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The health literature has recognized the relationships between one body region and the functional performance of another. Simply put one body part (i.e., feet) has a compensatory effect on other body regions (i.e., upper body, golf swing). This rational translates into the premise that the body functions as a whole as opposed to functioning regionally. In this case I am comparing one regional body part (your feet) and the use of foot orthotics in affecting the body as a whole, in an effort to enhance golf performance.
An often overlooked aspect in sport enhancement is proprioception. Proprioception is the body’s ability to send positional information to the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) and relay these signals to the appropriate body parts in all movements. The reasoning is that appropriate footwear may enhance these feedback mechanisms and to assist to increase positional awareness and therefore directly affect performance.
In addition there is evidence supporting that shoe selection has an affect on balance and performance. Proper footwear may reduce the chances of overuse injuries that decrease overall performance due to fatigue and impact forces as a result of the heel strike, therefore foot orthotics may potentially augment sports performance. For a golfer the foundation, which their foot rests, is the outer, inner and mid-sole and heels. This suggests that these components of the shoe have a greater effect on sport enhancement than the upper construction of the shoe.
A 1997 Study examining the use of flexible custom full-length foot orthotics and its proprioceptive affects on 12 golfers before and after 9 holes of simulated golf. The subjects were tested with and without foot orthotics over a 6 week period. All participants were given 2 pairs of custom orthotics, one for dress shoes and another for recreational wear (golf shoe, running). The tests allowed for adjusting to the custom inserts and again pre and post testing of a 9 hole simulated golf game was conducted. Only one of the test subjects did not care for the orthotics and individual differences in performance were noted but overall the custom inserts when statistically analyzed were determined significant.
Balance and proprioception were both measured as related to normal golf stance positions and analyzed to determine any benefits. The studies conclusions suggest that balance and proprioception are positively affected using this particular custom made foot orthotic, which may in turn assist in sport performance enhancement in golfers.
Additional health and sport benefits may be achieved from proper foot orthotics in certain muscle and skeletal conditions. It is important to get professional advice and to insure your concerns are properly addressed proper fit, product quality and durability. Many insurance plans cover these types of supports if they are warranted.
Dr. Robert Muir, B.Sc, D.C Clinic Director
Healthview Therapy Centre
5118 Roblin Blvd, Winnipeg MB