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Golf Injuries: Putting Away Foot and Ankle Pain

Golf is a popular world-wide sport that doesn’t require you to play like you’re in the Masters to love the game. It’s also an activity you can enjoy well into your senior years, unlike football, soccer, or other high-impact sports. The calm game is relatively safe, but that doesn’t mean painful problems never occur. Any enthusiast knows how golf injuries can ruin an afternoon on the green.

Your Feet on the Green

You may not think about how much your feet move and adjust when you’re swinging away—at least, not until they ache. Anyone with any experience knows the lower limbs have to adjust as you pull back, strike the ball, and follow through. Your weight shifts rapidly from your back foot to your front one, which twists in as you finish. The rapid, repeated pressure changes, hours spent standing, frequent motion, and strain on the toes can create significant pain in your lower limbs.

The hours it takes to play 18 holes strains your feet over time and can give rise to overuse problems. Some of the most common golf injuries include heel pain, metatarsalgia, Morton’s neuroma, tendonitis, sprained ankles, and black toenails. Heel pain usually results from many hours standing around on the field. Issues like metatarsalgia and Morton’s neuroma develop from the excessive pressure put on the balls of the feet as you swing through. It’s actually most likely you’ll develop these issues in your front foot. The repeated pressure from your weight shifting forward and your foot twisting inward as you follow through pinches the nerves between your metatarsal bones.

Tendonitis usually results from the inward twist in both feet. This can also cause a sprained ankle, especially if the connective tissues supporting your joint are already weakened by overuse. Black toenails typically appear in the back foot, which comes forward onto the big toe as you finish your swing. The regular strain to the end of the digit can cause bleeding under the nail, which creates that dark discoloration.

Making Your Feet Drive-Ready

To properly treat any golf injuries, you need to have your pain accurately diagnosed. Dr. Craig H. Thomajan DPM, FACFAS and Dr. Shine John, DPM, FACFAS will need to perform a thorough examination to identify the structures affected in your foot and the specific nature of your condition. Our team of specialists may also take special diagnostic images like X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs to help identify the problem and rule out other issues. With a diagnosis, we can help you begin treatment to restore your feet and get you back on the green pain-free.

Any inflammation will need to be eliminated. Ice and compression on the irritated area should help. You might need to take a short break from your golf game and stretch out any tightened tissues to avoid re-aggravating your condition and allow your feet to heal. Poorly-fitted or worn out shoes can increase the strain on the feet. You will probably need to adjust your golf shoes and add padding or orthotics. Extra cushioning can help you absorb the pressure you put on your lower limbs, while orthotics control any abnormal motion that might lead to overuse problems. Physical therapy exercises and stretches help you increase your natural strength and range of motion, so you’re less likely to injure yourself.

If you’re experiencing pain on the green, know you’re not alone—but also that you don’t have to live with it. A little intentional care can help you eliminate common golf injuries and enjoy your game without discomfort.  Don’t wait until you’re limping from hole to hole to seek help. Contact Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists here in Austin for an appointment or more information about lower limb pain. You can fill out our online contact form or call (512) 328-8900 to reach our office.