An Inside Look at Game Preparation with Richmond FC Player Brandon Ellis


Today, I catch up with Richmond Football Club’s Brandon Ellis and find out what he does to prepare himself for a game and how things have changed over the last six years.

B_Ellis1.jpg

Jackson:
You were picked up by RFC in the 2011 draft after working your way up through a number of representative and associate teams. How has your preparation before a game changed in that time and is there any superstitions or traditions you take part in?

Brandon:
My game prep hasn’t changed that much, I still go to my parents house for a feed the night before a game if we’re playing in Melbourne, if I’m interstate ill go get some thai with a few of the boys. I put my left sock on first then right sock, left boot, right boot. only on game day this happens haha not sure why but I’ve always been like that.

Jackson:
In the 6 years you have been playing at AFL level you have had a minimal number of missed games. What do you believe keeps you on the park so consistently without injury?

Brandon:
I believe what has kept me on the park consistently is that i look after my body so much because at the end of the day its my most important tool. I do an extra gym session/core session on my day off followed by getting a 2 hour massage. I source out and get osteo the day before a game also, if I’m interstate i will go to the osteo the day we leave or 2 days before.

Jackson:
Talking about injuries, has there been anything of significance over your football career which you think may have been of larger hindrance if not taken care of as soon as it had been? And how did you handle those injuries?

Brandon:
I have rally only had a scope on my shoulder thats been my biggest injury but that happened in the off season so i didn’t miss anything. I did my hamstring in my 2nd year which made me miss 2 weeks but other than that I’ve been pretty lucky *touchwood

Jackson:
What footy boots and general footwear to you typically wear and is that associated with a sponsorship deal?B_Ellis2.jpg

Brandon:
I grew up wearing all sorts of different boots, whatever my parents could afford, when i got drafted i wore adidas before i come onboard with Puma the last 2 years.

Jackson:
When your not training, playing or preparing for a game, how do you typically relax?

Brandon:I like to go out for lunches and dinners. I love going for walks and listening to music and also my biggest relaxation is i love to nap more than anything. Its so important for your body.

Jackson:
What is your favourite type of training you do at the club, why and what advantages do you believe it delivers to your game.

Brandon:
I love being in the gym and doing weights. I believe it has helped me get so much stronger and I’m so much more confident in my body that when game day comes i can absorb the big hits and my body can cope with the niggles that come out of the game.

Thanks Brandon

Until Next Time

Jackson McCosker
Director/ Chief Editor

Metatarsal Stress Fractures & Management


Breaking Bad - Breaking Bone (1)

It happens to everyone, you get a sudden urge to get fit, you increase a training load to reach that desired Personal Best, and you start a new job where you change from office desk jockey to trekking the pavement in shoes which were made for being a desk jockey. At first it’s a feeling of fatigue, your body, legs hurt, a couple of sharp pains here and here but hey, once you get home kick off the shoes, maybe walk on the carpet or put the feet up that pain subsides and you forget about it for another day.
Unfortunately, over the next 3-4 weeks that pain which once disappeared at the end of a long day is still around, the use of voltarin or ice packs are working less and less; the pain has finally come to a stage where you think “maybe it is time I see a professional about this”.

Pathophysiology
A stress fracture can be defined as a complete or partial continuity of bone. Stress fractures develop due to an overloading of a particular hard tissue structure where; increased shear forces lead to the stimulation of osteoclast activity and eventual bone resorption which outweighs the bone’s strengthening and adaption to stress by way of osteoblasts remodelling. This can occur due to a number of both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Biomechanical abnormality is commonly the first assessed area of risk, however it has been proposed by (Diehl, Best, & Kaeding, 2005) that soft tissue overuse and fatigue may lead to focal bending beyond the physiological and structural tolerance of a bone creating micro fracture initiation.
Stress fractures do not heal via the formation of callus similar to traditional traumatic breaks but by way of direct remodelling spanning the fracture line, this in turn leads to a much slower healing time comparable to that of a non-unionized fracture.

