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Rebound Clinic - Put your best foot forwardPutting Your Best Foot Forward

Nine months ago Lancaster got a state-of-the-art sports injury clinic. The new lottery-funded clinic at St Martin's College offers the people od Lancaster the experience of a charted physiotherapist, a sports nutritionist and a sports pychologist. One of the other services on offer is the somewhat obscure medical science of podiatry. Reporter James Reader spoke to St Martin's podiatrist Andrew Stanley and some of his patients to learn more about it.

How many of us suffer fromaches and pains? Have you ever thought that it could be down to the way that you walk? It is exactly this that lies at the heart of podiatry - hip, knee, lower back and leg or ankle problems are often caused by a flawed gait. A podiatrist will study the way you walk and if necessary design corrective inserts which are as unique to the sufferers own feet as a pair of glasses are to someone with myopia.

Podiatry is big news in America, where a consultation is said to be as coomon as a trip to the dentist.But ask someone here what podiatry is, and they will probably look at you blankly. This is a pity because this respected medical profession has literally changed the life of two local athletes.

Heysham athlete Chris Stoves had his running career saved by podiatry. "In March last year I started getting sharp pains in my feet during road running," said Chris, 16 "It was getting to the extent when I had to stop my training sessions early."

Courses of physiotherapy did not solve the problem so he visited St. Martin's new podiatrist, Andrew Stanley, at his clinic in Settle. After studying a slowed-down film of Chris running on a treadmill, Andrew found his problem was caused by the fact he was over-pronating and running on the sides of his feet. Chris now runs with a set of inserts called orthoses - whichremove the defect and cut out excess stress and hence the pain.

"Without the inserts that Andrew made me I would have had to have an operation which could have put me out of running for a couple of years." said Chris. "Since then I've had no problems."

Chris has twice been England Schools Champion at middle distance, and won the North of England title twice.

Two years ago it looked as if the promising hockey career of St. Martin's student Hayley Wilson was over before it had barely started. "I had bad shins" said Hayley, 21. "I couldn't play at times because they were so bad. I could only last half a match before I was in agony.

Hayley, who is women's hockey captain at St. Martins as well as a hockey for Cumbria first team and at club level, was referred to Andrew by her physiotherapist. After similar camera analysis Hayley was told that she ran on the sides of her feet. It was then a simple process to make moulds and her orthoses.

"Now I can go out road running. I have no pain at all and no problems." she said.

Among the common injuries that podiatry can successfully treat are shin splints, chronic achilles tendonitis and Osgood Schlatters syndrome - a knee condition which affects 15% of adolescent boys.

By realigning the foot the rest of the body can also be realigned. "The foot is at the end of the chain" explained Andrew, who is also a state registered chiropodist "Any excessive movements come out in the feet."

Andrew reckons a large percentage of us have skeletal malalignment and women suffer more than men. "There are two reasons why women suffer more than men. Firstly, because their hips are wider, so when the upper limb comes in at the knee it does so at an angle rather than running parallel. Secondly, because some women wear high heels which restrict the ankle. "

"There are other factors which can combine to cause problems. In elderly women you can't always correct the problems, but you can alleviate the pain. But a lot of the problems, especially things like bunions tend to run in families, so it is a good idea to take preventative measures and get yourself checked out."

As Andrew points out, podiatry does not, of course, just benefit athletes. Five weeks ago for instance Andrew treated an 82-year old woman who for years had suffered from painful ankles. The woman was brought to his Settle clinic by her sister. Before the woman's treatment she was worried that they might not be able to go on their shopping trips together.

 

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Clinical Director - Andrew Stanley BSc(Hon) PodM, MChS, SRCh.
Company Secretary - Ann Stanley. Company Number 3625143