Golf Foot Health 101: How To Stay Injury Free
When it comes to fitness training for golf, you could think of steps as reps. As in any field of fitness training, correct form when performing repetitive movements is essential to developing strength, preventing injury, and achieving performance longevity. If you were performing a bicep curl, for example, you would want to make sure you positioned your elbows, wrists, and shoulders correctly to ensure optimal results. The same is true with each step that you perform in golf.
It is essential that a foundation is solid. For a golfer, your foundation is your feet! Golfers may walk well over 11,000 steps during a round, and in some tournaments golfers can reach 22,000 steps in a single day.
We understand that staying injury-free can be a challenge, but we are here to give you all the support and knowledge you need.
Here’s a breakdown of what we will cover:
We’ll dive a little into the science behind the mechanics of the foot.
We’ll help explain the nuances between the male and female physique as it relates to golf fitness.
We’ll help you understand a little about the sports footwear industry and what to look out for when choosing a pair of athletic shoes.
We’ll give you five practical steps you can start today, to enhance your game and prevent injury immediately.
A LITTLE SCIENCE . . . SO HANG WITH US
There are 26 bones; 33 joints; 100 tendons, ligaments, and muscles; and over 7,000 nerve endings in just one of your feet. If only one of these gets out of sync, it could have significant implications, affecting your entire skeletal system.
It is crazy to think how much is working in our feet as we move. But if you consider that each of those tiny bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and nerve endings will perform thousands of reps in just one round of golf, you can see that we’d better understand how they work and how to keep them healthy and strong. (Remember that steps are reps, and in one round of golf, the average golfer will take 11,000 of them.)
MALE OR FEMALE?
Have you ever heard of the book Men Are From Mars and Women Are From Venus? When it comes to golf fitness, the same is true. Biological male and female bodies are very different, and those differences must be carefully considered when approaching golf fitness training. Compared to their male counterparts, women have a higher risk of lower-limb injuries. Women have wider hips, causing a larger “Q-angle” – femur and pubic angle in relation to the knee – which creates knee valgus (collapse of the knees). When the foot, ankle, and knee collapse, this can lead to injuries and become very painful. So if you’re a female golfer, watch your step!
WHAT ABOUT FOOTWEAR?
The footwear industry is booming because we’ve been programmed to believe that our pain’s solution lies in a purchase. Most of these shoes have soft, supportive insoles, high platforms, and toe-to-heel inclination. These features, which are very common in athletic shoes, can be detrimental to our foot health, as these shoes, while being comfortable, “do the work” for us.
In contrast to the common belief that some people are born with flat feet and others aren’t, everyone is actually born with relatively flat feet. The development of the medial arch – consisting of the cuneiform, talus, and navicular bones – is the difference between those who do and don’t have an arch. The plantar fascia (“PF”) is a ligament that connects the heel to the front end of the metatarsals (toes). If there’s a minimal arch, the feet will continue losing their structure, and the PF will stretch – think of a bowstring. It will continue stretching until small tears occur in the fascia and it becomes inflamed, leading to plantar fasciitis. But don’t panic; there is a way to solve this.
5 Key Tips
1) Get the right footwear
We recommend lightweight shoes with lower platforms (TRUE Linkswear, for example). Avoid shoes with too much extra cushioning. This will significantly increase your chances of staying injury-free, as you will train your foot correctly instead of having the shoe do all the work for you.
2) Take care of your tendons
Use a lacrosse ball to roll out all those tendons, ligaments, and sensory nerves. The more sensation and awareness you have in your feet, the more feedback your lower extremities will provide. This can take as little as five minutes, so if you can incorporate this into your fitness routine, this alone will significantly improve your golf fitness and the likelihood of staying injury-free.
3) Walk with the outer edge of your feet
When walking, focus on utilizing the outer edge of your feet to build upon the arch. We know this can be difficult. We tend to be very self-conscious when we walk, especially if it feels unnatural. Our recommendation is to try it out at home first, until it feels a little more natural.
4) Get your camera out
Record yourself walking away from and back towards the camera, and pay attention to how your knees respond when you take a step. Are they stable or collapsing? If they are stable, then great! If they’re collapsing, practice walking slower and focus on pointing the kneecap to your 11:00 (left) and 1:00 (right) positions.
5) Stay grounded
Stay more grounded. Walk barefoot on the grass, and create movement in your feet. This promotes strength in the arch, which stabilizes your body and increases ground reaction forces during the golf swing.
WE’RE HERE TO HELP
We know that golf fitness and injury prevention may seem overwhelming, but we promise that if you follow these few simple steps, you will find yourself improving your game at a faster rate, while staying injury-free and healthy.
Are you ready to improve your game?
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