Risks (intrinsic/extrinsic)
The risk factors which can contribute to a stress fracture can be categorized into intrinsic and extrinsic. Quite commonly it is indicated to be a combination of both categories which lead to the onset of pain associated with stress fractures.  Below is a table which separates the potential risk factors into their specific categories;

Stress Fracture / Stress Reaction Risk Factors
Intrinsic Extrinsic
– Nutrition

– Hormonal Deviation

– Gender

– Age

– Race

– Bone Density

– Sleep

– Collegen Disease
– Autoimmune Disease

– Female Triad
     +Disorder Eating
+Low Bone Density
+Menstrual Disturbances

– Type, Duration, Intensity, Rhythm of Training

– Poor Footwear Choices

– Sporting Equipment

– Poor Physical Conditioning

– Training Location

– Environment and Surface

– Temperature/Climate

– Recovery Time

– Previous Injury

Populations

Although still widely debated it is believed to be the female sex who is more likely to experience stress fractures than their male counter parts. This may be due to the existence of the Female Triad outlined in Intrinsic Risks which suggests that a combination of Disordered Eating, Menstrual Disturbance (hormone changes) and Low Bone Density create a significant structural deficit within the bone (Iwamoto & Takeda, 2003). Additionally, a female athlete who competes or trains with male counter-parts also have an increased risk due to physical differences such as appropriate stride length.
Goodwillie, Nussbaum and Gatt, found in a study of adolescent athletes that lower limb stress fractures were by far the most common, with the following numbers published in regard to area of fracture and sports where stress fractures are likely to occur:

Stress Fracture Male Female
48% Tibia

19% Metatarsals

10% Fibula
6% Spine

6% Pelvis

4% Rearfoot

4% Femur

26% Track & Field

23% American Football
19% Cross Country

28% Track & Field

23% Cross Country

In note with the figures shown t (Weel, Opdam, & Kerkhoffs, 2014) found that Endurance athletes were more like to suffer stress reaction or stress fracture injuries. Alternatively, children were found to be less likely to develop these conditions, which may be due to the anatomical differences in bone structure at a cellular level creating increase flexibility within the hard tissue

Clinical Findings
Clinically, a patient will most likely have an active lifestyle (not necessarily sporting) shutterstock_330042026which has been reduced recently with the gradual worsening of a pain which had an insidious onset and now is chronic in character. Alternatively, it is not uncommon to have a client speak of a moment of intense pain, which quickly reduced but has remained a chronic low grade pain for some time now.
A change in lifestyle through; activity level, diets, type of activity or footwear all contribute, as seen in the risk factors above.
Typically the client will be at least of adolescent age or begun maturation.
Local tenderness is present, there is pain during facilitated movement and there is palpable swelling.

The navicular stress fracture is known as a high risk fracture (discussed later) and can display a number of different clinical findings given its physical and physiological structure.  The bone is a boat shaped keystone of the medial arch which is positioned between the three cuneiforms and the talus. Given its keystone status the navicular becomes impinged between the previously discussed bones during foot strike with maximum force focused at the central third of the navicular itself. Although the navicular is supplied with blood from both the anterior and posterior arteries, they unfortunately only feed the medial and lateral thirds of the bone, leaving it avascular and with significantly poor ability to heal efficiently (Khan, Fuller, Brukner, Kearney, & Burry, 1992).
Coris & Lombardo, found that in 81% of clients who were diagnosed with a navicular stress fracture, were found to be tender at the “N” Spot – the dorsally central region of the navicular bone. Additionally, patient would have increased pain with closed-chain plantarflexion and hopping.

