Are We Contributing to Our Pain?

The importance of choosing appropriate equipment for any athletic pursuit is of utmost importance in preventing pain and dysfunction.

Whether activity involves a 30 minute walk in the park with your dog or a highly competitive game of tennis, choosing the correct equipment can be the difference between pain or gain.

Equipment may range from simple footwear to more complex racquets or sticks; to expensive and highly sophisticated items such as bicycles and motor vehicles.

Three major pieces of equipment play a major role in the development of sports injuries – footwear, racquets and bicycles.

Over the past two decades running shoes have become increasingly more complex and specialised.   The assessment of foot type and function is imperative in deciding the most suitable shoe.  They must fit correctly and the laces must be firm enough for motion control.  Running shoes need to be changed every 1,000 km which is approximately every 6 – 9 months for runners and 12 months for walkers.

The constructions of many types of football boots provide inadequate support for the lower limb.  They should be of adequate depth in the upper, have a rigid heel counter, sufficient forefoot flexibility and have a wide sole with ‘cleats’ placed to allow forefoot flexibility.  Netball and tennis shoes require support for sideways movement.  Wearing running shoes for these sports may lead to ankle sprains, while wearing tennis or netball shoes for running may lead to problems such as ‘shin splints’.

Racquets are used in sports such as tennis, squash, badminton and table tennis.  The choice of a tennis racquet may be a contributing factor to ‘tennis elbow’.  Things that need to be considered include string tension, flexibility of the racquet, size of head, weight and grip size.

Overuse injuries in cycling may be associated with incorrect bike set up.  Seat height, saddle position, handlebar position, pedal resistance and peddling technique if incorrect may contribute to musculoskeletal pain such as neck and back pain, shoulder and wrist pain and knee pain to name a few.

When choosing any piece of equipment you need to get correct advice from a professional to avoid unnecessary pain and injury.

By Melanie Roberts

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