Sports are vital for overall fitness. However, the extra stress on the feet from sports activities can lead to injuries ranging from minor strains and pains to fractures. Structural variations in the foot, leg or hip may function quite well in everyday life. Problems may arise when increased stresses from sporting activities are placed on them. Many of these problems may be treated or even prevented with the help of a podiatrist.
Podiatrists management of sports injuries will usually involve footwear advice, simple exercises or stretches, and possibly the use of special insoles or orthotics. Treatment first involves a thorough examination of the structure and biomechanics of the foot. Often, simply warming up properly and choosing the right footwear is adequate in preventing injury. However, there are cases where there may be significant biomechanical dysfunction in the feet and lower limb, thereby requiring more specialised treatment.
Foot orthoses are contoured appliances used to support, align, prevent or correct deformities and imbalances of the foot. Generally, orthoses are custom-made from plaster moulds taken of the patients’ feet and are designed for the patients’ specific needs and injury. At Castle Hill Medical Centre, the traditional plaster moulds have been replaced with more advanced 3D laser scanning to provide a more accurate measurement and flexibility in prescriptions. In addition, they help realign and control the joints in the feet so as to achieve and maintain the best functional position. More often than not, inherent structural weaknesses leading to painful conditions can be prevented if detected early. If necessary, a biomechanical and video gait analysis can be performed to assess the risk of injury, and then treatment can be implemented accordingly.
All too often,, we do not listen to our bodies, even when there are problems. Foot pain is not normal, so it is important not to ignore it. Early and accurate diagnosis is the key to treating and preventing sports injuries of the lower limb. More often than not, most of these conditions can be treated with the help of a podiatrist using insoles or orthotics, or simply by advising on a change of footwear.
About the author
James Teo is one of the directors and principle podiatrist of Castle Hill Podiatry, and principle podiatrist at the Castle Hill Medical Centre Podiatry Department. James graduated in Podiatry from Curtin University. James has also completed a Master Degree and has advanced qualifications in paediatrics, biomechanics and podiatric medicine.