If you are one of the millions of golfers who spent the summer filling your scorecard with pars and bogeys, you should be aware of potentially serious foot problems that can result from years of playing the game.
Although golf is not considered a repetitive sport, the physical act of repeatedly swinging a golf club in practice and on the links can lead to a condition known as hallux limitus, a jamming and deterioration of the big toe joint.
In brief, the movement and weight transfer that occur during the swings follow through can cause this problem and other chronic foot ailments.
When a golfer follows through on his or her swing, that person can overextend the big toe joint on the back foot. Those who have played the game avidly for several years eventually can wear out the cartilage or jam the big toe joint. The likely outcome, if left untreated, is painful arthritis in the big toe.
Golfers who have pain and swelling around the big toe joint or have less mobility in other parts of the foot should visit a podiatrist for an examination and appropriate treatment. A history of trauma to the big toe area and bone structure can also precipitate the condition. Individuals with a long first metatarsal bone, for example, are more susceptible to joint compression and hallux limitus.
If you experience pain in the big toe area when playing, you should consider it a warning sign that intervention is necessary before the joint becomes arthritic. In most situations, orthotics can be prescribed to provide relief, but advanced cases may require surgery.
Another common foot problem for golfers is a neuroma or pinched nerve at the bottom of the foot. The weight transfer to the front foot that occurs in the follow through applies pressure that, over time, can cause a nerve to become pinched.
Finally, it’s best not to wear shoes that have a spike located directly under the ball of the foot. The pressure from that single spike, magnified by the several thousand steps taken during an average round, can cause intense pain and swelling in the ball of the foot.
Any pair of golf shoes can be made more foot friendly by sacrificing traction and removing the poorly located spikes. There are also several golf shoes to choose from that offer added arch support, which can help relieve the pain caused by hallux limitus.
If you experience any pain during or after playing a round of golf, give us a call at (612) 788-8778 or request an appointment online.
Dr. Bryan Mohr is the owner of Midwest Podiatry Centers and In-House Senior Services.