Imaging
Medical imaging for stress reaction and stress fractures is an area of interest for a number of reasons. Each form of appropriate imaging has pros and cons which largely rotated around the following points; Cost, Availability, Sensitivity, Specificity and Radiation Exposure. As discussed in a previous article in 2014, I believe as practitioners we are not the patient’s financial adviser – we are present to provide the best possible options available, educate the patient on the pros and cons and suggest our most preferred option for them to pursue – therefore cost is not a point of concern when referring a patient unless specifically objected too.
Sensitivity is of importance, being made aware of an issue and ruling in/out pathologies of concern is of great use to a practitioner and can have a direct impact on treatment of the area of complaint. The modality of X-Ray has not been found to be reliably sensitive to the presence of stress reactions or stress fractures, especially within the first 2-4weeks of symptoms presenting. According to a study by (Weel, Opdam, & Kerkhoffs, 2014) X-ray has only been found to show 30% of stress fractures of the Tibia and 15% of the calcaneal, with the fibula based injuries not being visible for at least four weeks post symptoms and sesamoid stress fractures being unable to identify between a fracture and bipartite/tripartite sesamoid.
Alternatively the use of CT scan has increased sensitivity which can make it difficult to distinguish between than which is a stress reaction and a stress fracture – this can be of the utmost importance when assessing fractures believed to be High Risk.
Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) is both sensitive to stress related injury and specific in diagnosing the condition, by far it provides the most amount of information to a practitioner of all the modalities used for stress injury investigation and there is little to no exposure of radiation to a patient. This type of imaging has been promoted when a practitioner suspects stress fractures/reactions of the tibia, talus, calcaneus or navicular (Duarte Jr & Silva, 2014).
There are downsides to this particular modality including; small confined area being involved (claustrophobia), those with metal plates or aneurism clip being contraindicated and availability of MRI within some districts – particularly those of regional or rural existence.

Categorizing and Risk Status
By classifying and categorizing stress fractures it allows for practitioners to decide on the most appropriate form of treatment. The New Classification System by Kaeding & Miller (2013) looks to classify stress fractures into one of five categories based on both objective and subjective findings when assessing a patient. The classification identifies the following grades of a stress fracture:
Grade I: Asymptomatic stress reaction on imaging.
Grade II: Pain but no fracture line on imaging.
Grade III: Non-displaced fracture
Grade IV: Displaced fracture
Grade V: Fracture with non union.

Additionally, the two categories of High and Low Risk are based on the anatomical and physiological issues associated with the area of complaint. Just because a stress fracture may been seen as Low Risk does not necessary mean that the injury has no risk and this should be taken into consideration during treatment planning with the patient; discussing both the benefits and deficits of continued athletic participation against partial or complete rest. Gradual progression into activity should be done so at approximately 10% per week.
Those who are unfortunate enough to sustain a stress fracture of High Risk are not recommended to complete activity until such time as complete treatment and healing of injury has been achieved.

Treatment
The prompt diagnosis and treatment of an athlete with a stress fracture which is believed to be of High Risk is significantly important in minimizing the impact upon the athlete’s career (Diehl, Best, & Kaeding, 2005). General theory and protocol for stress reactions and fractures; is the use of rest or activity modification to allow for remodelling of bone which is under stress. Additionally, education relating to the patient’s increased workload contributing to the incidence, nutritional intake and hormonal state may also play a key role in general consultation (Weel, Opdam, & Kerkhoffs, 2014).
More specifically treatment options advocated for stress fractures of the following structures, as well as, their risk status and specific populations have been tabled below.

Structure Risk Status Conservative Tx Surgical Tx Population
Metatarsal I-IV Low CAM Boot 4-8weeks with gradual activity increase after. If conservative treatment fails, followed by 6-8weeks in a CAM boot Dancers, Sprinters, Military Recruits  and short distance runners
Metatarsal V High Non weight bearing cast for minimum of 6weeks Srew fixation recommended in athletes Football(All Codes) and Basketball

Finally, before the implementation of a rehabilitation program it is important that any risk factor which was identified as a potential cause or contributor to the development of a stress fracture is addressed. Obviously, this is much easier to achieve in regards to extrinsic contributors than intrinsic however, ensuring the client has a more efficient personal awareness of limitations without encouraging fear avoidance is an achievable goal for a practitioner.

Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation should be focused on returning the client to their previous state of athletic ability. The achievement of this process is not something to be rushed and each stress fracture may have a number of different methods in completing this goal.
Rehabilitation or at a minimum body maintenance may begin very early within the treatment of a client. Programming exercise regimes which are inclusive of non-weight bearing activities allow for cardio and strength maintenance. Cycling, Swimming, Water Running and machines such as the Elliptical Trainer can be utilized to reduce conditioning deficit as a result of injury.
Although much of the time for clients of non-elite level, measures of pre-injury flexibility, range of motion, strength, agility, speed and power are not recorded and do not allow for specific recognition of pre-injury ability. However, it is important that the practitioner in combination with the client develop a number of goals within these areas to insure that a return to sport strategy can be scheduled.

