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Meet a Pedorthist – Isabelle Lavallée

Isabelle Lavallée was only in high school when she was introduced to the pedorthic profession.

She was a volleyball player in high school in her hometown of Joliette, Quebec, and spent 15 hours a week playing and practicing on the court. When she developed knee problems as a result of the sport, she decided to visit a pedorthist for help.

“I’d never heard of the profession before,” says Isabelle, adding that her experience inspired her to become a pedorthist herself. “I always wanted to work in the health profession. I like to help people, and being a pedorthist allows me to do that every day.”

Prior to receiving her certification, Isabelle earned her diploma from College Montmorency for Orthotics and Prosthetics, and for a few years worked with amputees.  As she started working more and more with foot orthotics, she decided to challenge herself further by taking the C. Ped (C) exam and becoming a Canadian Certified Pedorthist.

Since March 2006, she has been working at a sports medicine centre. “I am fortunate enough to work in close collaboration with sport medicine doctors, orthopedists, and physiotherapists.” This kind of collaboration is partly the reason why she remains passionate about her work.

“What I love best about my job is helping people to stay active with less or no pain,” Isabelle says, adding it’s particularly rewarding when her client base grows. “My greatest reward is when my patients refer their family and friends to me.”

Isabelle’s children have also inherited her love of sports and recreation, and in her spare time, she considers herself a soccer mom and volleyball mom who enjoys taking care of her family. In addition, she likes to read, and has continued pursuing her passion for staying active by playing golf, skating, and geocaching.


Meet a Pedorthist – Sharon Horan

In 1995, one of Sharon Horan’s employees convinced her to attend the Pedorthic Association of Canada (PAC) annual conference in Ottawa. Little did she know that attending that conference would set her on a career path that would be both exciting and fulfilling.

At the conference, Sharon became immediately interested in becoming a pedorthist. Having graduated in 1987 from Dalhousie University with a degree in occupational therapy, Sharon was no stranger to the foot and ankle or to orthotics. Her first job as an OT was in rheumatology, where she was responsible for hand-splinting and foot orthotics.

During that Ottawa PAC event she felt that the speakers were fantastic, but it was the questions and commentary that came from the audience that made her realize there was so much she didn’t know, and it made her want to be more effective and improve her patients’ outcomes.

“I literally came home from that conference thinking, I need to be a part of this group,” Sharon said, adding that that’s when she decided to receive her C. Ped (C) designation, which she went on to receive in 1996.

“All these years later I remain clinically connected to patients. I love the impact that pedorthics makes on day-to-day function. Patients see results from our interventions so quickly after an orthotic is dispensed and that is so rewarding.

“I value immensely the continued learning offered through PAC, the professionalism of our industry because of both PAC and CPC [the College of Pedorthics of Canada], and the genuine camaraderie I feel from the great group of clinicians that practice pedorthics all across the country.

Sharon has remained committed to the profession, serving previously as the association’s president as well as chairing the College of Pedorthics of Canada. “One of the greatest honours in my professional life was receiving the Michael Van Vlack award from my pedorthic peers in 2018.”

Sharon is just as busy in her personal life as she is in her working life. In her spare time, she enjoys the great outdoors – hiking, pedal biking, fly fishing, skiing and snowmobiling. She has been very active in her own community as well, serving as past Chair of the St John’s Board of Trade and chairing a fundraising effort to successfully build a Family YCMA in St John’s.


In a Pickle: Preventing Pickleball Sport Injuries

What do you get when you cross tennis with badminton AND table tennis? PICKLEBALL!

I’m hearing lots about it from my clients these days. Contrary to its name, Pickleball does not involve pickles of any kind. It is both a recreational and competitive sport played on a badminton-sized court, with a net set at 34 inches high in the middle, a wiffleball-like ball, and double-sized ping pong-like paddles. It can be played in singles or doubles, much like tennis, and on indoor or outdoor courts.

Originating in a Washington backyard in the mid-1960s, the sport has steadily made its way across the USA since then, growing in popularity so much that today, in the United States alone, the sport boasts an estimated 3.1 million players. As Canadian “snowbirds” visited the US and returned to Canada they brought the sport home with them. In 2017, Canada had an estimated 60,000 registered players, and that number is growing. The sport has gained popularity mainly because it is so easy to learn the skills necessary to play. There is a huge selection of YouTube videos demonstrating just that!

Pickleball, A Sport for All

Pickleball Canada’s slogan, “A Sport for All” is supported by the Sport & Fitness Industry Association statistics: 75% of those who play Pickleball eight or more times per year are 55+ years old, while it’s the 35-54 age group that plays casually (1-7 times per year), proving that it is no longer a sport played in retirement communities alone. There are now Pickleball clubs and facilities in all Canadian provinces and territories. It is played in North America, United Kingdom, India, Spain, Finland, France, Belgium, and New Zealand, so the sport enjoys healthy international competition. Players with diverse sporting backgrounds (sometimes never having been very active before) participate for a whole host of reasons, one being the social element of the game.

Potential Injuries from Pickleball

Of course, with increased participation in any sport comes an increase in the risk of injury. In my Pedorthic clinic, I see the number of Pickleball-related sport injuries on the rise. There are several internal risk factors that predispose someone to a sports-related injury. They include age, gender, body composition (% body fat), history of previous injury, muscle and joint fitness, anatomy, and skill level. Pair some of those factors with external factors such as other players, inadequate equipment, and unpredictable conditions of the playing surface, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for injury.

