Why does Plantar Fasciitis affect golfers more?

Have you ever noticed that your golfing friends seem to get affected by plantar fasciitis at a higher rate than your other friends? Well, you’re not going crazy and in this blog I’ll explain what plantar fasciitis is, and why it affects golfers more frequently than other population groups. 

What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is inflammation, often due to damage or injury to the plantar fascial tissue in the foot. Quite often it develops slowly, without any specific trauma or injury.

What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?
The most common symptoms are:
– Heel pain, or pain on the underside of the foot
– Severe pain during the first few steps in the morning or after sitting down for an extended period of time
– Pain and tightness when walking, especially on hard surfaces or when barefoot
– Tightness in the foot and calf muscle
– When severe, people can also experience a hot sensation in the area due to the local inflammatory response

Specific risk factors for golfer:

  1. Walking distance
    It’s no secret that golfers walk a lot and to be honest, as a health practitioner, that is one of the things I appreciate most about golf. However, with increased miles walked, comes and increase in the chance of conditions like plantar fasciitis.
    It is important to be consistent with the amount your walking each round. If your home golf course is flat, and you’re going to be moving to a newer, longer or more hilly course, maybe start with only walking 9 holes, and working your way up to walking the full 18 holes. 
  2. Change in shoes
    Each new season, we look on our instagram or Facebook feeds, and there is a beautiful new pair of golf clubs staring back at us. Although new golf shoes can give some great benefits, they also come with an increased risk of injuries like plantar fasciitis. So, be smart when choosing new shoes, and don’t just go for the most pretty ones.
    My personal favourite brand for golf shoes is Ecco. Ecco Golf shoes are well known for their great build quality and comfort. So, if you’re not too sure, but are wanting to get a golf shoe that should give you everything you need, my vote goes to Ecco.
  3. Old shoes
    Almost ironically, as much as changing to a new pair of golf shoes can increase your risk or developing plantar fasciitis, wearing an old pair of golf shoes past their used by date, is also not ideal.
    A good quality pair of golf shoes should last you 2 years if you’re playing 2x/week and walking the course. This depends on your own local course, swing mechanics, and probably about 50 other small factors, but in general 2 years is a good time to replace.
  4. Rotational ground force
    Now, this one is a little more complicated but basically, the rotational force created by the body in the golf swing, gets transferred to the ground via our feet. This rotational movement and powerful push off the ground creates a lot of stress on your plantar fascia tissue. This specific movement is very unique to golf, especially in it’s repetitive nature.
    If you’re currently practicing a new swing change, trying to get more distance and speed, or just hitting a lot of golf balls per week, you’re at high risk.
    Be sure to ask one of our practitioners about the best way to keep your feet moving, well stretched, and irritation free. 
  5. Older ages
    Unfortunately, plantar fasciitis is more prevalent in older populations. With golf being the preferred sport for a lot of older people, it is no surprise that there is a higher prevalence of plantar fasciitis in older golfers. 


What can you do:
Plantar fasciitis can be incredibly painful, so managing the pain and discomfort is the first thing you need to do.
Pain management:
1. Icing – Plantar fasciitis is an inflammatory condition, so ice is preferable to heat when trying to calm the painful site down. Try icing for 20-30minutes at a time, with at least a 1 hour break between icing bouts.
2. Anti-inflammatories – If you’re able to, taking anti-inflammatory medication can help settle the inflammatory response at the tissue quickly and help you get back in control of the pain and injury.
3. Rest from aggravating activities. Now, this is easier than it sounds. You won’t be able to avoid all forms of aggravation, as walking throughout your day-to-day life will probably aggravate the site a little bit, but try to avoid any unnecessary aggravating activities.
4. Taping – Practitioners may use so tape around the foot and ankle, in an attempt to take a little bit of pressure off the plantar fascia. This can be really effective, but don’t attempt this yourself , as it can also make thing worse if done incorrectly.
5. Stretching – See below

Stretching/massage
1. Calf muscle stretch – Embed a video here

2. Plantar stretch – Embed a video here

3. Massage gun massage – Every man and his dog has a massage gun these days. So if you have one lying around the house, have a sit on the couch with your feet up, and massage away. Concentrate on your calf muscles, and the bottom of the foot. I find it best to leave your socks on to help the head of the massager glide across your foot. Not only does this feel great and relieve the pain, but will also help relax the tight muscles in the area.
If you don’t have a massage gun but were looking to get one, I would suggest the Renpho Active Massage Gun, available via this link: https://renpho.au/products/renpho-active-massage-gun

4. Frozen coke bottle. Now, to be honest, I’m not a great fan of this method. It works fine, but is just a bit messy and difficult. But for those who want to try it out, get a frozen bottle of coke
(filled with water) and place it on the ground. Roll your sore foot over the bottle to help massage and ice/numb the area.


Exercises
1. Dexterity exercise. Plantar Fasciitis comes with incredible amounts of foot tightness. So we want to get your feet moving freely again. Here are some little exercises you can do to get your feet and toes active. – Embed video
2. Foot and calf isometric exercises. – Isometrics are a great place to start when loading a painful and injured area. Isometrics occur without movement, so we can control the exposure of the injury to loading/stress more easily. Check out this video for a few examples of isometric exercises that’ll help with your plantar fasciitis.
3. Controlled calf plantar/dorsi flexion – We want to get the foot back to moving normally and strengthening this movement as soon as possible. Once the pain allows, starting controlled plantar/dorsi flexion, with emphasis on the eccentric, or down phase is integral. Check out this video for an example, including an easy progression to make it a little more difficult
4. Plyometrics – Not everyone will need to progress to this more dynamic level of loading, but if you’re wanting to get that spring back in your step, progression to plyometrics is for you. 

Treatment
1. Osteopathy can help with the treatment and management of plantar fasciitis. Osteopathy focuses on looking at how your whole body, mechanics, medical history, and individual factors all contribute to your individual case of plantar fasciitis. Your osteopath will take a detailed history to create a complete plan to help you get out of pain and back on the course.
Osteopaths may use soft tissue massage, dry needling, joint mobilisation, adjustments, and taping to relieve pain and help get the injured plantar fascia tissue healing as quickly as possible.

2. Remedial massage can help with both the pain and tightness that occurs with plantar fasciitis. Anyone who has experienced the symptoms of plantar fasciitis will tell you that a good massage from a trained remedial massage therapist is one of the best things you can do. Our massage

Conclusion

Plantar fasciitis can affect anyone, anywhere, anytime, but if you’re a golfer you are at a slightly higher risk. To avoid the dreaded heel pain affecting you and your ability to play golf, follow a few of the simple steps we outlined in the blog above.
If you think you may be experiencing plantar fasciitis yourself, and want to get in contact with us to go over your specific case, just send us an email at hello@linkshp.com.au or you can book online via our website, linkshp.com.au

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