Like a house, your golf swing has to be built on sound foundations and that starts with your feet. According to Jack Nicklaus, "All timing, distance and direction come out of the lower body with the feet leading the way".
Key to how the feet operate in the golf swing is the selection of golf shoes. Many golfers choose shoes based on price or looks without considering performance, despite the importance of proper movement and grip to the swing, not to mention the 5 mile walk each time you play.
However, our investigations have taken golf shoe fitting to the next level. The bones in your feet become fixed in your late teenage years and only 1% of people have a foot that settles with the arch in the correct position.
If you have any of the following conditions then this could be because your feet are not operating as well as that could:
• My shoes always wear out on one side faster than the other
• I frequently sprain my ankle
• I have flattened arches or high arches
• I walk on the outside or inside of my feet
• I experience aches or pains in my feet, legs or back when walking or standing
Lateral motion and pivoting are intrinsic to the golf swing, and can be impeded by certain foot-related conditions like those above and the your game will suffer.
If this is applies to you, then are you doomed to be stuck with the foot lottery that nature has dealt you or can something be done about it?
Golfalot went to see PodoFit who are experts in golf biomechanics, and are based in St Andrews, Scotland.
Podiatrist, Sara Boardman has over 20 years’ experience and was the podiatrist to the 2005 and 2010 Open Golf Championship. Biomechanics play a crucial part in developing the golf swing. As Sara explains,
"Where players have biomechanical imbalances, these can be mitigated by prescription insoles which realign the feet, and therefore correct the player’s posture. At Insole PRO our podiatrists are experienced in biomechanics and are involved in ongoing product development of orthotic insoles for golfers. Orthotics can be used to improve general comfort by expert fitting of bespoke insoles into golf shoes. They are known to solve a number of biomechanical problems, not only for obvious foot conditions but also for ankle, knee, pelvis, hip and back pain.
Some manufacturers, such as FootJoy, produce shoes with removable and interchangeable insoles to help achieve a proper fit. This type of shoe is ideal for those players with prescription orthotics or bespoke comfort insoles.
Having faced numerous years of back pain and sore feet from golf I was ready to try anything. Following a comprehensive analysis of my feet and how they moved when I walked, Sara had a clear view of my (numerous) podiatric problems.
We then discussed the types and styles of shoes that would suit not only my golf but also my day to day wear and then it was down to creating the insole.
PodoFit has an orthotics laboratory which has a state-of-the-art CAD/CAM prescription orthosis fabrication system, the first of its type in Scotland. The technology is used by the podiatry team to design and manufacture custom comfort insoles and prescription orthoses for sportspeople, podiatrists and other specialists throughout the UK. With this system, the feet are scanned on a digitiser, which provides a 3-dimensional topographic scan of the soles of the feet.
This process involved standing on the foot scanner and took no more than a couple of minutes for each foot. Once a podiatrist has undertaken a biomechanical assessment and gait analysis of the player, sophisticated software allows prescriptive adjustments to be made to the scan to counter any biomechanical imbalances, prior to milling. The results were then sent to the computer which then milled the insoles within the hour.
Having tried several other types of insert I was pleased to see that these came with a neoprene cover that is thin but extremely shock absorbent. The fit in the shoe was excellent but the real proof came on the golf course. Not only are they extremely comfortable but the fact my foot was moving correctly and was well supported meant that the normal back and leg aches I had after golf were almost gone.
With my feet operating more normally, there was no stress on my toes or calves and therefore my back and hips were not stressed anywhere near as much as before. Not only did this lead to a much more pleasant round but I felt my game improved as I had a better foundation and I was not as tired towards the end of the round which helped my concentration.
Now, I could not live without them and they are one of the key parts of my life and my golf equipment. Quality is not cheap though and a pair may set you back around £175, however the enormous benefits will return this investment immediately. For me it has transformed my golf and my day to day life immeasurably. After all you would not build a house on faulty foundations would you?
For more information and to get your own analysis go to PodoFit website and check out our Golf Shoe Buying Guide.