When faced with an injury it is important that you receive the correct treatment. There are many different types of practitioners and there is often confusion about which one you should go to. This article will define the difference between a physiotherapist and a podiatrist.
What is a Podiatrist?
A podiatrist can be thought of as a foot doctor. They are your first port of call if you have any foot or ankle problems. They deal with pain in the feet, whether it is a bone or muscular pain. Also, they will help with any foot-related problems such as calluses, hard skin and blisters. For any problems involving the feet or lower extremities, it is best to first approach a podiatrist to seek help. Podiatrists will also advise you what shoes you should be wearing to prevent foot and ankle related problems.
Podiatrists also supply orthotics. Orthotics are insoles which are custom-made to correct foot alignment, preventing over-pronation or supination of the foot. They provide padding, and their structure, tailored to your foot, will help to relieve pain. Often injuries elsewhere in the body other than the foot and ankle can stem from incorrect foot alignment: for example, knee pain or muscle tightness in the leg. It is therefore very important to check your foot alignment is correct. Orthotics are a great way to prevent pain, and they should fit in the majority of your everyday shoes too.
At Run and Become, Natural Gait Analysis is carried out on each customer when being fitted with trainers. This is to check the natural foot movement and spot any weaknesses such as pronation (where your foot arch collapses inwards). There is a wide range of shoes which offer different amounts of support. Often there is a shoe which provides the correct amount of support and orthotics are not needed, but occasionally a shoe will not do the full job, therefore we advise to book an appointment with a podiatrist to look into investing in some orthotics.
What is a Physiotherapist?
Physiotherapists will cover a larger area of problems, and are not specialised in one area of the body like a podiatrist is. Physiotherapists will help people affected by injury, illness or disability, through a range of treatments: including movement and exercise, manual therapy, education and advice. They use different techniques to approach treatment:
- Manual therapy techniques: where they use their hands to relieve muscle pain and stiffness. This stimulates blood flow to the area, aiding recovery.
- Movement and exercise: they will provide you with exercises to improve your injury. They will take your lifestyle and current health into account.
- Other techniques: such as acupuncture, ultrasound and heat & cold therapy.
Physiotherapists are also good to go to for regular checkups to prevent injuries.
It is always best to speak to the practitioner before you book an appointment to discuss what problems you are experiencing. This way they will tell you how they can help and whether they are the best people to see with your particular injury. Good luck!