As springtime begins, so does the start of golf season in Mid-Atlantic states. However, as players return to the course, they must be aware of potentially serious foot problems resulting from long-term golfing. Although golf does not involve running and jumping, the repetitive swinging motions over time can cause physical issues that can cut a golfer's career short if left untreated. Make the most of your gameplay this season by watching out for these two common golf-related issues.
The physical act of repeatedly swinging a golf club in practice and on the links can lead to a condition known as hallux limitus or stiffness and inflammation of the big toe joint. The inflexibility of the joint is caused by movement and weight transfer during the swing’s follow-through. Golfers can overextend the big toe joint in their back foot during this motion by twisting their body and pointing the toe. Players who have golfed for several years can eventually wear out the cartilage in the big toe joint. If left untreated, one may experience painful arthritis in the big toe, making it very difficult to continue playing golf.
Golfers who experience pain, swelling, or reduced mobility around the big toe joint should visit a foot and ankle specialist for an examination and diagnosis. Individuals with a long big toe and those with a history of repeated trauma to the big toe area are more susceptible to hallux limitus. Players who experience any hallux pain should consider it a warning sign schedule an appointment with your podiatrist before the joint becomes arthritic.
Prescription orthotics can provide relief in most situations, but those with advanced cases may require surgery. Surgery can vary from joint fusion to joint replacement, depending on the specific injury.
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, golfers should not wear shoes that have 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. Any pair of golf shoes can be made more foot-friendly without sacrificing traction by removing the poorly located spikes. Additionally, making sure your golf shoe is the appropriate width for your foot will limit pressure on the forefoot nerves.
To enjoy golf for many years to come, treat any lower limb pain as soon as you experience it. If examined early, many golfers can treat the problem without surgery and avoid lengthy recovery periods keeping them off the links.
At Martin Foot & Ankle, our expert podiatrists can examine your lower extremities and suggest preventative measures to provide comfort and protection so you can enjoy your time on the green! Contact us to schedule an appointment today.