Biomechanical exam for athletes
The study of the mechanical properties of the human body that affect its movements.
A biomechanical exam for athletes, what is it?
A biomechanical exam is a comprehensive assessment of the way the human body functions while walking and while practising sports. Both static and dynamic tests are conducted to investigate the body’s osteo-articular and muscular functions.
This information is then analyzed in order to identify the source of the problem, establish a podiatric diagnosis and ultimately develop of an appropriate treatment plan.
The podiatrist also studies the patient’s biomechanics thanks to imaging technology. For example, plantar pressures are analyzed using sensors inside the shoes.
This test is particularly interesting for athletes since the pre-treatment and post-treatment data can be compared, allowing the podiatrist to measure the efficiency of a therapeutic procedure in action!
A biomechanical exam for athletes, who is it for?
The biomechanical exam is an indispensable tool in the following cases:
- Athletes aiming to optimize their performance and prevent injuries
- Athletes wishing to identify the source of biomechanical pain
- Bad running technique
- Frequent injuries
- Instability and recurring ankle sprains
- Plantar misalignment (flat or high arches)
- Pain in the feet, ankles, legs, knees, hips or back
- Excessive accumulation of calluses under the feet
- Recurring blisters
- Abnormal or excessive wear and tear of shoes
- Need to validate efficiency of plantar orthotics
What are the earnings of a biomechanical exam for athletes?
- Efficiently identifies the mechanical abnormalities of the patient
- Supports a more accurate diagnosis and the identification of underlying causes
- Helps the patient better understand the issue since the results of the analysis are explained to him on the spot
- Supports the development of an appropriate and personalized treatment plan
- Provides a holistic assessment of the foot and lower limb function
- Provides an overall picture of the patient’s posture
Patient history and physical exam
Review of the patient’s medical history and overview of his training. Functional tests are performed with patient lying down and standing.
Computerized gait and posture analysis
A number of determining biomechanical factors are assessed using pressure sensors connected to cameras.
Digital X-rays and related exams
Various angles are measured to better evaluate bone alignment. Additional exams are sometimes necessary to establish a more exact diagnosis (e.g. diagnostic ultrasound).
The condition and personalized treatment plan are explained
Your podiatrist provides you with an overview of your foot health and suggests a treatment plan based on your needs.
In addition to reviewing the patient’s medical history, the podiatrist compiles information on his overall training program: types of physical activity, intensity, frequency, weights used, previous injuries, objectives and calendar of competitions. He then performs several functional tests with the patient lying down and standing.
Afterwards, a comprehensive gait analysis is conducted thanks to software using pressure sensors connected to cameras. This allows the podiatrist to assess a number of factors that are important in walking and running: distribution of pressure points, trajectory of the mass centre, asymmetry and deviations, synchronism, movement of the various parts of the lower limb, etc.
The same technology is then used to evaluate the patient’s standing posture: weight distribution between both feet, pressure segmentation on the front and back of the feet, deviation and shifting of the mass centre.
The X-rays of the feet are then studied to assess bone and joint health, search for anatomical variations that can negatively impact the feet’s function and most importantly, evaluate alignment by calculating various angles or even the length of certain bones. If the patient has pain, the X-rays can also help pinpoint the diagnosis.
After this exam, additional tests can sometimes be required to establish a more precise diagnosis. For example, if the affected structure cannot be seen on an X-ray, which is the case for tendons and ligaments, an ultrasound may be appropriate. When a leg-length discrepancy is suspected, a scananogram is often necessary to confirm the diagnosis and take more accurate measures.
Finally, once your condition has been analyzed, your podiatrist will provide an overview of your foot health and suggest an appropriate treatment based on your needs if one is required. Depending on your case, he may prescribe stretching and strength-building exercises, plantar orthotics, splints, drugs, manipulative therapy and other treatment modalities (radial shockwave therapy, cortisone injections, etc.).
Podimedic clinics use a unique technology that makes it possible to analyze plantar pressures directly inside the patient’s shoes. This allows the podiatrist to evaluate the feet’s response to an intervention such as plantar orthotics and really know if they are doing their job.
“My orthesist/prosthesist has the same training as a podiatrist to conduct biomechanical exams.”
Even though orthotists or orthesists have appropriate college-level training in the overall biomechanics of the human body, podiatrists have deeper knowledge of the feet and their function. Podiatrists can also prescribe further testing, like X-rays and other imaging tests. Finally, they also have the skills to establish a podiatric, medical diagnosis in addition to prescribing a treatment plan.
“A computer scan is enough to investigate my feet and make appropriate orthotics!”
These generic foot “scans” produce an image of plantar pressures while you are standing. However, this two-dimensional photography does nothing to explain the source of these pressures! To make an appropriate orthosis for each foot, both a static and dynamic investigation of each one is needed, in standing position and lying down.
For example, a foot with a very high arch may have the same footprint as a foot with a fallen arch.