7 March 2024

Talking the walk: The good oil on preventing foot injuries on the sports field

| Katrina Condie
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man massaging feet

Podiatrists at The Walking Clinic will have you back on the sports field in no time. Photo: Ben Calvert.

Podiatrists don’t just tend to ingrown toenails, bunions and flat feet. They play an important role in treating and preventing sporting injuries.

The Walking Clinic director, podiatrist Ricky Lee, said his team had treated more than 100,000 patients over the past 10 years, including sportspeople and high-level athletes.

“When people think of podiatry, they often think of treating young kids with walking problems or grandma in a nursing home, but modern podiatry goes way beyond that,” he said.

“We help a lot of sportspeople with lower limb, foot and ankle injuries and help them get back to their activities.

“We work on load management, specific exercise programs and provide custom orthotics, plus a whole bunch of extra stuff to get them back on track.”

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Ricky said if people are starting a new sport or getting back into exercise, a podiatrist should be their first step towards preventing injury.

“Many times, people wait to be injured before they seek advice, but prevention is always better than cure,” he said.

“Getting the right footwear or custom-made shoe inserts is important, and we use specialised equipment to detect anomalies in the anatomy and function of the feet and lower limbs to determine appropriate treatments to prevent injuries,” he said.

“As podiatrists, our expertise is biomechanics, and watching how someone moves, or how their foot works can play a big part in preventing injuries, which means they can go further, faster and longer.”

Ricky and his team of 20 podiatrists work across five clinics in the ACT, with a sixth expected to open in Manuka in April or May.

They assist athletes of all ages and all levels and regularly visit sporting groups, including Athletics ACT, Tennis ACT and Touch Football ACT, to talk about injury prevention and foot care.

Ricky’s father, Richard, started The Walking Clinic in 1978, making it the first podiatry practice in Canberra.

After deciding his dream of becoming a professional mountain bike rider was not a sustainable career choice, Ricky studied podiatry at Newcastle University and, following in both his parents’ footsteps, started working alongside his dad in 2012.

Richard is retired but remains a company director, and Ricky has taken the helm alongside the third director, Andrew Thompson.

Since his dad started out, Ricky said podiatry has “come a long way” and is now an important element in a patient’s holistic health plan.

lady on treadmill

At The Walking Clinic, watching how someone moves and how their feet work can play a big part in preventing injuries. Photo: Ben Calvert.

“Our experienced podiatric team provides the most up-to-date and innovative care available. We strive to keep at the forefront of technology and are constantly undertaking new training and technological advances to provide the best treatments possible,” he said.

“Podiatric care plans are individually tailored to meet the needs of our patients and we collaborate with external health providers, including physiotherapists and exercise physiologists, to optimise patient care.”

While treating and preventing sporting injuries is a growing component of their practice, Ricky said The Walking Clinic treats a range of conditions resulting from bone and joint disorders, such as arthritis, injuries to the feet and lower limb, immobility, muscular, neurological or circulatory diseases.

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He said ongoing foot care and assessments were vital for anyone with type 2 diabetes to prevent possible amputation due to infection or poor circulation, while regular monitoring of foot health could help elderly patients maintain their mobility and flexibility.

“We can also help people who have Achilles tendon pain, bunions, chilblains, toenail infections, flat feet, pigeon toes or knock knees,” he said.

Podiatrists can also help with issues you may be embarrassed about, including tinea, foot odour and warts.

They can also help patients suffering from knee, hip, and lower back pain by starting from the ground up.

“We’re called The Walking Clinic, but we’re much more than that – we strive to keep Canberrans walking, running and playing the sports they love,” Ricky said.

Don’t suffer in silence. Speak to the experts at The Walking Clinic and take your first step towards good foot health.


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