Return To Sport
Non-weight bearing bones such as the fibula and Low Risk stress fractures have a much faster return to sport expectation than bones associated with weight bearing or of High Risk. By over treating patients with Low Risk stress fractures by way of unnecessary surgery issues such as body deconditioning and decreasing competition fitness can increase the time it takes a client to return to sport. Approaches of conservative measures allow for activity and maintenance of body conditioning while minimizing significant complications. Alternatively, stress fractures of particular anatomical sites which are subject to non-union, poor healing times and significant complications should be treated with the best available treatment and invasively is deemed necessary as soon as possible (Diehl, Best, & Kaeding, 2005).

Conclusion
This topic has been a large one, and in all honesty much bigger than I had anticipated. The scary thing about it is that it could be completed in further detail and in the future may just be done.
At the end of the day, diagnosing a patient with a stress fracture as early as possible has a significant influence on their return to sport or activity. For this reason by-passing a plain radiography would be considered plausible in placement of CT or MRI.
Setting goals with your patient to be reached and establishing realistic time frames for rehabilitation when considering the stress fractures risk level is also necessary. If advocated, at the very least it does not hurt to refer for surgical opinion and for that matter should the same treatment you would suggest for an elite athlete not be at least discussed with your average client, being best practice?

That’s a question to ponder on and I’ll leave this conclusion on the short side.
FootNotes next article will be on Pain, because in many cases, the treatment of such a complex physiological response is the reason many patient approach us in the first place.

Until next time.

FootNotes

 

References

Coris, E. E., & Lombardo, J. A. (2003). Tarsal Navicular Stress Fractures. American Family Physician , 85-90.

Diehl, J. J., Best, T. M., & Kaeding, C. C. (2005). Classification and Return to Play Considerations for Stress Fractures. Clinics In Sports Medicine , 17-27.

Duarte Jr, A., & Silva, A. (2014). Stress Fractures in the Foot and Ankle of Athletes. Rev Assoc Med Bras , 512-517.

Goodwille, A. G., Nussbaum, E., & Gatt Jr, C. (2010). Stress Fractures in Adolescent Athletes. New Jersey, United States of America: Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Handoll, R. H., & Ashford, R. (2005). Interventions for Preventing and Treating Stress Fractures and Stress Reactions of Bone of the Lower Limbs in Young Adults (Review). The Cochrane Collaboration , 1-66.

Iwamoto, J., & Takeda, T. (2003). Stress Fractures in Athletes: Review f 196 Cases. Journal of Orthopaedic Science , 273-278.

Kaeding, C., & Miller, T. (2013). The Comprehensive Description of Stress Fractures: A New Classification System. Journal of Bone Joint Surgery of America , 1214.

Khan, K. M., Fuller, P. J., Brukner, P. D., Kearney, C., & Burry, H. C. (1992). Outcome of conservative and Surgical Management of Navicular Stress Fracture in Athletes. The American Journal of Sports Medicine , 657-666.

OrthopaedicsOne Articles. (2010). Base of 5th Metatarsal Fracture.

Weel, H., Opdam, K., & Kerkhoffs, G. (2014). Stress Fractures of the Foot and Ankle in Athletes, an Overview. Clinical Research on Foot and Ankle .

 

 

 

James Frawley’s Turf Toe Injury: What Is it?


jf2Turf Toe is a dreaded injury, specifically among those who play contact sport. The injury is associated with a constant jamming or hyperextension of the 1st (big) toe joint leading to an injury of the ligament supporting the joint or the joint itself. It will commonly occur on much harder grounds such as those made from artificial surfaces or those which have experienced significant drought. The first toe joint is a primary lever system for the powerful propulsion of a player and can leave them out of action for a significant amount of time.

Turf toe has been one of the most undertreated and over simplified injuries of the foot, the identification and following management protocols require a complete and systematic assessment of the foot as a whole and then the narrowing and specification of the first toe complex.
The severity of a first toe joint hyperextension injury is directly correlated to the amount of energy which is generated at the time of injury and the extent at which the toe is pushed past the individual’s available range of motion. Frimenko et al showed that those who had less than 78 degrees available at the first metatarsal phalangeal joint were 50% more like to sustain a turf toe injury.
The biomechanical pathogenesis of a turf toe injury is the excessive extension moment under increased force of the plantar capsule leading to an injury of the capsuloligamentous structures surrounding the first metatarsal phalangeal joint. Up to eight times an athlete’s body weight can be transmitted through the toe during an extensive moment which has the potential to rupture the capsule.

