In the work place many workers are required to perform job tasks that require strength, agility, coordination, skill and endurance. These are the same attributes required by athletes in order to perform at their best.
Early diagnosis, treatment, stretching and strengthening programs are all essential for quick recovery from injury, whether it be on the sports field or at place of work. Physical demands of the workplace can often compare with those that are experienced by sports athletes. Physically demanding, requiring good levels of strength, endurance, mobility, flexibility and balance. As well as involving performance and competitive pressures for standards, production and speed.
To avoid injury and enhance performance both workers and athletes should be encouraged to maintain optimal fitness. In reality, except perhaps for elite level athletes, the prevalence of sporting and workplace injuries would indicate that fitness levels are far from optimal.
Podiatry assessment can be helpful in determining a persons predisposition to injury and hence suitability for work or sporting activity. The main aim is to decrease the incidence and onset of lower limb injury.
Podiatrists are able to work together with coaches, doctors, physiotherapists and other members of a rehabilitation team in order to help prevent injuries from occurring in athletes. They perform biomechanical assessment; look at muscle strength and joint mobility. Subsequent prevention and treatment strategies can then be implemented to achieve the best performance outcomes and minimise injury risk.
The goal of rehabilitating and returning workers to optimal function post-injury should be just as aggressively pursued as it is in getting injured athletes back on the field.
Podiatry assessment in the workplace may also be extremely beneficial in injury management and prevention. Obtaining a clear picture of manual handling tasks and specific workers technique and position will help clarify the cause of the problem.
- The degree of damage can also be evaluated by testing the muscles, ligaments, joints and tendons that have been involved in the injury process.
- Dynamic and static gait assessment shows gait patterns, foot structure and mechanical dysfunction as potential causative factors whilst walking and running. The assessment of head, shoulder, arm, hip, knee, leg, ankle, heel position and movement is also done
- Testing of joint range and muscle strength is the key our ability to enable change and improvement in function.
- Podiatrists generally see an injury after the initial first aid treatment. Hopefully this will have included: RICER, heating or icing as required.
- Secondary treatment may include: taping, padding, splinting, orthotic therapy, footwear advice.
- Knowing when to refer to other health professionals for further treatment is crucial for a successful treatment program. They could include: Physiotherapists, Massage Therapists, Doctors, Psychologists, Dieticians and Personal trainers.
If your feet feel good, you will walk well - and continue to walk and exercise. An improper fitting shoe can be the difference between becoming active or remaining sedentary. A large range of footwear brands and styles can be overwhelming when trying to buy new shoes. It is important that the correct shoe is chosen for the foot type being treated. This advice can be given by the Podiatrist or a reputable shoe retailer. Staff at Blacktown Podiatry have contact with a number of footwear companies and retailers to keep updated with new technologies which are developed every season.
Important features of good shoes:
- Comfortable, padded heel collar
- Firm heel counter.
- Stability for the entire foot and leg.
- Heel should be held firmly in the shoe, well cushioned and supported somewhat higher than the rest of the foot.
- Entire shoe should be designed to absorb shock.
- Sole designed specifically to enhance smooth heel to toe motion.
- Toe box should allow ample room and toes should not be tight against any part of the shoe.
- Footwear is often broken up into three categories, neutral, supportive and controlling. However, with every sport comes different designs of shoes to offer maximum performance
Prevention of Injury
Often a podiatric service is used within a sporting club or workplace to screen the athletes or workers involved. This is done to gain an overall view of the potential for injury, even if the athlete or worker is injury free. It is then the podiatrist's job to offer treatment advice, regarding training programs and footwear. If there is the need for further treatment then this will also be organised.