It is well known that weight transfer during a golf swing is necessary for optimizing power output. With the foot as the only contact point with the ground, this weight transfer is greatly linked to pressure distribution in the feet and an awareness of that pressure distribution.
The Sensory Side of Foot Function
The human foot is a fascinating structure of 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. Often appreciated for its biomechanical or kinematic role in athletic performance, there’s an aspect to foot function that is often under -appreciated and may arguably be more influential. This is the sensory aspect of the human foot.
The skin on the bottom of the foot is packed with special nerve endings called mechanoceptors, or tactile nerves. These nerves are used to anticipate the ground, perceive impact forces and sense shifts in our center of gravity. Once stimulated, these sensory nerves communicate with the brain via the somatosensory cortex to paint a picture of foot and body awareness.
Foot Awareness & Performance
The more accurate our foot and body awareness, the faster and more efficient we can coordinate our movements. If we apply this to golf, enhanced foot awareness through stimulation of the feet may mean a more accurate perception of pressure distribution during each phase of the golf swing.
These are our top four ways to build better awareness – from the ground up.
1. Barefoot Training
Barefoot movement prep and sensory stimulation before putting on golf shoes is a great way to prepare the body for performance. This is what Naboso Founder Dr Emily Splichal calls "barefoot before shod"
Just 5 minutes of barefoot prep work can wake up otherwise dormant nerve endings in the feet. Think of it like light switches. You are essentially priming the nervous system and connecting to the body in a more efficient way.
2. Harder Shoe Interface
Now this one is important to read carefully. When I say a harder shoe interface, I am referencing the perceived hardness of the foot to shoe relationship. The harder the midsole in a shoe the more sensory perception you will receive from that shoe.
A great analogy is the CrossFit or Olympic Lifting shoe. These sports require very accurate foot to ground awareness for power generation. The softer your insole, the more cushion in a shoe, or the softer the foot shoe interface the less accurate your foot awareness may be.
Minimal shoes, which are all the craze because they optimize foot function, increase foot awareness because they are technically “harder” compared to a cushioned shoe. Minimal shoes which are more sensory rich have been demonstrated to strengthen the intrinsic foot muscles.
3. Sensory Insoles.
All shoes, even the most minimal shoe will block important sensory information between the foot and ground. By bringing sensory stimulation into the shoe, you can mimic the foot awareness and brain activation of being barefoot.
The Naboso® Insoles are a low profile, non-biomechanical, textured insole that offers an innovative way to increase foot awareness despite having your shoes on. Feel the textured insole as you shift from the heel to the great toe and enhance the accuracy of your pressure distribution.
4. Trigger Point Release
This last one is one of my favorites. Just 5 minutes of rolling or releasing the foot on a golf ball or lacrosse ball can increase foot and body awareness. I suggest incorporating this into your movement prep before starting the barefoot stimulation suggested in #1.
To see a great technique for this foot release please see the video below:
As you begin to incorporate the above recommendations remember that foot awareness is a skill and requires daily training to enhance the perception of subtle shifts in pressure.
Want to take it even further, targeted foot strengthening, such as short foot, and foot to core training can enhance from the ground up power even more!
To learn more about barefoot science and from the ground up training please visit www.ebfaglobal.com