Sports injury is an area of podiatry that is often over looked. However podiatrists have an expert understanding of human gait and biomechincs enabling them to treat injuries of the hip, knee, ankle and foot. Ayres Podiatry places particular attention to co-ordinating hip and foot movements in order to resolve non-traumatic injuries of the lower limb.
There are 2 types of injury a person can sustain:
Acute injuries such as sprains, breaks and dislocations usually caused by a
Chronic injuries (over-use injury). These injuries are not preceded by any obvious trauma but occur due to small repetitive traumas such as the foot impacting the ground repetitively during a marathon or a muscle having to constantly contracting to resist a force or produce movement.
Podiatrists are primarily concerned with chronic injuries as they are experts at understanding the effects of forces on the body and the interaction between the foot, ankle, lower limb and pelvis during gait.
Biomechanics is a science that mixes biology and classical engineering principles to explain human movement, tissue adaptation and injury. Biomechanics can be used to explain why muscles and bones get stronger from exercise and why people get injured without any obvious trauma.
A full biomechanical assessment involves:
Examination of joints, skeletal alignment and muscle strength: These assessments are done both non-weight bearing and weight bearing.
Postural assessment: This helps to identify stiff muscles, weak muscles and structural issues such as leg length difference.
Gait analysis: The aim is to observe how a person walks/runs and how they are compensating for biomechanical abnormalities, injuries or pain.
Aims Of A Biomechanical Assessment
1. Identify which structure in the body is injured.
2. Identify the force that is causing undue stress on the injured structure.
Evaluation of training regime.
Movement education exercises.
Stretching and strengthening exercises.
Taping – With elastic k-tape or non-elastic low-dye tape.
Orthotic intervention – Special insoles that go in shoes to manipulate the forces that travel from the ground to the foot with the aim of improving foot function. A bit like glasses for the feet.
Common problems that biomechanical intervention can help
Stress fractures: These can occur in any bone but are very common in the metatarsals, tibia and calcaneus.
Shin splints (medial tibial stress syndrome): Pain on the lower inside edge of the shin, which usually occurs when training intensity is increased rapidly.
Plantar fasciitis: The plantar fascia is a thick non-elastic band similar to tendon and ligament that helps support the arch of the foot. Damage to this structure can lead to chronic heel pain.
Ankle pain: An umbrella term covering a whole host of pains including achilles tendon pain, chronic lateral ankle sprains, sinus tarsi syndrome (a pain felt deep in the ankle, just in front of the lateral malleoli).
Knee pain: Including anterior pain and iliotibial band pain (ITBS).
Hip pain: Pain in the hip can be caused by boney abnormalities such as one leg being longer than the other or by muscle imbalance.
Lower back pain: This can occur due to boney abnormalities such as one leg being longer than the other or muscle weaknesses that prevent the pelvis from being stabilized during walking and running.