Golf if a game of patience and strategy. But many things can affect that swing - even your feet. If your feet are in pain, then this is not something that will just go away. If you choose to walk the course instead of riding the golf course, your feet need to be in good shape! If your feet hurt when you are golfing, it takes away from your concentration - and enjoyment - of the game. You don't want to keep thinking of your feet when you golf, you want to be enjoying the fresh air, the company, and the finesse of making it under par. What types of foot issues might a golfer encounter?
If you have foot pain in the ball of your foot, a very common ailment is a neuroma. What is a neuroma? A neuroma is the inflammation of part of the nerve as it courses between the long bones of the foot, or metatarsals, where it splits and travels to each to. The most common site of this pain is the third inner space, between the 3rd and 4th toes.
The pain feel like a "zinger" or a sharp electrifying feeling to the 3rd and 4th digits. Sometimes this condition is aggravated by the shape of your golf shoes. If you find that your golf shoes have a tight toe box or a toe box that is a little more pointed at the toes, then this may squeeze the toes together and put pressure on that nerve. How do you alleviate this pain? Most conservatively, padding at the ball of the foot (just behind the metatarsal heads) may make a difference. By placing padding behind the area that was affected, it allows the ends of the long metatarsals, the metatarsal heads, to lift up and spread apart by mere millimeters. And sometimes that's all it takes; just a little space is needed for the tiny nerve to prevent the bones from rubbing up against it and causing pain. The padding is part of a custom orthotic, or an insert, that fits into your shoe. Custom orthotics are made by first taking a mold of the foot, which is total contact, and takes the exact impression of the shape of the foot.
The mold is sent to the lab, where the insert is fashioned and then is shipped back to our office and then dispensed to the patient. Your doctor may also prescribe an NSAID, or non steroidal anti inflammatory drug, that may help with decrease the inflammation. Not all patients are able to take NSAIDs, as there are many side effects such as GI (including stomach) issues, side effects such as sodium retention and increase in blood pressure, and swelling in the ankles. NSAIDs also have an effect on kidneys and some patients with kidney issues or diabetic patients must beware of the dosage. Even over the counter NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen or naproxen) have these side effects. Other treatments may require other treatment plans, such as the MLS laser. The laser is non-invasive and pain free. It has little known side effects. How does it work? It turns photo energy into biomechanical energy in the tissue by decreasing edema, such as the pinpoint area where the neuroma is located. It also increases blood flow to the area which brings your own body's healing factors to the area that is affected to allow your body to use its own cells to heal faster. However the neuroma pain is treated, it should be addressed in order for your golf game to be un-interrupted!
When you swing that golf club, your stance starts evenly distributed weight and then as you swing, your weight transfers and the foot bends at the toe. Those with pain in the big toe joint will feel pain at this point, which is NOT the time you want to feel pain. This could ruin your swing. Pain in the big toe joint can be due to arthritis in the big toe joint, due to a condition called hallux rigidus. The shape of the base of the big toe, or hallux, bones and the shape of the head (end) of the long bone, or the metatarsals, can also have an effect on the joint. As the 2 bones rub up against each other in the joint, this wear and tear causes small osteophytes to form.
This causes decrease in space of the joint, and then decrease in range of motion. Therefore when the big toe bends, this causes pain. How to relieve this? Since it is a biomechanical issue, then it needs a biomechanical solution. Custom orthotics will help fix the biomechanical abnormality. However if the osteophytes become too large and the space is too limited, then surgery may be necessary. But a consultation with your podiatrist can determine the best treatment plan, from conservative to surgical options.
When walking those greens, sometimes golf shoes may not have enough arch support. With the lack of arch support in the golf shoes, you may aggravate heel pain. Heel pain on the bottom of the foot can be caused by a condition called plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the band of tissue that goes from the heel bone, across the arch and inserts in the ball of the foot. When there is no arch support, the band of tissue stretches out and pulls on the heel bone with every step.
This causes inflammation and pain in the bottom of the foot. With an arch support, there is a decrease of stretching and therefore decrease in inflammation and decrease in pain. Something as simple as an arch support can take the pain away from your foot and allow you to walk the course. This allows you to concentrate on your game.
When covering all that ground on foot instead of riding the golf cart, make sure you take care of any blisters you may get on your feet. It is important to make sure your shoes fit properly, and also wear socks that allow enough cushion for your feet but also allow the to "breathe." If there is too much sweat and moisture, this could cause the skin to chafe and blister.
So be sure to inspect your golf shoes and make sure you have proper socks to prevent any blistering from occurring. Because anything that can allow your feet to be comfortable and pain free will be one less thing to worry about, and you can concentrate on that golf swing! If you have any questions regarding your feet and how they function in your golf game, or how they function in any sport for that matter, make an appointment with one of our doctors. You will get a full exam and radiographs (Xrays) if needed. Our office has digital Xray, so your results will be up on the screen within minutes and discussed with you. Remember, pain is not normal! Especially if it is affecting your golf game.