Golf injuries to the foot such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis are becoming more and more prevalent in golfers. These stress injuries are often caused by overuse. Especially over the past two years, as people play more often or take up the game without experience of walking so much.
While many people will analyse the physical problems that are giving you foot pain they often overlook the most obvious. Your choice of shoes.
So is your choice of golf shoe contributing to your foot pain? I asked Paul McMullan, a podiatrist specialising in sporting injuries in the lower limbs, to give us the low down.
Is golf shoe type that important?
“A lot of the misconception is the softer the shoe, the more comfortable the shoe is. Yes, it may feel that way at first, but actually, in the long run, it isn’t going to provide the most comfort.
Because the shoe is so soft, it’s more flexible, meaning the foot moves around an awful lot more leading to mechanical overload.” Paul explains.
“There is a big link between how soft, and how casual a shoe is, and the injury risk because more stress is being put through the foot.”
“In general, if someone sits behind a desk all the time, and doesn’t do too much walking then the footwear choice becomes less important. But because golfers are covering a lot of steps during the round the golf. We need to be much more conscious about our footwear choices.”
“Golfers don’t realise that they average around 15,000 steps during a round of golf, and choosing flexible, ultra-comfortable golf shoes that allow the foot to turn during the swing is likely to create some serious foot issues. The softer ground on the fairways and greens only compounds the problem. Some chronic injuries between the heel and toes sustained while playing golf may result in long-term pain from morning till night, or even require surgery.”
What to look for in shoes to avoid golf injuries?
“One of the first things that we do when we assess someone is we get them to bring in all their footwear. And from my experience, if you take hold of the heel and toes of a golf shoe and can twist it, then those shoes are far too flexible to play golf in.
“Slightly heavier golf shoes that are ergonomically designed to support the foot during the golf swing will prevent these kinds of injuries occurring. Having looked at the current golf shoe offering on the market, I would recommend Duca Del Cosma shoes like the Churchill men’s style and the Siren women’s model that are clearly better designed for golf and avoiding longer-term foot injuries,”
“Also having more different types of golf shoes rather than wearing the same golf shoe all the time. Having a bit of variety helps with the mechanical load going through your feet. Wearing the same shoes all the time, can be a cause of injury as well.”
What to avoid in golf shoes?
“Narrow golf shoes. Having the correct width is vital. Some of these shoes are very restrictive around the forefoot, and some golfers have wider feet than others. Having that width in the forefoot mainly can make a huge difference.”
“The material is important too, some uppers are more comfortable and put less stress through the top of the foot.
“A really soft, casual shoe. Unfortunately, there’s a big correlation between how soft and how casual a shoe is and the injury risk. Players think it is great because it is soft but it is actually causing mechanical overload. So mainly it is looking for that rigidity. “
What can you do if you have symptoms of plantar fasciitis or other common golf injuries?
“One of the very simple exercises we would give players is just to stand on the edge of the stair. So the ball of the foot is on the stair and the heel is dropping off the edge of it. Drop the heel slowly over the edge, pause for a second, and then explode upwards as high as possible. This is just to develop strength because a lot of injuries are due to a muscle becoming weakened over time.”
So if you want to avoid golf injuries, make sure you have supportive shoes that can deal with the pressure of your swing mechanics and all the steps you do on the golf course.
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