Like other court sports, the most common Pickleball injuries in the lower body are ankle ligament sprains from rolled ankles, Achilles tendon strains/ruptures from quick stop-starts or changes of direction, plantar fascia strains from overuse, ligament sprains at the knee due to change of direction, and pulled hamstrings from overextension. Upper body injuries like broken wrists and concussions are typically connected to falls on the court.

Despite the risks, many Pickleball-related injuries can be prevented. Here are some Pedorthic tips for preventing and recovering from Pickleball-related injuries:

Footwear

You may think that the most essential piece of equipment to be able to play Pickleball is a ball and paddle. Ask anyone who has played more than one game and they’ll tell you that it’s what is on your feet that is most important. Regular running shoes are the worst option for court sports of any kind. The soling and flared midsole (the part between the sole and upper) can catch on the surface of the court and cause forces to be applied to the foot and leg that are sometimes not well received by the small ligaments and tendons mentioned above.

Before your first Pickleball experience, get yourself a shoe designed specifically for use in court sports. Court shoes are designed specifically for the surface they are being used on, so when shopping for this type of footwear it is important to know whether you’ll be on hardwood or hardcourt. It is also crucial to get the correct size. You do not want to feel insecure in the shoe, like you’re sliding around, but you will want some space around the toes. A ¼-½” space beyond your longest toes is a good amount. To avoid disrupting circulation, tie your shoes securely but not too tight.

Before, During and After the Game

Before a game it is important to get the muscles and joints warmed up. Many Pickleball players will start with “dinking”, sort of like rallying in tennis. You can do some stretching that focuses on the back of the leg (Achilles/calf, hamstrings) and the front of the leg (quads). During the game you’ll want to use your larger muscle groups; bend at the knees and hips (like in a squat) to avoid injuring the lower back.

Sessions can be long, lasting upwards of three hours, so make sure to hydrate throughout and have a snack on hand. After the game you can do some more stretching. You can incorporate balance, stability, and strength exercises to condition for your next session.   

Orthotics and Bracing

You may also benefit from using orthotics (custom or off-the-shelf) or bracing. Orthotics and bracing can help with stability, increasing the information received from the surface you’re on through your feet, and supporting the structures of the feet. Even small modifications made to the liner of your shoe can contribute in a big way towards a more comfortable, injury free, Pickleball experience.

By seeking the advice of a Canadian Certified Pedorthist, or C. Ped (C), your individual needs will be considered to determine which assistive device(s) will be the best solution. A Pedorthic assessment will include taking a detailed history, functional testing and measurements, and, if orthotics or bracing is necessary, a 3-dimensional cast or digital scan of your feet. To find a C. Ped (C) in your area, visit the Pedorthic Association of Canada’s website here.

By Jaime Nickerson, C. Ped (C), B.Sc. (Kin), Dip. Pedorthics 

 

Related Links:

https://www.pickleballcanada.org/

https://www.usapa.org/pickleball-fact-sheet/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pickleball

https://thevolleyllama.com/pickleball-injuries/

https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/37/5/384


Meet a Pedorthist – Peter Morcom

Peter Morcom loves being able to help clients get back to their daily routines – no matter what their background or situation is.

“In pedorthics you get a wide variety in patients from professional athletes, to kids, to diabetics. It allows you to help many different people whether they need help with performance, or just be able to do their daily activities.”

As a native of Maple Ridge, Peter received his kinesiology degree from University of the Fraser Valley. When he graduated, he met two friends and Peter quickly saw that it would be great to work at that company.

Peter received his C. Ped (C) in May 2011. The certification allowed him to manage a clinic and be the main practising pedorthist.

Since then, he has become the director of pedorthics and helps train new pedorthists throughout the company. In his role he also plays a part in recruitment, retention and developing careers for pedorthists.

Peter says he enjoys pedorthics because it is a young profession that has lots of room for growth – which he says he felt he could help with. But he also loves working with different clients everyday.

“What I love most about the job is the variety of people I get to work with, and giving patients hope that they will be able to do the activities they love,” he says. “Many times, patients come in expecting the worst as they have been told they cannot run, play soccer, hike anymore. With use of orthotics, braces or footwear modifications we can allow them to keep doing those activities.”

He says the most rewarding part of his work has been watching new pedorthists pass their tests to become C. Ped (C)s, and practice in the field.

In his spare time, Peter enjoys being outdoors – including golfing, fly fishing, camping, and getting out on the river or in the canoe to go fishing.

He adds that he also enjoys being a PAC board member. “As a PAC board member, I think it is important for everyone to look at how that can help grow the pedorthic profession not only in their area, but in Canada,” Peter says.


Meet a Pedorthist – Johan Steenwyk

Johan Steenwyk, C. Ped (C), C. Ped MC

When Johan Steenwyk was 18 years old, he was still figuring out what he wanted to do for a living – but he always knew he wanted to help people. That’s when Johan looked into the family business, and decided to become an orthopedic shoemaker when living in his native Netherlands. There was a real need for orthopedic shoemakers there at the time.

Johan started apprenticing at Kemerink Orthopedie as part of a program that was subsidized by the Dutch Federation of Orthopedic Shoemakers. The eight-year program also required him to attend school one day a week in s’Hertogenbos, Holland.


Meet a Pedorthist – Jane Cromwell

Jane Cromwell, C. Ped Tech (C), C. Ped (C)

Jane Cromwell has enjoyed a long, fulfilling career in pedorthics, 26 years in fact, but she hasn’t come this far completely on her own. “I couldn’t have gotten here without the help, guidance and knowledge of many fellow pedorthists whom I have worked with throughout my career,” she says.

Jane started out her pedorthic journey with a three-year apprenticeship, then worked her way up by becoming an American Certified Pedorthist, then a C. Ped Tech (C) and finally became certified as a C. Ped (C).


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