For an effective golf swing: Lose the foot pain to fix the swing, podiatrists say

The feet act like a fulcrum that controls the chain of movements that completes a golf swing. Much like dance steps, there’s a lot of weight shifting through the foot to bring the flow of energy and movement into a graceful follow-through. Good footwork is thus central to an effective swing.

“All timing, distance and direction comes out of the lower body with the feet leading the way,” golf legend Jack Nicklaus has said.

However, when the base of support is defective, as in a foot disorder or injury, the golfer tends to do compensating movements, swaying away from the ideal swing. This causes players to hit way off course, and their game suffers.

Foot pain is a common complaint among golfers, and sometimes they are oblivious that their swing is off. Improper biomechanics and overuse often bring about foot pain and injury. Podiatrists cited neuroma (swollen nerve endings), arthritis of the foot and ankle and falling foot arches as major causes of foot pain.

Pain in the big toe, which is often caused by arthritis, makes it difficult to follow through on a swing as it involves shifting of weight to the front and inside of the foot. Neuromas in the ball of the foot cause pain as a downward swing causes the feet to roll inward and outward. And a falling arch causes the foot to be unstable and lose its proper weight distribution, making a firm stance wobbly upon swing motion.

Foot pain from stress and overuse of foot structures are normally treated by podiatrists with conservative care to allow for quick return to the sport. Treatment may include anti-inflammatory injections, shoe inserts or custom shoes, ice and physical therapy.

For symptoms that do not respond or will recur with first-line management, a simple procedure by a podiatrist will often resolve the problem completely.

Podiatrists recommend preventive measures to avoid foot problems associated with playing golf, such as wearing of well-fitted athletic shoes, simple stretching exercises before taking to the first tee and after leaving the last, and building up playing time gradually and carefully.

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