Golf and Podiatry *A right handed golfer is used for descriptive purposes throughout
Common golf injuries include the lower back and the upper limb (shoulder, elbow and wrist). Foot complaints include blistering, Morton’s Neuroma, damage to ankle ligaments and achilles tendonitis. About 80% of golf injuries are overuse, with direct impact trauma being rare. There is a reported increase in injury risk for individuals who play four rounds or more, or hit 200 range balls or more per week. It has also been suggested that carrying a golf bag increases the chances of back, shoulder and ankle problems.
Lower Limb Considerations
The golf swing is a challenging biomechanical sporting motion to execute. A portion of the swing power is derived from the lower body,and greater club head velocity (the speed of the club face at time of impact with the ball and the consequent distance the ball will then travel) can be achieved with optimum weight transfer from the back (right) to the front (left) foot during the downswing. It follows that the shoe/ground interface is a vital link that allows a golfer to perform specialised movements during swing.
To maximise club head velocity at impact, significant ground reaction force must be produced. This is how hard the ground pushes up on the foot, which in accordance with Newton's 3rd Law is the same amount of force as the foot pushes down into the ground with. It has been reported that low handicap/professional golfers have significantly higher ground reaction forces and a faster weight transfer to the front foot than high handicap/amateur golfers.
Due to the centrifugal force of the club, the magnitude of these forces is often greater than the golfer’s body weight. The magnitude of ground reaction force during a golf swing has been said to be comparable to running at a velocity of 4m/sec. Torque is the tendency of a force to rotate an object. Maximal torque is doubled at the front foot (left) when compared to the back (right) foot. Low handicap golfers seem to generate increased torque when using the driver.
Golf and Foot Orthoses
Functional foot orthoses have been found to increase the club head velocity by up to 7%. In real terms this is equivalent to the golf ball travelling a further 15 yards per shot. Orthoses may also reduce the effects of fatigue associated with golf; and as such may improve consistency of performance.
Dr VIcki Cameron PhD BSc(Hons) MChS