Foot and Ankle Golf Injuries: Treatment and Prevention



Foot and ankle injuries from golf may not occur as often as hand and elbow injuries, but they all stem from traumatic blows and overuse. Some might be sustained after your rounds, while others can be acquired from incorrect golf swings. We’ve identified the most common golf-related injuries to the foot and ankle and how you can treat them:


Intermetatarsal Neuroma

This is one of the most common golf-related foot injuries that affects the non-dominant foot. For example, if the golfer swings the club right-handed, the neuroma will occur in the left foot and vice versa. An overuse injury, neuroma is caused by repetitive force placed on the nerve between the metatarsal bones when the golf swing causes the forefoot to invert. Symptoms include burning, numbness, and shooting pain in the toe area.


Treatment: NSAIDs, corticosteroid or alcohol sclerosing injections and orthotics can treat intermetatarsal neuroma. If the neuroma becomes severe, surgical intervention might be necessary.


Extensor Tendinitis

Now here’s a golf injury that occurs after playing rounds on hilly golf courses — extensor tendinitis can be experienced by golf cart drivers that use parking brakes excessively. The motion of depressing the parking brake can cause a repetitive strain that irritates the tendons, resulting in tendinitis. Tendinitis symptoms include dorsal pain and forefoot swelling.


Treatment: The priority when it comes to treating tendinitis is eliminating the tendon irritation through NSAIDs, corticosteroid injections, and immobilization.


Lateral Ankle Pain

This golf-related ankle injury is caused by the excessive motion of the rear foot during a golf swing follow through. During longer shots, the force applied on the ankle ligaments can cause painful strains. This also makes your ankle more vulnerable to spraining. Golfers who have lateral ankle pain may also experience lateral midfoot pain and some swelling.


Treatment: Stabilizing the ankle can be solved with either compression ankle brace or a functional stirrup ankle brace. Orthotic can help control subtalar and midtarsal joint motion, and a custom “Richie”-type brace may be needed if there is still instability in the ankle.


Hallux Subungual Hematoma

This injury can be sustained by golfers who consistently apply excessive pressure to the big toe during the golf swing. Similar to lateral ankle pain, it can occur after the follow through, affecting the dominant foot. For instance, right-handed players might have their right foot propelled onto the tip of the hallux when the golf swing is finished. When repeated, this movement can cause a jamming of the toe and the subungual tissue might be injured, forming blood under the nail plate. Hematoma can manifest through pain in the hallux, especially when there is pressure placed on the hallux toenail.


Treatment: Since there is trapped blood, treating hallux subungual hematoma involves draining the blood under the nail and providing accommodative padding to decrease the pressure on the nail bed.

These golf-related injuries can be avoided with proper conditioning and movement. Adjusting the mechanics of your swing will decrease the inversion and supination of your foot. As for tendinitis, drivers will have to alternate between using the left and right feet on brake, and seek flat areas when parking golf carts. With these simple adjustments, you can easily prevent the occurrence of foot and ankle injuries.


Learn the right techniques to reduce the risk of golf-related foot and ankle injuries — watch our Kai Fitness for Golf DVD Package now!


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