Are Sports Orthotics Your Key To Preventing & Treating Injuries This Season?

Are Sports Orthotics Your Key To Preventing & Treating Injuries This Season?

As a country that is renowned for its love of sports, we’re no strangers to sporting injuries. In fact, with just under 60,000
Australians hospitalised for sports injuries in one year alone, some have come to almost expect
injuries as a normal part of sports. 

Where’s Dom? Oh, he put his shoulder out last week. Got it, who’s up next then?

The reality is that sports injuries can be devastating. One in ten of the 60,000 injuries we mentioned is life-threatening
and if you are lucky not to be in that category, the high impact forces that accompany sports mean that injuries can still have lifelong
consequences. A common example is the knee joint, where studies show both that knee injuries increase the risk of irreversible knee
osteoarthritis six-fold, and that up to 17% of knees can have a rapid progression of osteoarthritis, changing the joint structure from one
that is normal to one that has severe end-stage damage within four years. 

With more Australians starting competitive sports at younger ages, there’s a desperate need to magnify the focus of injury
prevention when it comes to sports. Here’s a look into some of the most common injuries sustained over a few of
Australia’s favourite sports, what they mean, and a powerful tool our podiatrists use every day to help treat and prevent injuries: custom
sports orthotics

Rugby Injuries

Both rugby league and rugby union are high-impact and fast-paced sports. The games are long, players are always stopping or starting,
accelerating, quickly changing directions, sprinting, and often tackling, diving or holding firm in a scrum. That is a lot of force and
tension that these players face both on the field, and in the many training sessions and practice games leading up to a competition game.
This leaves rugby players vulnerable to a range of both overuse injuries and traumatic injuries, including:

Overuse Injuries

  • Shin splints – pain at the front or
    inside of the shins that often comes on during or after running

  • Stress fractures – small hairline
    fractures to the bones of the foot or leg that are caused by ongoing stress over time

  • Plantar fasciitis – pain at the
    bottom of the heel that you’ll most often feel when first getting out of bed in the morning and when standing after rest

  • Knee pain – overusing, straining or
    wearing down areas of the knee like the ligaments, tendons or knee cartilage

  • Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction (PTTD) – straining the tendon that runs down the inside of the leg, crossing the inside
    of the ankle, and down into the foot
  • Sesamoiditis – pain and swelling near the bottom of the big toe joint

Traumatic Injuries

  • Muscle or tendon strains or tears – muscle tears or strains to the lower limbs caused by sudden and forceful impact. This
    can affect a wide range of structures in the feet and legs

  • Ankle sprains – rolling out on the outside or inside of the ankle, which strains the ligaments and leaves a painful,
    unstable ankle

  • Plantar plate injuries – hyperextending one or more of the joints at the ball of the foot which damages the plantar plate
    that stabilises the ball of the foot
  • Turf toe – the specific hyperextension of the big toe
  • Fractures – bone breaks cause by direct impact

Cricket Injuries

When Australian T20 and T50 cricket injuries were reviewed over a ten year period, it was found the average injury incidence was 64
injuries per 100 players every season
Not only is that a staggering amount of injuries, but it also meant that up to one fifth of the team weren’t available for selection.
With running between wickets and on the field, giving bowling your full force, the repetitive movements and long days on the feet,
cricketers are prone to injuries including:

  • Achilles tendinopathy -
    damage and weakening of the powerful, cord-like tendon at the back of your heel

  • Patellar tendinopathy – damage to the tendon that runs across the front of the knee, where the kneecap (patella) is

  • Stress fractures – small cracks in
    the bone from repetitive high impact forces

  • Hamstring strain – the most common injury in Australian cricket, the hamstrings at the back of the thigh are regularly
    engaged in all aspects of cricket

Soccer Injuries

Soccer is fast-paced with players always on the go and loading their feet and legs. You’re always running, kicking, and shifting all
your body weight on one foot as you kick and manoeuvre the ball. As a result, common soccer injuries include:

  • Adductor tendinopathy – this describes a groin strain, when muscles of the groin or thigh are forcefully or suddenly
    stretched beyond a point that they can safely handle

  • Hamstring strains – which can occur when you bring your leg up in front of you to kick the ball and straighten your knee to
    kick, which can overload the hamstrings at the back of the thigh
  • Turf toe – hyperextending the big toe and damaging the tissues supporting the joint

  • Achilles pain – pain at the
    back of the heel that may radiate up the leg. This may be contributed to by soccer boots which tend to be low-set, with your heel sitting
    lower than in everyday footwear which can lead to straining the Achilles tendon

Tennis Injuries

Tennis forces you to move from side to side rapidly and suddenly, quickly accelerating and decelerating, and working on various surfaces
that may be tough on the feet. As a result, tennis players are prone to:

  • Ankle sprains – where your foot can roll and strain the ligaments after a sudden stop to hit the ball after racing to get
    to the right spot

  • Shin splints – pain at the front of
    the shins that is caused by overloading the muscles or tissues connecting to the shins, or the shin bone itself

  • Plantar fasciitis -
    this heel pain can be caused by repetitive running and jumping that stresses and overloads the plantar fascia tissue

  • Tennis toe – this describes the damage to the toenail that leads to bleeding and bruising as a result of the toenail
    repeatedly hitting the end of the tennis shoe

Additional Children’s Injuries In Sports

While children can sustain any of the sporting injuries we’ve mentioned, there is one category of injury that often occurs during or
after sports that is unique to kids: growing pains. Specifically:

  • Sever’s – this
    describes growing pains at the back of the heels

  • Osgood Schlatter’s – these
    are the growing pains felt at the front of the knee
  • Iselin’s – growing pains on the outside border of the foot, at the midfoot

Treating And Preventing Sports Injuries With Orthotics

When it comes to treating and preventing sports injuries, custom foot orthotics are a powerful and specialised treatment tool. Orthotics are
medical shoe inserts that work by adjusting the way that your feet are positioned and aligned when standing on them, which affects the way
your feet and legs work together to produce movement, which we call biomechanics. By changing a person’s
biomechanics, orthotics can offload painful areas of the foot, offer greater support in the areas you need it, add more stability to your
ankle, help your feet better absorb shock, and act in many other ways that they are carefully designed to. 

Custom foot orthotics are able to help treat a wide range of foot
and leg pains across many different sports because they are uniquely and carefully prescribed for your specific condition, foot
characteristics, biomechanics and using a 3D digital cast of your foot. This is much like how prescription glasses are prescribed to help
with many different – and often opposite – vision disturbances.

Every aspect of your orthotics is carefully selected – from how many degrees your heel will be inverted or everted to help optimise your
performance on the field, to how each joint at the ball of your foot will sit to help prevent a specific joint from being overloaded and
painful, to how thick your heel cushion should be to help your body better manage the forces as you sprint along the field.

Better yet, by helping improve your biomechanics and foot alignment, custom foot orthotics aren’t just beneficial for recovering from
injury but help you prevent injury too, by helping optimise the way your feet and legs move, and how you load your feet.

Keeping Brisbane At The Top Of Their Game

Our podiatrists work extensively with sports enthusiasts, professional players and weekend warriors to help them get the most out of every
game, reduce their injury risk, and support them through their recovery when problems arise. Book your appointment with our podiatry
team online

or call us on 1300 993 338

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