Balance and the connection between your foot and the ground is an important part of your golf swing. This is how you will have the ability to develop power and consistency on the course. The key parts are ankle mobility and having a strong, stable foot in a properly fitting golf shoe.
Since Fred Couples started using comfort golf shoes it seems there has been an explosion in the number of golfers moving from the more traditional ridged shoes. These comfort shoes are great for walking the 8 km course, however, they don’t offer as much stability during the golf swing as traditional rigid shoes. Finding the right balance in comfort and lateral stability are keys for your game’s success.
Having a properly fitted golf shoe is also crucial to enhancing the connection of your foot to the ground. Here are some tips for choosing the right shoe:
- Look at the shape of your foot. This will decide which type of last (the shape of the shoe) in a golf shoe to choose. If you have a larger foot, then a wider/fuller last would be best whilst a narrow foot needs a sleeker last.
- When you tie the shoelaces of the golf shoe, if the lace eyelets touch, then the shoe is too wide for your foot; if the eyelets are more than 5/8-inch apart then the shoe is too narrow.
- Walk around the golf shop and make sure there is no bunching of the leather in the forefoot or that the shoe slips in the heel. A golf shoe that is snug, but not tight, is ideal, especially since most feet will swell during your round.
The foot works incredibly hard during your four hours on the course. Some common injuries we often see as golf physiotherapists include:
- Morton’s neuroma where there is a thickening of the nerve between the toes. This causes a shooting/burning type sensation between the toes.
- Osteoarthritis, which causes stiffness and pain in the joint at the base of your big toe.
- Plantar fasciitis, which causes an achy heel pain.
- Metatarsalgia where there is pain in the ball of your foot and more often found in the golfers trail foot.
- These injuries affect your ability to shift your weight to the back leg during the backswing and to transfer through to the lead foot on the downswing.
Here are three exercises to improve the mobility of your ankle, your standing balance and the co-ordination of the muscles in your foot.
Sit or kneel down with your calf as relaxed as possible. Hold a golf club so that the middle of the shaft is in contact with your calf. Pull the club up and down your calf looking for trigger points (which are sensitive spots in the muscle). Then, gently, using the shaft, massage out the trigger points for 20 seconds. This improves your calf flexibility.
Stand with your hands on your hips. Balance on one leg with your opposite leg bent to 90 degrees. Keeping your big toe on the ground, balance as long as possible without stepping the opposite foot down. Work on completing two 20-second sets per leg.
With your ankle relaxed, lift your big toe off the ground while keeping the rest of the toes on the ground. Set the big toe back down and lift the rest of the toes whilst pushing the big toe firmly to the ground. Alternate back and forth in a smooth coordinated way for 20 seconds; repeat three times. You can progress this exercise from sitting, to standing, to standing on one leg.
|A powerful balancing act
This article was originally published in the June 2015 edition of Golf Canada Magazine. To view the full magazine, click the image to the left.