Sport, in all its guises, provides us with numerous healthy past-times, builds confidence, develops team-working skills, is used in rehabilitation after illness or injury and sometimes develops into a career – either as a sportsman or woman or as sports-focused allied health professional.
In fact, some people go on to be both.
When we think of sports medical-support we automatically think physiotherapist, but a podiatrist is also an essential member of a sporting club’s medical support framework.
A football club’s podiatrist sees all players regularly, and provides a range of treatments, varying from simple toenail cutting to more complicated procedures such as nail resections to correct ingrown toenails and advanced treatments for specific footballing injuries affecting the feet and legs. I remember when I started at the team they loved having me around to remove any hard skin that had built up on their feet. I think they saw it as a real luxury.
Podiatrists can assess the biomechanics of their players and identify certain risk factors for injury, helping to treat the underlying cause of recurring injuries, or even as a means of injury prevention with the use of orthoses fitted into their football boots.
We also offer general lower limb care and health care advice for maintenance of the team’s skin and joints. Identifying any potential problems at an early stage makes the club podiatrist pivotal to the club’s injury prevention strategy.
Blisters, for example, can seem trivial yet could cause all sorts of problems for a footballer taking part in an important tournament such as the World Cup, particularly if the climate is hot. Yet they can be so easily prevented and treated by a podiatrist who can identify and treat the issue early.
I remember some years ago there was an injury to a player’s toe, it hurt so much that he was training with xylocaine injections, if I wasn’t there he would most likely have his nail removed (which it wasn’t necessary) and that is because of doctors, without underestimating any doctor, they do not have the same knowledge as podiatrists.
Not only must a club podiatrist be skilled in lower limb care, enthusiastic and always professionally competent, but he or she must also capable of developing strong and lasting working relationships with each and every member of their team. The team needs confidence in its medics and vice-versa.
Podiatrist is now a widespread profession mainly for the personal care and hygiene and from my experience, some clubs see it as a luxur and other clubs doesn’t know what exactly a podiatrist can offer to a player . If a non-athlete walks 4 miles daily it is equaling 1000 tons of force per day, can you imagine what is happening to an athlete’s sole every day? Think about how much a player’s performance can change if the tool of his job, his legs, are perfectly cared for by a specialist.
Slowly our industry is growing giving us hope that something is changing. Football is a male-dominated, tough area that does not allow women to enter and work in this area, it is considered taboo for many clubs, but that’s why we are here, to change the exception to a rule.
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