How Podiatry Can Help You Stay Active

Think about all the amazing places your feet have taken you. Think about all the wonderful things they allow you to achieve every day.

We all rely on our feet for so many different reasons, so it stands to reason that suffering with foot or lower limb pain is detrimental to both your physical and mental health. Pain may cause every day activities like grocery shopping or cleaning to become even more a chore, it might limit your desire to socialise, or impact your ability to exercise or train.

It’s vital to look after your feet, and prevention is far better than a cure. Whether you’re seeking pain management or injury prevention, podiatry should be your next step.

What is a Podiatrist? Did you know that Podiatrists can do so much more than just provide general foot care (trim toenails, debride corns, callouses warts and tickle your feet)? Podiatrists are lower limb specialists - studying a four-year Bachelor degree covering the lower limbs in great detail, including anatomy, biomechanics, physiology, pharmacology, public health, health conditions and injuries. As such, Podiatrists are very well-equipped to deal with any complaints relating to the feet or lower legs.

If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort, or are concerned about anything to do with your feet your lower limbs, do something about it! Your body and mind will thank you for it. Certainly you could see your GP in the first instance, but why not a podiatrist? Podiatrists are allied health professionals. As such, you don’t need a referral and appointments are eligible for private health fund rebates. Generally, consultations will be much longer compared to seeing your GP. Plus you will benefit from far more specific knowledge and experience, and a more thorough assessment.

Pain in the Feet and Legs Lower limb injuries are prevalent, particularly amongst the active population. Plantar Fasciitis (plantar heel/arch pain), Achilles Tendinopathy (posterior heel pain), neuromas and MTPJ bursitis (forefoot pain), ITB syndrome (lateral thigh/knee pain), calf strains and shin pain are some of the more common presentations seen in podiatry.

Thinking in more detail about the nature and intensity of the pain you’re experiencing, and when it hurts most can give you plenty of clues about the type of injury you’re suffering from. For example, soft tissue injuries (muscle, tendon, ligament) tend to exhibit aching. They have relatively constant pain that often warms up with gentle movement or exercise, but can also be aggravated with fatigue. In contrast, bone injuries tend to exhibit much sharper pain that worsens with load and can be painful at rest as well. Nerve pain will also be sharp, but often it’s accompanied by neural symptoms such as numbness, burning, tingling or pins and needles.

Seeking advice from a podiatrist can greatly improve your prognosis and get you back on your feet sooner. Foot and lower limb injuries are often complicated by a number of factors, including but not limited to; training errors, footwear, biomechanics, gait characteristics and systemic health concerns. It’s important to determine the cause/s of injury, and address these with treatment in order to manage pain and reduce the risk of future injury.

Pain Management & Injury Prevention How your pain responds to treatment can also be helpful during the diagnostic process. If you’re suffering with pain, and unable to, or unsure about seeking advise from a health professional immediately, try some of the following remedies: - ice - a great way to reduce inflammation and provide temporary pain relief for most injuries

- pain relief - voltaren or neurofen will reduce inflammation, which can help reduce pain caused by certain injuries when used short-term - gentle massage - great for addressing muscle tightness

- strength program - really important for the rehabilitation of muscle and tendon injuries - balance and stability exercises - really important for ligament rehabilitation

- shoe fit - often plays a significant role in forefoot pain - strapping - ‘Low Dye’ technique can be helpful to provide additional foot support to offload painful and overworked structures

Being proactive provides many benefits, especially when it comes to your health and your feet. Taking steps towards better foot health can greatly reduce your risk of suffering foot or lower limb pain in the future: - Wear comfortable and supportive shoes, especially for exercise, work, shopping - any time that you’re doing lots of walking or standing. Cushioning will reduce the impact and load through your feet. Some contour through the arch will provide gentle support, and having a laced or velcro shoe will provide extra security. - Keep active. Regular exercise is a great way to benefit your overall health, and the health of your feet. It promotes better circulation and improves strength in the muscles of your legs and feet. - Check your feet every day and give them some love. If you can reach your feet, give them a gentle massage every evening. If not, then find someone who likes your feet enough to do this for you! This is a great way to relax your feet at the end of the day, and also check that you haven’t stepped on anything that could cause damage (this is especially important for those suffering with diabetes, and those who may not have good feeling in their feet).

Running Fix Podiatry - My New Business I’m a professional triathlete, and have been active my entire life. I am passionate about the importance of keeping active and enjoying physical activity, in order to promote physical and mental health benefits.

My clinical experience as a podiatrist thus far has been primarily with active individuals, helping them to overcome injuries and pain affecting their feet and lower limbs.

I have recently started my own business, Running Fix, and have chosen to focus on the assessment and management of foot and lower limb pain, with the goal of helping people to walk, run and exercise without pain. I offer injury assessments, footwear recommendations, strength and exercise rehabilitation programs, orthotics and gait analysis for both running and walking, as well as personalised training plans for running and triathlon. Essentially, I am much like a physiotherapist, for your lower limbs.

I am practicing at STAR Australia - a sports training, rehabilitation and recovery centre located in Capalaba (Brisbane). You can book appointments online via my website, or get in touch via phone or email. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your feet or legs, I’d love to help.

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