Now that we have your attention, can comfortable feet and a more stable stance improve your day on the golf course?
Have you ever taken time out of your busy schedule to spend some time on the golf course, just to have your day - and your swing - spoiled by sore, aching feet? Have you opted to use a power cart rather than walking the course because of foot pain? Good News! You and your swing don't need to suffer!
So why do feet get sore from a round of golf? Both the walking and the swing can contribute to foot pain in different ways. If your feet overpronate (arches fall too much) or underpronate (arches are too stiff), the eight kilometers or so of an 18-hole round can cause over-use injuries to various parts of your feet. Overpronating feet are susceptible to injuries to muscles, tendons, and the plantar fascia because these structures are subjected to excess stretch as you walk. Most of these will be felt as pain in the arch or inside of the ankle. Underpronating feet don't absorb impact well and can be unstable. This can cause pressure or shock injury to joints in the feet, ankles and knees, as well as some muscles, tendons and other soft tissues. These injuries can also feel like arch pain, or pain at the outside of the ankle or knee. The mechanics of the swing can cause problems as well. As you transfer weight and pivot on your feet during the swing, very high pressure points develop under the ball of the feet. Some feet can handle these pressure points without complaint, but there are many common foot problems that will not easily tolerate the extra pressure.
If your feet give you trouble, simply walking the course can become too painful to tolerate. For some golfers this means using a power cart when they otherwise wouldn't - a definite problem for those who play as a way of getting regular exercise! Whether or not opt for a cart, playing with pain can spoil an otherwise enjoyable few hours.
Your enjoyment isn't all that suffers when your feet are hurting. Your score can take a beating as well! If your feet hurt, the first thing to suffer is your set-up. Depending on where your feet hurt, you may take up a wider or narrower stance, or carry your weight unevenly, or even set-up off-square to the ball. Then when you move into the swing, the changing quality and intensity of the pain will be a powerful distraction and all your work to improve your swing can go out the window. You may even consciously or unconsciously move your feet or transfer weight differently to avoid the worst of the pain. If your feet aren't moving fluidly through the swing, the head of your club won't be moving as it should either.
So what can you do to reduce foot pain or avoid it altogether? The right footwear and arch supports or golf orthotics can go a long way.
Buying good golf shoes is a good start, but if they are not properly fitted they may cause more problems than they solve. When selecting golf shoes, don't just go by style or reviews. Your golf shoes should bend easily with your feet at the toes and not bend or twist between the ball of the foot and the heel. You should also feel solid reinforcement surrounding the sides and back of the heels. Have a professional help you select and fit the best shoe for your own feet, and don’t forget to replace your spikes if they are too worn down.
Custom-made foot orthotics can be tremendously beneficial for many different foot problems. Standard foot orthotics, if made correctly by a qualified professional, can improve how your feet work for you in a variety of activities. If you overpronate, underpronate, or have painful pressure points, quality custom orthotics can optimize how your feet move and reduce unpleasant pressure points. Orthotics made specifically for golfing take this a step further. They add activity-specific features intended to improve your swing by stabilizing you as you transfer weight from one foot to the other and helping your feet pivot at the right time.
By: Ben Boyer, B.H. (Kin)., C.Ped (C)