Monday, November 18 2019


Teed Off (Jun 29, 2014)

Update: June, 29/2014 - 17:58

with Robert Bicknell

As mentioned last week, my tournament efforts in Da Lat fell short… by a foot. Or, more accurately, two feet. Mine.

In a nutshell, I have a condition called Hallux Rigidus, which is Latin for "stiff toe". In layman's terms, it's a form of arthritis in the big toe and I have it on both feet.

According to specialists, this type of arthritis usually affects sportsmen and, especially golfers and football players. I would suppose it's from the constant weight shifting and torque built up on the backswing and follow through. Also, interesting enough, while it appears that most golfers, myself included, take pains to ensure our clubs are fitted properly, we never seem to extend that thought to our footwear.

I've been playing golf and most other sports since I was five years old. Semi-pro baseball and football, tennis, lacrosse and even jumping out of airplanes. If you just consider the amount of golf I've played as a professional over 35 years, that's over 7,200 rounds of golf, which equals walking roughly 57,600,000 yards, or 52,669 km (figure 8,000 yards per course because there is a lot of side to side walking as well as off greens to the next tee box).

No wonder I'm tired and my feet hurt!

Every golf pro should have a dedicated crew or professionals behind him, not just a caddie and sponsors. As I got older, and wiser, I found these people to be indispensible.

In my case, TaylorMade fits me for clubs and clothing and keeps me supplied with balls and gloves; Dr Rafi Kot and his team at Vietnam Family Medical Practice keeps my body functioning; Ben Dell and Steve Chipman at Star Fitness help me train for strength and speed; Ultimate Nutrition, Herbalife and my wife take care of my nutritional needs.

But now, I have added Dr Wade Brackenbury and his crew at American Chiropractic Clinic to my team. Why I didn't think of this earlier is one of those mysteries of the universe. I actually went to ACC a few years ago when my back was bothering me, but never considered going to him for my feet, which was a big mistake as I could have saved myself years of pain and aggravation if I did so earlier.

As I said, most golfers never even think of having their shoes custom fitted. Unfortunately, like clubs, one shoe size does not fit all. Golf and athletic shoes use a generic optimum "fit" formula when constructing the shoe to protect the foot and allow wide range of motion, but again, not everyone is created equal. We have different feet and, sometimes, it means that generic isn't good enough. In fact, it can cause damage.

I wish I knew this 35 years ago.

Earlier this week, I met with Dr Brackenbury for an examination and some laser treatments which actually relieved some of the joint pain. He then scanned my feet with a machine from Switzerland prior to fitting my golf shoes with orthotic inserts which are designed to  alleviate the pressure on the toe joint, ease the pain and keep me playing for a few more years.

According to Dr Brackenbury and one of his associate doctors, who plays a lot of golf himself, many of the Korean players come to him for orthotic inserts, so it seems the Koreans know something the rest of us - especially Vietnamese, have not yet learned, that being that just because a shoe is from a top manufacturer, it doesn't necessarily mean it will fit you correctly and I don't mean just size and width, but more importantly, the sole of your foot and the arch.

In my younger days, I had a pretty high arch, but seem to have flattened out as I got older. A few hard landings on the parachute jumps might've contributed to that, as did doing other stupid things as a youth. Fortunately, my knees are still somewhat OK.

My strongest advice to the readers of the column, as well as my students, is that if your feet are sore after a round of golf, or you feel any pain or discomfort, take some time and go to ACC.

Because, it might not be you... It might be your shoes. — VNS


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