Contributing factors which are seen to increase the likelihood of a first to injury include; highly flexible shoes, increased forefoot contact time, the changing properties of artificial turf over time from increased play upon the surface, both varus and valgus stress mechanisms and the use of synthetic turf. The injury has been commonly viewed in the United States where synthetic turf has been available for field play for quite some time with Gridiron (American football) being played on these type surfaces since the late 1970’s.
The standard imaging desired for the identification of a turf toe injury is plain radiograph, with specific attention being paid to observations of malalignment or small avulsions at the first metatarsal phalangeal joint or chondral injury – sesamoid position can also be viewed. MRI is suggested if there remains a suspicion of injury which is not noted by plain radiograph.

Grade Description Management
One Least severe injury which commonly will be the result of a minor stretch without the compromise of tissue properties. There can be local edema, with little change in range of motion and the patient can weight-bear. Medical imaging will show no abnormality. 3-5 days in a boot
Protective mobilization with taping
NSAIDs
Ice
Strengthening
Two A partial tear of the capsule or ligaments surrounding the first MTPJ with diffuse pain and increased tenderness as well as mild edema. Strictly 2 weeks min non-weight bearing
Protective mobilization
1st Ray rehabilitation
Taping for return to sport
Custom orthotic with mortons extension
Three Acute plantar capsuligamentous disruption or chronic injury with high level of pain and tenderness Surgery is required
No weight bearing for 4-6 weeks
1st ray rehabilitation
Taping for return to sport
Custom orthotic with mortons extension

 
As you can see, such is the case with most soft tissue injuries, the best approach to take when treating Turf Toe is through a multi-facet one. Off-loading devices, strength and conditioning exercises and full range of motion rehabilitation is required to yield the best results.
Until next time, thanks for reading.

 

FootNotes

References

Boike, A., Schnirring-Judge, M., & McMillin, S. (2011). Sesamoid Disorders of the FIrst Metatarsophalangeal Joint. Clinical Podiatry Medicine and Surgery, 2 – 16.

Childs, S. (2006). The Pathogenisi and Biomechanics of Turf Toe. Orthopaedic Nursing, 276 – 280.

Frimenko, R., Lievers, W., O’Rielly, P., Park, J., Hogan, M., Crandall, J., & Kent, R. (2013). Development of an Injury Risk Function for First Metatarsophalangeal Joint Sprains. Medicine and Science in Sport & Exercise, 2144 – 2150.

Jennings, D., & Gissane, C. (1994). Turf-Toe: Super League Toe. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 31-164.

VanPelt, M., Saena, A., & Allen, M. (2013). Turf Toe Injuries. In Sports Medicine and Arthroscopic Surgery of the Foot and Ankle (pp. 13 – 28). San Antonio: Department of Sports Medicine.

 

The Evolution of Athletic Footwear: A History


caligaeIt’s been almost 2100 years since Pheidippides ran from Greece to Athens in terra cotta boots to deliver his important message and sparking the Legend of Marathon. Since that time the development of athletic footwear has come a long way in design, materials, promotion, lawsuits and claims of ability. This article takes us back through the major developments of athletic footwear from the over decorated flower pot to today’s array of specialised sport equipment for the feet.

In the 300AD shoes began to be used for different reasons for the first time. Many of the different clog, boot and sandal materials which had been utilized over the years such as animal hide, reeds and woods were used as the materials to make specialized footwear. The wealthier of the time would have pairs for shopping, events and farming; while the poor may have a pair for work and a pair for inside the home (if they were lucky).

