Do I Need to See a Biomechanical Podiatrist? - Episode 1

If you have foot, ankle, knee, hip or lower back pain it could be as a result of the way you walk. In this 4-part series, Michael Thompson, a biomechanical podiatrist at Bristol Physio will talk through rehabilitation to help reduce your pain.

Michael first came across Aussie Soles when looking for sandals for his daughters. “What I like about the Aussie Sole flip flops is their lightweight, cushioning and supportive nature…with good arch support for both the length of the foot and across the foot, they can help with a wide variety of conditions”.

Episode 1: Waging War on Early Morning Foot Pain

My focus in this episode is on plantar fasciitis/fasciopathy - the heel pain that will affect at least 10% of the population and is particularly common in the sporting community.

The most common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciopathy. This is the overloading of a biomechanical structure – your natural insole. It seems like it has happened out of nowhere, but it has been developing without you noticing. Gradually your calf and hamstring get tight, this changes the way you walk and this change leads to overuse of the plantar fascia (your natural insole). The resulting pain can be debilitating.

Common symptoms include pain first thing in the morning or after rest. This is because your foot goes into a relaxed position and starts healing the micro tears that were caused by overloading. Then you put weight on it and tear it again. Heel spurs (under the heel) are not the cause of pain, they are showing the overloading of the plantar fascia. My treatment regime would include:

  • Supportive / cushioning footwear at all times, from the first step you take out of bed
  • Stretching to get flexible in your calf, hamstring and plantar fascia
  • Tailored exercises to get strength into your foot and calf
  • Orthotic use to reduce stress on your arch
  • Other treatments might include acupuncture, shockwave therapy or injection therapy.

For sportspeople, post exercise you should:

  • Hydrate and eat protein to help repair your muscle
  • Stretch the muscles you have used
  • Foam roll / massage the muscles
  • Use supportive footwear to take the pressure off your muscles
  • Apply ice / ice baths - if needed
  • Consider active recovery exercises.

Importantly you should always make sure you get enough sleep for your body to recover and have a sensible / realistic training plan with pre and post stretching regimes. 

About Michael:

Biomechanical podiatrist Michael Thompson Bristol Physio

Michael graduated in 2001 with an honours degree in Podiatry from Glasgow Caledonian University. Starting his career in York he developed a great interest in the biomechanical aspect of podiatry. Moving to Australia for 18 months allowed further education and development of his biomechanical skills. For the last 11 years he has worked as the lead biomechanical podiatrist in North Somerset with the Musculoskeletal Service.

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