Monday, May 5, 2008

For Serious Cyclers, The Feet Are Key To Power Production

The problems associated with the feet of cyclists are much different from walking. Common injuries associated with cycling include pain in the Achilles tendon, plantar fasciitis , patellar tendonitis causing kneecap pain, iliotibial band syndrome causing hip pain and pain on the outside of the knee. There are biomechanical problems of the foot that can cause or at least significantly contribute to these condition. However before correcting problems with the foot it is essential to first be sure that the bicycle is properly fit to the rider. This usually requires a specialist with knowledge on the proper biomechanical alignment of the rider to the bike. In addition if the rider is using shoes with cleats and it is critical that the cleats and shoes be properly matched to the rider. Leg length differences, even slight leg length differences, can cause significant biomechanical imbalances for the cyclist and lead to injury. The leg length difference can be difficult to measure accurately but should become evident when being properly fit for the bicycle.

Misalignment of the foot during cycling can result in misalignment of the entire leg leaving the cyclist prone to injury as well as an inefficient power production. In terms of foot orthotics, a rigid orthotic is best suited for the cyclist to prevent pronation and to provide the most efficient force transfer to the pedal. In addition the orthotic should be full length with cushioning for the toes. Forefoot wedging is particularly important for the cyclist to ensure optimal biomechanical alignment of the leg to prevent the common injuries discussed above. If there is a leg length difference this can easily be incorporated into the orthotic.
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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Preventing Tennis Injury

The advance of technology in tennis rackets have led to an increase in the number of injuries. The ball is hit with much more power and at greater a speed which means that the response time of the players has to be all that much faster. Tennis players are required to start, stop, change direction and contort their bodies in unnatural ways constantly throughout the game. This combined with the increased power in which the ball is hit leads the tennis player more prone to injury. Tennis players also spend a lot of time with their body weight concentrated on the ball of their foot. In addition, it is difficult to get the tennis player to stop playing when injured so it is all that much more critical to avoid injury in the first place.

The most common injuries of the tennis player are subungual hematomas, (broken blood vessels under the toe nails), ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, foot and calf cramps, Achilles tendonitis, muscle strains.

Proper foot orthotics can play a significant role in preventing some of these injuries. In particular the foot orthotic should be able to provide shock absorption and arch support to prevent excessive pronation and strain on the plantar fascia. The orthotics should distribute the body weight evenly across the foot the prevent the pain in injury associated with overloading the forefoot. The shoes must fit properly (and accommodate the orthotic) to prevent excessive motion in the shoe which may lead to toenail injury. In addition some players may benefit from orthotics which promote mobility of the great toe.

Today there are orthotics that are specially designed to prevent tennis injuries and keep the tennis player on the court.
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