If you have seen a round of televised golf or perused your local golf shop lately, then you have probably witnessed how many different options for golf shoes there are now (like Keegan's Air Jordan's here). Why so many choices? Well, golf's popularity is skyrocketing and money is a huge driver for all the major sports wear companies to get into golf shoes, but more importantly the golf community is trying to reconnect us with the ground.
What do I mean by that? Well, we know that golf is a game that consists of taking ground reaction forces and transferring those into rotational forces that ultimately produce a solid swing and ball strike. As golf grows in popularity and more 300+ drivers and super-human iron players hit the tour, the need to find an edge wherever possible is on the minds of players, coaches and sports companies alike.
Dumping more technology into shoes does have some benefits as far as comfort and force transfer are concerned, but what if...dare I say it...the shoes don't matter at all? I know it's crazy, but what if you could improve your game by making the things attached to your legs (called feet) more functional rather than buying a beastly pair of $300 shoes and shoving your currently dysfunctional hairy Hobbit tootsies into them? Just how important are foot mechanics for a golfer, or any athlete for that matter?
Well let's start with the fact that each foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments, not to mention the 7000+ free nerve endings! Now all of these components are controlled by the central and peripheral nervous system, as well as some other balance coordination centers. You might say the foot plays a 'small' role in your athletic ventures. What happens when we roll an ankle repeatedly, one or two of those 33 joints doesn't move quite right, maybe we lack the motor control to orchestrate foot movement properly or maybe we have just been stuck in rigid shoes for 40 years of our life? Sound like a plausible scenario for they typical golfer, how about just the typical human? All of these maladies cause dysfunctional movement patterns and compensations that begin from the ground up, and these can have a tremendous affect on your golf swing, as well as everyday life.
The foot is immensely complex and its biomechanics are still not fully understood, even with all of the current research that is dealing with gait and foot biomechanics. One thing that is certain, when the foot lacks mobility, stability or intrinsic control, then the rest of the body is at a deficit when it comes to optimum athletic performance.
So how do we find out what our foot functionality situation is? Get assessed, plain and simple. This is not meant to a be a completely shameless ploy to get patients in my office, but seriously getting a trained pair of eyes and HANDS to assess movement is crucial. It doesn't really matter if it is FMS, TPI, SFMA, etc...the whole point is to find out where your biomechanical kinks lie and then wipe them off the radar. I have personally taken FMS, SFMA and I am currently TPI certified, and it is my passion to constantly learn everything I possibly can about human movement. So if you are out there hacking at range balls every week, please take one range hour and exchange it for a proper analysis and rehab plan. It will be worth it.
If something as small as fixing faulty foot mechanics can improve your golf game, imagine what tackling an entire body of dysfunction could do for your game or for that matter, your life.
Until next time...
"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who'll decide where to go."
- Dr. Seuss
Dr. Beau Beard, DC, MS, CCSP, TPI