The arrival of spring, warm weather, and green grass signify the start of the golf season in Pennsylvania! Although golf is a lower-impact sport, golfers are still vulnerable to foot and ankle injuries from repeated movements throughout a game. Golfing injuries hinder gameplay and can develop into long-term lower limb issues if ignored. Read on to learn about a few injuries that golfers may see on the green.
Plantar fasciitis can occur when the plantar fascia (thick tissue on the bottom of the foot) becomes inflamed and weakened over time when repeatedly put under stress. In golfers, plantar fasciitis is commonly due to over-extension (excessively twisting the feet inwardly) and is more common in inexperienced golfers who have not learned the proper stance and swing technique. The pain is usually located near the center of the heel and feels particularly intense in the morning when the muscle is suddenly stretched after shortening overnight. Wearing insoles in your golf shoes will help to stabilize the feet and avoid overpronation, ensuring the weight is distributed evenly during the golf swing. In addition, icing the area and taking anti-inflammatory medication will ease the pain and swelling.
Hallux rigidus is a disorder involving pain and moderate to severe stiffness in the joint at the base of the big toe. The condition typically worsens over time for golfers and can develop due to overuse of the joint or as the result of an injury, like stubbing your toe during the game. As a result, the ability to walk and play golf will also be limited. For treatment, anti-inflammatory medicines, ice or heat packs, or injections into the joint can provide relief. In addition, wearing shoes with a curved sole or shoe inserts limits the motion in the big toe joint, providing additional alleviation.
This common condition occurs from overuse and increased pressure on the bones in the ball of the foot, causing inflammation in the tendons near the sesamoid bone. Sesamoiditis is often associated with a dull, aching pain that comes and goes under the big toe joint. Effective treatment options to ease the pain include:
- Resting from activities, including golf
- Icing the injury
- Wearing comfortable shoes that cushion your big toe
- Anti-inflammatory medications
Another foot problem common in 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 pinched nerve. To prevent this issue, avoid shoes with a spike located directly beneath 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.
The Achilles tendon is the strongest tendon and takes on excessive pressure during golf. The pain and inflammation from Achilles tendonitis usually occur at the back of the heel and foot, which increases when walking. Golfers who suffer from this condition may find walking the course very difficult. To avoid developing Achilles tendonitis, warm up and stretch well before playing the game and wear well-fitted footwear.
Experiencing pain during golf can sometimes be debilitating and will likely negatively affect your game. Treating lower limb pain as soon as possible is essential to help avoid a lengthy recovery period that may keep you out of the game. Our expert podiatrists can examine your lower extremities and suggest preventative measures and treatment options to provide comfort and get you back on the course. Contact us to schedule an appointment today!