Comfortable Shoes: Brooks Ghost 7

I’ve always been bothered by the bones that stick out on the outsides of my forefeet, but I didn’t know until recently that I have what’s technically called “tailor’s bunions.” What that means for me is trouble finding comfortable shoes. Wide shoes are too wide throughout, and regular shoes put pressure on the tailor’s bunions and make my feet hurt. I’ve even gone so far as to use a scalpel to excise a bothersome piece of rubber from a pair of running shoes to allow my bones to spread out instead of feel bound in pain.

brooks ghost 7
Brand new and blue!

I’ve been a big fan of Altra shoes lately, although they’re still not wide enough for me in the tailor’s bunion area. They have soft, stretchy mesh in the forefoot though, which allows my feet to push out to their required width. Since my muscle spasms have been so bad in my right hip, I haven’t been able to run in two months. I’ve been walking a lot, and Altras don’t do it for me as walking shoes. Their zero-drop platforms work well with my running style, but I’m a slow, heel-toe walker and prefer traditional running shoes for walking.

I spent an hour this morning trying on shoes from Asics and Brooks, and finally stumbled upon the Brooks Ghost 7. I hate buying the latest model of anything because it’s always marked up so much, but the Ghost 7 is superior to everything else I tried. The toe box isn’t nearly as rounded and wide as a pair of Altras, but the area near my tailor’s bunions doesn’t have a bunch of stiff overlays, so my feet can push the mesh out and relax. Sold!

Normally I wear a size 8.5, but I opted for a 9 in the Ghost. My feet are probably bigger than usual since it’s July in Florida and I’ve been walking a lot, and the 9 felt just right. I can’t wait to start putting some miles on my new shoes. They feel surprisingly light for traditional (not minimalist) running shoes, and I’ve read that they weight around 9 ounces. The heel offset is 11mm, but I don’t feel awkward in them like some shoes with big offsets. I really like that the heel collar is well-padded and covered in what feels like non-abrasive fabric. The color—“blue/eclipse/lime”—is not something I would design in a perfect world, but it’s not hideous. There are other color options, but my local running store only carries blue.

As far as the outsole goes, I’m glad to see full-length rubber. I don’t like the trend of leaving rubber off the soles in order to save weight and provide flexibility. If I’m wearing shoes, I want them to last a long time. If I want to feel the ground more, I’ll take off my shoes. I also like the Ghost’s lack of plastic plating on the sole. The hard, smooth plastic that connects the heel to the forefoot on some shoes is dangerous. I’ve slipped on the edge of a curb and slid along a fence because of that plastic. The Ghost looks like it uses a pretty thick dose of rubber on the outsole, so I hope this pair lasts for many hundreds of miles. I’ll update this post or write a new one after I’ve put a bit of distance on my new pair of Brooks Ghost 7!

Dystonia Nightmare

I’m worried that my dystonia is spreading. I’ve only been diagnosed with cervical dystonia, but the muscle spasms in my back and right hip have gotten worse in recent months (despite a few breaks). And in the last two weeks, I’ve woken up multiple times with my calf muscles knotted into agonizing bundles.

I’m still diligently taking magnesium supplements, which curiously seem to have helped relieve some of my neck spasms but haven’t touched my lower body. I bought another variety today—Bluebonnet Magnesium Citrate—and hope that if I up the dose and take different types, I’ll stop having so many spasms.

That said, I’m no fool. I know that the increased fasciculations, cramps, and full-blown spasms are a serious issue. I found a movement disorders clinic at a big city hospital five hours from me, and I’m headed there in August for a workup. I don’t know if fibromyalgia or dystonia came first, but at the moment, the dystonia is the scariest thing I’ve faced after years of mysterious symptoms. To not know if I’ll be able to walk normally (or at all) from one minute to the next is a unique kind of torture.

I haven’t run in 9 days because last Sunday when I ran, I felt great in the morning, but later locked into an all-night battle with spasms through my torso, hips, and legs. Dystonia, like fibromyalgia, is often poorly understood, and I’m just hanging in there the best I can. Slow walks and time on the elliptical seem to help me stay mobile and sane, but I feel like my body is getting away from me. I’ll keep y’all updated on how this plays out, and if you have suggestions, please let me know.

Magnesium for Muscle Spasms

I didn't really know the difference in brands beyond the labels, but I chose to buy the magnesium from the co-op so at least there was some form of quality control.
I didn’t really know the difference in brands beyond the labels, but I chose to buy the magnesium from the co-op so at least there was some form of quality control.

I’m still feeling stronger in general from cutting out every bit of processed food, but I’ve been having really bad trouble with muscle spasms again. My neck, back, and hips are so tight that I can’t move normally. The orthopedist dry-needled my hip and back last week and shot steroids (which I HATE) into my hip. The chiropractor gave me a couple of a major back and pelvis adjustments earlier this week, and the massage therapist tried to work through my concrete-like muscles. Two nights ago, I had one of the scariest episodes of muscle spasms ever.

I went to bed with my usual grouping of pillows—cervical pillow under my head and neck, memory foam pillow under my knees, thin synthetic pillow under my ankles and feet—and thought I might be able to sleep with minimal back and neck pain. That part was true, but around 4 a.m. I awoke to what felt like someone tearing my left calf muscles off the bone.

Normal calf cramps are something I’m quite familiar with, and this episode was nothing like the post-workout, dehydration-induced cramps of the past. The pain was so intense that I was yelling, and I’m usually pretty controlled since I’m used to fibromyalgia. No amount of squeezing the muscle and trying to stretch it was working, and I was terrified that something was happening to my body that could not be undone. My neck’s been spasming for 3 ½ years. My back’s been bad since October 2013. And now my lower leg?

The excruciating pain finally subsided and the muscle unwound a bit after two of us nearly squeezed it to death. I couldn’t straighten my knee or dorsiflex my ankle, and I had to crawl to the bathroom. Every time I tried to do anything but keep the leg bent and guarded, the spasm would start again. I’ve never experienced pain like that—not even when I was kicked in the face and broke my nose and cracked my jaw. I knew I wouldn’t die from a leg spasm, but it was the kind of pain that makes me wish it would kill me swiftly.

Fibromyalgia is a cruel game of trial and error. I’ve got the diet thing down pretty well, although there’s always room for tinkering with specific foods. I thought I was getting plenty of nutrition since I eat only fresh meats and vegetables and fruits, but now I’m considering magnesium deficiency as a possible spasm cause (or contributing factor).

Has anybody else tried magnesium supplements? As soon as I was able to get out of the house, I carefully loaded myself into my SUV and drove to the local co-op for organic bananas (potassium) and magnesium supplements. I noticed a decline in muscular tightness within two hours of taking the first magnesium pill. I’m hoping that a buildup of magnesium will finally stop the recurrent spasming in my body.

I’d love to hear from anybody with magnesium supplement experience. As always, y’all can private message me on Facebook or leave a comment here.