First, your weight is placed lightly on the balls of your feet, balanced between your front and rear foot. Then there is a slight shift to the back foot, then another shift back to the front. Sound like dance steps? These intricate movements describe what goes on below the knees during an ordinary golf swing.
During the golf swing the body acts as a whip, power production starts with the feet pushing against the ground. The foot pivots and provides intrinsic lateral movement to enable the hip to fully rotate around a fixed leg position. Each foot moves differently during a golf swing, the back foot must allow for more pronation during the follow through of the golf swing than the front foot. This motion repeated over an extended period of time can easily lead to the various golf foot injuries. If biomechanical problems are present in your swing, they will invariably cause symptoms when walking the golf course as well. Addressing biomechanical problems in walking may therefore result in the secondary benefit of an improved swing through proper foot function.
Good foot action is the mark of an accomplished golfer. “All timing, distance, and direction comes out of the lower body with the feet leading the way,” golf legend Jack Nicklaus has said. Nicklaus or any professional will tell you that problems with the feet, even a painful corn or callus, can impede timing and balance to the point where it’s reflected on the scorecard at the end of the day.
Lower Back Pain and stiffness in the back and neck are usually caused by the twisting motion of the golf swing as the shoulders rotate around the hips. One of the most common causes of lower back pain is over pronation in the feet. Even a slight postural misalignment caused by over pronation can lead to back pain.
Common Golf Foot Injuries
- Heel Spur is an overuse injury that is associated with pain on the bottom of the heel. This can be treated with custom orthotics, stretching exercises, and cortisone injections.
- Neuromas are an inflammation of the nerves between the metatarsal bones. The treatment consists of wider shoe gear, orthotics, injections, or in some cases removal by surgery.
- Metatarsalgia is pain across the ball of the foot. Treatments include orthotics, padding, or medication.
- Corns and Callous are thickening of the skin on the foot. These are often caused by the pressure of a bone that is not properly aligned. Sometimes they are extremely painful. A podiatrist can often shave the corn or callous and pad the area to relieve the pain. If that does not work sometimes surgery is necessary.
- Blisters are a common problem at the end of a round of golf.
- Tendonitis – Inflammation of the tendon that runs along the arch region.
- Orthotics/Insoles allow a golfer’s body to establish a better point of contact with the ground when executing a golf swing. They will also stabilise your feet, evenly redistribute weight and correct your entire body posture during the golf swing. Insoles also prevent and treat a variety of painful injuries that can affect your concentration and ultimately your golfing handicap.
When injured, participation is no substitute for rehabilitation. Injured body parts must be thoroughly treated and rehabilitated to meet the full demands of golf or any other sport. If you are injured, your return should be gradual. As much as you may want to get back to your game, take it slow.