Narrabeen Sports and Exercise Medicine Centre - Podiatry
Located in Narrabeen on the Northern Beaches covering Manly, Warringah, Pittwater and North Shore areas, Narrabeen Sports and Exercise Medicine Centre’s team consist of sports physicians, physiotherapists, podiatrist, a massage therapist, orthopaedic surgeons and a dietitian.
In this article, Ray Harding, podiatrist from Narrabeen Sports and Exercise Medicine Centre on the Northern Beaches, explains how the mechanics of your feet can cause pain and injury throughout the body.
Podiatry - Biomechanics and Orthotic Therapy
For more than 30 years I have been treating athletes of all ability, both professional and recreational, children with growing problems and those associated with sporting activities, as well as the ageing community. Many of my patients suffer from the following conditions:
- Sporting injuries
- Running injuries
- Heel pain
- Knee pain
- Arch pain
- Shin splints
- Achilles Tendon pain
- Back pain
- Tired or burning feet
- Over-pronation (collapsing of the arch)
- Knock knees
- Flat feet
Many of these problems and their associated conditions such as Plantar Fasciitis (pain under the heel or arch), Hallux Limitus (big toe joint pain), Metatarsalgia (pain in the ball of the foot), Mortons Neuroma (swelling and/or an inflammation of a nerve) can be treated by improving the biomechanics of the way you walk or run.
What is Biomechanics?
The foot is an intricate and mechanically complex structure made up of 26 major bones, associated joints and soft tissue structures. The efficiency with which the foot functions when walking depends on the way in which these bones and joints move in relation to each other.
Efficient and pain-free function also depends heavily on the foot's angle to the leg and to the ground. If things do not work well in any of these areas, painful problems may result.
Biomechanics, a specialist area of podiatry, refers to the analysis of the foot and leg function and the diagnosis of any functional problems or abnormalities.
What can you expect from a biomechanical examination?
Utilising computerised pressure plate gait assessment, treadmill video gait and track assessments as well as bicycle set up to optimise cycling biomechanics, a biomechanical examination involves taking a series of measurements of the feet and legs with the patient standing and lying down and may include checking joint movements and assessing muscle strength and flexibility.
Once a diagnosis has been reached, the proposed course of treatment can be given. It is possible that a program of exercises and advice on footwear may be all that is necessary (see section below on correct sports shoes). You may need a small insole in your footwear to alter your walking pattern or where longer-term correction is required you may be prescribed orthotics.
What are Orthotics?
Foot orthotics (or orthoses) are orthopaedic devices designed to treat or adjust various biomechanical foot disorders that affect not only the foot, but the entire skeletal system.
This is done by making a cast – we use a cad-cam laboratory and scanning camera instead of old fashioned plaster casts. The orthotics are ground to prescription by a computer controlled drilling gig from a sold piece of plastic. This makes the orthotics super light and thin, but very strong. For football boots and those needing soft orthotics or less control, I use premade Formthotics‚ and EVA shells fashioned by the cad-cam laboratory.
The finished orthotic is then placed in the patient's shoe and helps keep the foot in the correct alignment. This in turn may correct the alignment of the shin bone, the knees, the hips, and the lower and upper back.
Are you wearing the correct sports shoes?
Muscle trauma, sprains and strains, shin splints and many other injuries can be caused by wearing the incorrect shoes for your sport and foot type.
For many years I have kept an up-to-date Recommended Sports Shoe List to help other health professionals and their patients as well as members of the public ascertain which sport shoe is best for them.
This list is updated every six months from information provided by the shoe companies and their representatives, retail outlets and feedback from athletes. You can view the list here.
Making an appointment
If you would like to talk to me about any foot or pain problems that you think may be foot associated then please get a referral from your GP and call Narrabeen Sports and Exercise Medicine Centre on 9971 1188 for an appointment.