Dr. Shane Campbell (Osteopath)
Is this really the right question? Or is the right question “What is the perfect golf shoe for you?”
There are many factors that contribute to what the right golf shoe is for different people and this is vastly underestimated among amateurs and professionals alike.
There are some very important questions that you need to ask yourself when assessing what sort of golf shoe you should buy.
Are you a cart golfer or a walking golfer?
This is a very important factor when assessing what golf shoe to buy. How much you walk during your golf round is an important factor when choosing a shoe. If you walk a lot during your round it is important for your golf shoe to allow for proper gait biomechanics. With it needing adequate mid foot support and also allowing good range of motion through the tarso-metatarsal region.
The range of motion through the tarso-metatarsal region is particularly important, with it being undervalued in many golf shoes. This motion allows for a proper windlass mechanism to occur, which in turn can assist in the loading of the musculoskeletal system up the Kinetic chain from the ground up.
Poor choices in golf shoes in this department particularly in regular golfers such as tour professionals can lead to problems with the foot and ankle, most commonly Plantar fasciitis.
How is your subtalar range of motion?
The subtalar joint is an articulation between the Talus and the calcaneus. The primary motions of the subtalar joint are inversion/eversion and abduction/adduction which allow for rotation through the foot and ankle.
How does subtalar joint range of motion impact on your golf swing?
Subtalar range of motion is very important to the golf swing. A good subtalar range of motion allows you to keep your heel on the ground while going through your swing. A good range of motion through the subtalar joint will allow you to load your body more efficiently during the golfswing. On top of this, it will allow you to keep your weight and balance through the inside of your foot, which in turn keeps your centre of mass more central and stops excessive lateral movement during your golf swing (both swaying and sliding).
How can I test my subtalar range of motion?
The first step is to test your range of motion passively. This can be done by cupping the heel, while fixing the ankle and testing the subtalar joint through inversion/eversion and abduction/adduction. This passive test will give you some basic information about the range available at the subtalar joint.
Weight bearing barefoot
Standing barefoot on one leg. Touch the ground at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock with your other leg as if you were in the middle of a clock. Stand back and observe the range of motion of the person, whether they roll to the outside of the heel or if the subtalar joint has the range of motion to hold the inside of the heel down and also the quality of the movement.
Barefoot golf swing
This is ideally done on a force platform to gain slightly more information about the weight distribution across the foot and also the centre of mass during the swing. But just observing the golf swing and analysing how much movement is achieved at the subtalar joint will give great information.
Comfort is also a major factor
The comfort of the golfer is also very important when choosing is golf shoe. Just because the shoe is biomechanically sound doesn’t mean it is the right shoe for that person. They need to where said shoe for periods of 4-6 hours while on the golf course, so it is very important the golfer likes the feel of the shoe.
Once the amount of movement at the subtalar joint has been assessed, this can be used to choose which shoe best suits that golfer.
If the golfer has a reasonable amount of range through their subtalar joint and ankle, they can wear a shoe which is more flexible which will allow that person to use all of the range that they have and allow them to properly use they body during the golf swing.
If the golfer has a very rigid subtalar joint and ankle, it is recommended that they wear a more supportive shoe as this will help to keep the foot grounded and avoid too much lateral movement during the golf swing.
Take home points:
- If you walk during your round of golf be sure to have a shoe which is designed for walking and can allow good foot mechanics while walking.
- If you have a mobile subtalar joint, don’t be afraid to wear a shoe that is flexible and allows movement, as long as your ankle can handle said movement.
- If you have a rigid subtalar joint, be very carefully not to wear a shoe that is too flexible as this will cause excessive movement.
Happy shoe shopping!