LAKE OCONEE — “Low foot, high foot, front feet, back feet…left foot, right foot, feet, feet, feet.”
Most of us with children will recognize this line from The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss. As I was reading this book to my two year old the other night, I began to think about how important our feet really are. Not only are they vital for every day life, but they also play a huge role in an effective golf swing.
Our feet are critical to our overall balance, and balance is a fundamental component of any golf swing. Because our feet are the only point of contact with the ground, they are the main stabilizer that allows us to rotate around and swing a golf club at over 90 mph without falling over. Feet are much like the foundation of a house. If the foundation is not completely level, then it will not matter how well built the house is from that point up, it will still have a tendency to lean, tilt and even collapse. The same is true with the golfer. You can have a perfect golf swing and biomechanics from the ankle up, but if the feet are not stable then over time other areas of the golf swing, such as hip rotation and spine rotation, will begin to wear down and, at some point, might even collapse.
Feet also play a key role in rotation during the golf swing. Rotational movement is the key for golf swing efficiency. During the golf swing, our ankles, hips, spine and shoulders all rotate to cause the correct movement. The ankle joint is often overlooked as a rotational joint in the body, however its full rotation is often limited due to structural changes in the foot. One of the more common structural changes that are found in the foot is what is typically referred to as “falling arches.” A fallen arch (pronated) usually occurs over time due to the natural arch shape of the foot dropping. As a result the tendons and ligaments of the foot are weakened, which causes an unstable foot. Instability makes a firm stance difficult and can cause a sway or a slide in the golf swing instead of a pure rotational movement. A sway or a slide swing fault cannot only cause back pain, but can also cause a decrease in club head speed, resulting in shorter distance.
There are many other problems and dysfunctions that can happen in the foot. Some of them are easy to fix, such as finding a properly fitting golf shoe that is snug in the heel but gives your toes some breathing room. Other foot issues, however, might require professional help, such as having your joints properly aligned or getting fit for custom orthotics or arch supports to help correct the structural changes that have already happened in the foot.
The main point to remember is to not ignore your feet if they are causing discomfort or pain. Not only are your feet important for your overall health, but they might be the one thing that can help take your golf game to the next level.