regain the ability to move through foot pronation (metatarsal splay) and supination (arch lifts).
In short: Position dictates what muscles can do. If we want a foot that can splay, we need a hip and rib cage that can absorb weight on that side. If we want a "functional core" we need optimal rib cage + pelvis positioning so the diaphragm can interact with your pelvic floor. If we want to train away neuroma symptoms, we need to physiologically stress you in different shapes that get you out of an unconscious pattern perpetuating a forward weight-bearing posture.
and Morton's Neuroma
Your posture can aggravate Morton's neuroma symptoms when you're stuck in a forward weight-bearing posture unkowingly.
Notice how most of my body mass rests in front of the plumb line drawn through the heel bone.
A center of mass that is shifted forward of the heels limits the degrees of rotation available in each joint throughout the body, including the 33 joints that comprise the foot and ankle.
Metatarsal bones that cannot rotate cannot splay, and so they will compress on the nerves living between them.