Fitness Friday: Treatment for bone spurs
Here's Ron: Whether you walk or ride when you play, two common golf injuries can easily be avoided if you wear properly fitted golf shoes. How do your current golf shoes stack up? Consider these checkpoints:
-- Is there room in the tip for your toes to wiggle?
-- Do the uppers feel comfortable against the sides of your feet?
-- Do the insoles adequately support your arches?
-- When you walk, do you feel enough cushion against your heel?
-- Do the uppers feel comfortable around the heel?
If you answered "no," to any of these questions, especially the final three, you're putting yourself in jeopardy of developing bone spurs and/or plantar fasciitis.
Bone spurs are a growth of hard material directly on the bone (golfers also commonly get them on their shoulders and hips). This growth is like a callous. It's the body's defense against overuse, stress, friction, etc. Despite the word "spur," these growths are typically smooth, but they still cause pain by rubbing against nearby tendons and ligaments. In the case of the foot, they often irritate the connective tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot known as plantar fascia. The heel is where you'll most often feel the pain. Plantar fasciitis is like tendinitis, only it's the inflammation of the plantar fascia tissue.
As you can imagine, these injuries go hand in hand and the root cause many times are tight-fitting shoes with poor arch support and cushioning.
"You need shoes that allow for more motion in the foot and ankle because that puts less torque on your knee and hip," says Dr. Vernon Cooley of Park City (Utah) Medical Center. Cooley performed knee surgery on Tiger Woods in 2008.
It's important to understand that the new "street" style of golf shoes, or golf shoes that look like sneakers, aren't automatically the correct choice. They can have cushioning or tightness issues just as easily as traditional golf shoes. That's why it's important to test several models and sizes before purchasing. Ideally, you should see a podiatrist for an accurate fitting, but it's not mandatory.
(Illustration by Bonnie Hofkin)