Athletes depend on their feet to support them as they perform the strenuous movements required by their sport. These movements are often high impact, require quick changes in direction and acceleration and involve jumping.
Several podiatrists who work with professional sports teams cite building relationships as one of the most rewarding aspects of their job. These podiatrists also provide expert pre-participation foot screenings, examinations and evaluations.
Podiatrists are experts in the lower leg and foot, which means they can offer advice on preventing injuries that can derail an athletic career. This includes the selection of appropriate footwear, gait analysis and training regimens. In addition, if injury is present, a Podiatrist Newtown can evaluate the effectiveness of treatments including orthotics, exercise and other interventions.
Athletes of all levels can benefit from regular podiatric care. In fact, many Olympic athletes—including track and field stars Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson, and Edwin Moses as well as diver Greg Louganis and Decathlon competitor Dan O’Brien—seek Podiatric care to optimize their performance. In one case, seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong claimed he could not have won his titles without Podiatric care services.
According to the panelists, working with professional athletes is a dream job for many DPMs. To gain experience, they recommend starting at the youth and club level, attending games and practices to introduce themselves to coaches, trainers and other physicians such as physical therapists and orthopedists. Offering lectures and presenting foot screenings to the teams or clubs can also help.
Some of the DPMs who treat professional athletes say that hard work, a love of sports and willingness to volunteer are key factors in landing a position with a team. For example, Dr. Osterman started her relationship with the Washington Wizards by volunteering to provide lower extremity physicals for their players.
Whether an athlete is preparing for a competition or simply playing for fun, podiatrists provide invaluable services. They can design a pre-sports workout routine, teach proper stretching techniques and recommend specific footwear to support a player’s needs. They can also show athletes how to tape their feet and recommend muscle-strengthening exercises for a better chance of injury avoidance.
In addition to preventing injuries, podiatrists treat injuries that occur during training and games. They often work closely with trainers and orthopedists to ensure the best possible recovery. They can perform minor procedures such as removing foreign bodies or injecting joints to reduce swelling and pain. They can even help determine if a patient is ready to return to sports activities after an injury.
Several of the panelists interviewed mentioned that working with professional sports teams can be a rewarding experience. They often find that the athletes are very appreciative and enjoy working with them. However, it is important to remember that the job can be demanding and require a lot of travel. For this reason, it is usually best for podiatrists to start at the youth and club level before working with professional teams. This can also serve as a way to introduce themselves to coaches, trainers and physical therapists, who might be more open to collaborating with podiatrists in the future.
Recovering From Injuries
Podiatrists are skilled at diagnosing and treating injuries to the feet and lower legs. They can help an athlete recover from shin splints, plantar fasciitis and stress fractures by providing advice, recommending stretching exercises or shoe inserts (orthoses) and performing foot and ankle surgeries.
Podiatric physicians also work with team doctors and trainers to develop injury prevention programs and pre-game preparation plans. They may also provide on-field injury triage and medical management during games. Many of the panelists cited building relationships as being one of the most rewarding aspects of working with professional sports teams.
Athletes who want to up their game often seek podiatric care for guidance and tactics on improving performance without using drugs. Olympic medalists, including track and field athletes Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson and Edwin Moses, divers Greg Louganis and Dan O’Brien and swimmer Sheila Taormina have all accredited podiatric care helping them to maximize their performances.
Podiatrists involved in professional sports usually get their start by getting to know the head athletic trainer and other team members through volunteering or participating in the team’s medical advisory board. Other ways to become involved in professional sports as a podiatrist include attending sporting events, joining a community club or playing recreational sport. Some of the panelists mentioned that hard work and a love of the sport are important for obtaining a position with a professional team.
Keeping Your Feet Healthy
Keeping healthy feet is important for everyone, but even more so for athletes. Injuries can happen even if you don’t run or jump for long periods of time, so it’s important to have your feet regularly checked for signs of injury, such as thickening or discoloration of the nails, cracking or peeling of the skin or changes in temperature and moisture between the toes.
If you notice any of these, schedule an appointment with a podiatrist. They will perform a complete examination of the feet, including the skin and between the toes and feet, as well as the nails. They will also check for any changes in balance or gait, as well as the condition of the tendons, ligaments and bones.
Podiatrists working with professional sports teams find it gratifying and inspiring. Dr. Carter, who works with the Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins, finds it especially rewarding to watch injured athletes regain their full potential.
Podiatrists agree that time is the biggest challenge when working with professional athletes, due to their schedules and travel. They also stress the importance of communicating with the athletes and team physicians about their foot care. This helps to ensure that the athletes are receiving comprehensive care. They recommend that athletes consider seeing a podiatrist for regular maintenance, just as they see an eye doctor to maintain their vision.