As a podiatrist, I have worked with athletes of all levels and sports. The one device that has benefited my patients the most are custom made orthotics. Orthotics are devices that are placed in your shoes and are able to change the physical characteristics of not just your feet, but of your entire body.
These inserts can be placed in the golfer's shoes in order to vary their posture or playing style. Orthotics can be purchased over the counter but it is best to receive custom golf orthotics. Custom orthotics are specifically prescribed and tailored to your needs. A qualified podiatrist can evaluate you with a thorough physical examination and analysis of your gait, stance and golf swing. This should also take into account your foot type and any complaints such as location of foot, ankle, knee, hip or back pain.
I tend to compare custom or prescription orthotics to eyeglasses. Before using prescription eyeglasses, your doctor performs an exam. Based on the results of the exam, your doctor will tell you if you need prescription eyeglasses and gives you a specific prescription for your needs. The same is true for prescription orthotics. Your doctor will prescribe you an orthotic based on your examination and needs. If your doctor finds that you do not need a custom orthotic, they may recommend treatments such as exercises or physical therapy instead. Orthotics should be prescribed on an individualized basis. If you wear orthotics in your golf shoes you may not need them for other sports or daily life.
Three studies were performed and published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics from 1997-2001. They examined the effects of custom golf orthotics on player's swings, balance, gait and fatigue over a six week period. The golfers wore the devices every day for one and a half months, and then the statistics were taken.
The studies revealed that use of the custom orthotics increased the speed at which the golfers swung their clubs. The increased velocity allowed the players to hit the ball further away than they could without the orthotics. The study also showed an apparent decrease in fatigue and body pains among the golfers. Also, although individual differences were anticipated, data trends suggest that nine holes of simulated golf promotes change in standing balance and proprioception and that six weeks of wearing custom-made, flexible orthotics has a positive influence in promoting balance and proprioceptive symmetry. However, the researchers who did the study cautioned that the study was only done on a specific group of golfers and that results would probably vary if the study was done on a wider segment of the population.
The use of orthotics in golf can improve your game by decreasing fatigue, preventing pain and increasing the speed and quality of your swing. The effects of the devices may not take players from amateur status to a high paid professional overnight, but they will provide golfers with an edge over their opponents. Any extra edge can help you win your next game!
Cheers to Your Health