The 16th Century saw the development of the first American shoe factory with commercial quantities of shoes being manufactured as the modest cobbler became a cunning entrepreneur. At this time the primary structure of shoes were a wooden sole and leather upper until 1892 when the pre-curser shoe model for the Converse All Stars (The Keds) was released sporting the first rubber sole and canvas upper, producing a lighter, more breathable and cushioned shoe for the market.
The 1920’s were the rise of the highly cushioned, light athletic shoe. New Balance Arch Co. were the first to claim that their shoes were the answer to aching feet and Converse released their still popular and one of the first commercially placed basketball shoes the ALL STAR and followed up three years later with the equally popular edition of the CHUCK TAYLOR. From this point the association of sports footwear and high profile athletes was melded and the history of the modern athletic shoe was changed forever.

The 1936 Olympics in Berlin saw a young Jesse Owens donned in Germany’s own sporting brand ADIDAS and taking home 4 Gold medals to the United States only three years before the beginning of World War II. The victories only increased America’s obsession with track and cross country running leading to development of spiked shoes for traction.

The 1960’s saw the development of the first Shod Vs Barefoot debate, but with social media still almost half a century away the debate was soon forgotten as New Balance release there next big claim in athletic footwear the “TRACKSTER” a shoe claimed to stop shin splints, weighing only 11 ounces and coming in at a retail price of $US15 it quickly became a crowd favourite. Shortly there-after with running shoes being a popular discussion point, the first running shoe review was published and Runner centred retail stores opened their doors ala The Athletes Foot (1972).

The 1970’s saw the practice of jogging come into play for health benefits and fun. Withfixx_shoes commercial quantities of shoes being produced and sold within specialty stores they quickly became affordable and accessible to almost everyone – and here begins battle of the brands!
Nike developed their waffle trainer providing cushioning and traction to a light weight shoe without the need for spikes, while Brookes produced the first ever EVA midsole and varus wedged shoe in the VANTAGE promoting what was the early brainstorm of motion control in footwear; and finally Red Onitsuka Tiger racing flats take best seller before mass production of running shoes is moved overseas allowing the space aged air cushioned Nike Tailwind to enter the market.

The 80’s and 90’s were dominated by Nike, Reebok and Adidas; with brands like Brookes, New Balance and Dunlop taking a backseat in the market. New Balance did release the first athletic shoes to retail at $100 but with the height of the American Stock Market in the early 80’s and the removal of the US dollar from the gold standard, money was no longer what money used to be. The customer was more interested in technology and cosmetics with both ADIDAS and REEBOK taking advantage of this gap in the market place with the release of the MICROPACER; the first piece of footwear with the technical insertion of a pedometer and the iconic PUMPS which could be inflated to give the feeling of walking on air.

In the mid 90’s the barefoot vs shod debate kicked off again after the World Steeplechase Championships was won by a barefoot athlete. A few magazines published articles and health professionals were asked repeatedly what their thoughts were, but the internet was still teetering away at 28kps and even MSN was yet to be released amongst those lucky enough to be connected.

The Naughties brought what could only be described as a continuum of footwear productions, with the release of the NIKE FREE in 2004 as a “training tool”, closely followed by the Vibram FiveFingers in 2005 (previously an amphibious clog for kayaking) and the highly promoted “Born to Run” book being published the minimalistic motion of the ideal run was in full swing. Unfortunately for Vibram this ended in a large class action for health benefits it claimed to have which were later found to be implausible.
At the other end of the scale you have the revolt of the HOKA ONE ONE a maximalist shoe which boasted more than 2cm of cushioning and very little perceptive feedback. The complete opposite end of the continuum set but those shoes known primarily as traditional athletic shoes were still the most post popular despite the surge in sales of the polar opposites.

The scale I believe looked something like this:

 

Barefoot                                                                              Traditional                                                           Maximalist

|———————————————————————-|———————————————————|

So with 3D printing already becoming a big thing in the market place and technology such as smart phones and fitbits etc. selling fast it is difficult to imagine what may come of the next big development in sports and athletic footwear.

I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Until Next Time

 

Jackson McCosker
Podiatrist

References

Brachmann, S. (2014, May 18). The Evolution of the Modern Athletic Shoe: A Patent History.

