Podiatrist’s, by definition, are foot and ankle experts. They spend all day, every day, working on this one area of the body. Still, many are surprised to hear we are the chief practitioners guiding patients from surgery back to strong healthy walking and active hobbies.
What does foot and ankle rehabilitation mean?
The foot and ankle is a complex structure comprising 33 joints. That is a lot of moving parts! These moving parts need to work as a team with the muscles, tendons and ligaments to keep you standing, walking and running. Thankfully, we have an incredibly valuable chief controller of all these parts, your brain.
Leading into surgery, many feet and ankles have not worked well for some time due to pain. Other feet and ankles have suffered a recent injury, severe enough to need surgical repair.
In the period after surgery, the job of your podiatrist is to re-train the coordination and strength of the foot and ankle muscles, tendons and ligaments to get you back standing, walking and enjoying active hobbies or sport.
What does foot and ankle rehabilitation look like?
One of the best things about foot and ankle rehabilitation after surgery is, you do not have to learn new skills. Learning something new takes quite a long time. But for feet and ankles, rehabilitation involves teaching these important body parts to do the job they once did. For some, it may feel like a long time since their feet and ankles were strong and healthy, but they were.
Surgery rehabilitation first involves training your feet and ankles to move with good coordination. As this improves, training shifts to strengthening this coordinated movement. The impact of strong, well-coordinated feet is felt all through your body. Overall balance is a huge beneficiary of strong, well-coordinated feet and ankles.
Walking training for post-surgery rehabilitation
An often overlooked aspect of building strong feet and ankles is how we use them when we walk. On a quiet day, your feet will take several thousand steps. That is a lot of repetitions. Even the most obsessed gym junkies do not do that many sit ups or bicep curls.
After surgery, you do not need to get taught to walk again. You need to get taught to walk well!! Your podiatrist will look for poor habits you have picked up from walking in pain prior to surgery. Your podiatrist will also help you reverse habits developed from wearing a walking boot after surgery.
Teaching strong, smooth walking is incredibly valuable to rehabilitation. At the Wollongong Foot and Ankle Centre, we leave nothing to chance here. We use advanced force plate technology, with computer video assessment, to assess your walking at multiple stages throughout rehabilitation.
The end goal of foot and ankle rehabilitation
Successful foot and ankle rehabilitation results in well-coordinated feet, working with your brain to provide stability and balance, to achieve strong, smooth walking. The Podiatry team at the Wollongong Foot and Ankle Centre spend their workdays helping patients achieve this goal.