It is early in the year and all PGA golfers arrive at Pebble Beach ready to go. They have been training, practicing, and arrive with new clubs anticipating a solid performance. Pebble is considered one of those hilly courses that can frequently reveal weaknesses in the physical status of a PGA golfer. Add in cold mornings hovering around 38 degrees and the body can get cranky.
A few of the golfers came into the PGA Performance trailers with generalized lower back pain and stiffness. Not unusual under the circumstances but in a couple of instances it wasn't due to dysfunctional mechanics in the lower back. Detailed examination found their lower back pain coming from faulty foot mechanics - hallux limitus. A significant component to big toe function is the metatarsophalangeal joint. The MTP joint joins the first long bone(metatarsal) to the first bone of the big toe (phalanx). The MTP joint allows the foot to roll forward and push off. It supports approximately 50% of the your body weight during this phase of your walking gate.
When a golfer cannot perform this normal function the lower back will assist the walking gait by lifting the hip (contraction of the quadratus lumborum). If big toe pain or restriction is in the trail leg, push off in the initial downswing and acceleration phase cannot be performed efficiently. If the condition is in the lead leg the golfer will have difficulty transferring weight onto their lead leg. Other bodily accommodations can occur but in these select cases it was in their lower backs. Both golfers had never had a functional movement assessment so this pattern went undetected. Unfortunately they had worked hard in the off season but their participation and performance will be on hold for the next 2-6 weeks. A very costly experience that could have been avoided if they had a functional movement assessment and corrective measures taken.