The torque of a golf swing can strain muscles in the legs, abdomen and back. The fact that the game is usually played on hilly terrain increases these forces, and can lead to injury. However, a full round of golf adds up to a four or five-mile workout that can reduce stress and improve cardiovascular health.
Potential problems and when to seek the help of a podiatrist
If a round of golf is painful on the feet, first assess the quality of your shoes. Any time pain is not adequately resolved with good, stable golf shoes and is present for more than two or three consecutive rounds, it’s time to visit a podiatrist. We can diagnose and treat a range of problems and help make your feet an asset, not a liability, to your golf game.
If biomechanical imbalances are present, these existing stresses will overload certain structures, and predispose the golfer to overuse of muscles and strain on ligaments and tendons. Orthoses will equalise the weight load on the lower extremity and in essence rest the overused muscle.
Other problems, such as tendinitis, capsulitis, and ligament sprains and pulls can also keep a golf enthusiast in the clubhouse. Improper shoes can bring on blisters, neuromas (inflamed nerve endings) and other pains in the feet. Podiatrists see these problems daily and can treat them conservatively to allow for a quick return to the sport.
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 slowly.
Insoles – preventing pain & improving your game
For the foot that is not able to function normally due to biomechanical conditions such as excessive pronation(rolling in) or supination(rolling out), a state of optimal biomechanics can be achieved through the use of orthoses, custom shoe inserts that can be prescribed by a podiatrist. Orthoses not only allow the feet to function as they ought to but can alleviate the predisposition to injury brought on by biomechanical imbalances.
If biomechanical problems are present in your swing, they will invariably cause symptoms when walking the course as well. Addressing biomechanical problems in walking may therefore result in the secondary benefit of an improved swing through proper foot function.
Once driven by fashion, golf shoes were wing-tip oxfords with spikes. Today, shoes are constructed using basic principles of athletic footwear. Some even incorporate advanced technological innovations such as graphite shank reinforcements, which keep them light and add strength.
Don’t wear anything on your feet that wouldn’t be comfortable if you were taking a good long walk. Make sure shoes fit well in the store before purchasing them. It’s best to shop for them in the afternoon when the feet are slightly swollen. Try on shoes with the same socks you’ll wear on the course. Tie both left and right shoes tightly and walk around your store or pro shop for a few minutes before deciding on a make and model.
Maintaining healthy feet for golf
Proper warm-up and stretching exercises specific to golf can help in injury prevention. A sports podiatrist can recommend a suitable warm-up regime.
Five top tips when playing golf
- Start easy and build up your playing time carefully.
- Don’t forget to stretch regularly, especially before taking to the first tee.
- Fit your shoes with the socks that you plan to wear.
- Stretch to alleviate stiffness after a day of golf.
- Lift with your legs. This applies to lifting golf bags in particular – bending at the waist to pick up your bag will strain your back.