Sports podiatry is the medical specialty dealing with the diagnosis & treatment of problems with the feet & lower limbs. Although podiatry technically deals specifically with the feet, the health of our feet have such a big impact on the health of our legs and back that sports podiatrists will often end up dealing with injuries in these areas as well.
So how can you tell when you should visit a sports podiatrist as opposed to a general podiatrist or an orthopaedic surgeon? As the name implies, sports podiatrists often work with people who engage in recreational or professional sports. They are often used by people for training and as a means of preventing injury before a big event. However, sports podiatrists could also be helpful to people who repeatedly injure their feet or legs, which can indicate that there is a mechanical or physical issue.
When you visit a sports podiatrist, one of the first things they will do is analyse your walk. To do this, they will likely use a gait scanner, which is a pressure-sensitive pad that analyses how your feet make contact with the ground, how forceful your steps are, where you place pressure, and how you shift that pressure as you move.
In addition to the gait scanner, a sports podiatrist will examine your walk visually, and monitor the chain of motion. This is how the energy you use to walk flows through your body, from the feet, through the knees, past the hip, and into the back. This will enable the podiatrist to identify any improper movements that could be either the result or cause of an underlying issue. In most cases, by examining a patient visually, a podiatrist will be able to pinpoint the problem area, and determine the problem quite quickly.
As soon as the issue has been identified, your podiatrist will then prescribe a treatment plan to address it. What this is will depend on the issue facing you specifically, but it will often involve some form of stretches, and possibly muscle-strengthening exercises. They may prescribe customised orthotic inserts for you, to correct any improper positioning or movement you may have developed. They may also advise that you invest in some new or proper footwear, as using the correct sports shoe is essential to keeping your feet healthy.
While they are not limited to either sports or feet, that is what sports podiatrists tend to focus on. But whether you’re seeking preventative help, or trying to solve an existing issue, sports podiatrists can help offer help to anyone who has concerns about their feet, or lower limbs. With straightforward and non-invasive examinations, sport podiatrists are nothing to be afraid of, so if you think you should see someone, don’t hesitate any longer.
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