What does a Sports Podiatrist do?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 17 January 2019
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Foot and ankle injuries are very common in sports. Without proper treatment, an athlete's minor foot issue can turn into a larger, potentially career ending condition. A sports podiatrist is a medical professional who specializes in treating such sports-related foot and ankle problems. He or she focuses on diagnosing an athlete's condition, incorporating a successful treatment plan, and providing products and information to prevent future injuries.

A sports podiatrist identifies problems by carefully examining a patient's foot. When creating a treatment plan, he or she takes into consideration the potential hazards inherent in an athlete's sport, as well as the needs of the individual athlete. Depending on the severity of a problem, he or she might prescribe a medication, design a rehabilitation program, or simply provide information on how to avoid future issues. Under certain circumstances, a sports podiatrist may be required to perform surgery to repair a broken bone or damaged ligament.

Sports podiatrist work hard to promote and maintain foot health. They must be knowledgeable about different retail products, such as specialized shoes, that may help athletes prevent foot injuries. Sports podiatrists often correspond with other professionals, health organizations, and product manufacturers to stay up-to-date on the latest advances in foot and ankle care.


To become a sports podiatrist in the US, one must first obtain a bachelor's degree and be granted admission into a college of podiatric medicine. Gaining admission can be difficult; there are only eight accredited podiatric medicine schools in the United States. Once admitted, a hopeful sports podiatrist must take four years of courses with a special focus on sports medicine to obtain a degree of podiatric medicine (DPM). Once a DPM is achieved, one must complete a two-year residency program and pass a licensing test.

Often, podiatrists form group practices with other doctors, though some choose to operate individual, private practices. A sports podiatrist operating a private practice must, in addition to providing patient care, assume the duties associated with running a business. He or she must handle administrative responsibilities, hire staff, and promote the business to the public.

Some sports podiatrists work solely with professional or college athletes, though most cater to the general public. Many offer their services to people who do not directly engage in sports. There is a growing interest in exercise and fitness among the general population, which means that more and more people need access to the information and services provided by sports podiatrists.



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