Fuehrer, D., & Douglas, S. (2014). Runners World. Retrieved from A Brief History of the Running Shoe: http://www.runnersworld.com/running-shoes/a-brief-history-of-the-running-shoe

The History of The Athletic Shoe. (2012). Retrieved from http://visual.ly/history-athletic-shoe

 

 

(Brachmann, 2014)

(The History of The Athletic Shoe, 2012)

(Fuehrer & Douglas, 2014)

Dance From The Heart – Irish Dancing: An Interview with Kaia Lang


kaia 1
Hi! My name’s Kaia Lang and I’ve been a competitive Irish Dancer for 20 years. I reached State and National level by the time I was 7 and since then I’ve continued to compete at this level, achieving the state title in 2009, and podium places at Nationals multiple times in my late teens. By the age of 15, I was qualifying for the World Championships and have been lucky enough to compete in Dublin and Glasgow at this prestigious event, as well as the All Ireland Championships in Dublin and the Great Britain Championships in England. Irish Dancing has been my passion throughout my life, and I’m currently studying to sit my teacher’s exam, so it will always be a huge part of my life.

  1. What drew you to Podiatry?

Being a dancer and having a strenuous training regime since a very young age, injuries are unfortunately sometimes part of it. I needed to see podiatrists, as well as physios etc, myself at times and this is what opened the world of podiatry to me. As I got older, it was a profession I could see myself doing and thought that one day I’d love to incorporate my dance knowledge into the field.

  1. Performing as an artistic athlete requires many different skills and abilities which you may not see in your traditional sports athlete, what does it take to be involved in your area of competition?

I guess a major difference between traditional sports athletes and dancers, is that not only do you have to be the strongest, the fittest, or the most agile, you also have to make it look good while you do it! So, there’s this aesthetic part of dance that requires poise, grace, rhythm and technique, that may not necessarily be required in other sports. As a competitive dancer, you have to hone your performance to be strong, technically perfect, make it look effortless, stay in time, perform for the judges and the crowd, and make it look like you’re enjoying yourself!

  1. Is there specific training involved? Although perhaps not traditionally utilized do you believe there is room for a strength and conditioning component to your training?

Training for Irish Dancing is largely dance based, in that we learn the steps and drill them to perfection. Then will dance full dances over and over again for stage fitness. From my own training experience, 4-5 classes a week at around 2 hours each is very normal. As I’ve furthered my podiatric career I’m now seeing the need and room in dance training for more strength and conditioning within our sport. Every dancer would benefit from strength training by getting the right advice about which muscle groups to target and how to perform specific exercises to get the most out of their bodies, while also reducing the amount of overuse injuries as much as possible.

  1. As a podiatrist but also an artistic athlete, how to do feel about the impact of the dancing you do on the lower limb from an injury and future issue perspective?

There’s no denying that Irish Dancing is hard on the lower limb and foot. In Solo dancing, we don’t use our upper body and keep our arms very still and straight by our sides So, all the force, strength and load comes from and goes through the lower limb. Injuries within the sport will always unfortunately be present at one time or another. Acute sprains and strains sometimes just happen when you’re putting your body through somethkaia2ing that strenuous, regardless of the amount of strength, conditioning and preparation you do. An area that I think Podiatry can help greatly in though, is in the area of overuse injuries, like stress fractures and tendinopathies. Increasing conditioning and honing training regimes to allow our bodies to heal when needed, and perform accurately is so important.

In terms of future issues, from personal experience its common to have digital deformities from the tight dance shoes and toe work we perform. A lot of older dancers have arthritic digits and after years of ankle sprains have very lax lateral ankle ligaments. I don’t see is as being much different from many footballers needing knee replacements years down the track for example! It’s just part of such a physical sport, and I still wouldn’t take any of it back or change a thing!

  1. What do you have planned for the future? Do you have advice for any other young budding dancers out there?

I still compete at National level in Teams dancing will do for the rest of 2017; as well as studying for my teacher’s exam at the same time which is held at the end of the year. Whether or not I start my own school, I’m not sure! But dancing will always be a part of my life in one way or another. One thing that I’m now always thinking about is how I can more so incorporate my dance knowledge into my Podiatry practice to benefit all young dancers out there.

My advice to those dancers is to listen to your bodies and know when you need a rest! Pushing yourself too far never has a good outcome and you put yourself at risk of injury which only leads to time away from dance. Take the advice from the health professionals you see! It’s in your own best interest. Even if doing exercises and stretches seems tedious at times, it will make you a stronger and better dancer. And lastly, just love what you do. Dance has to come from the heart.