Golf stance and swing can be improved using heel lifts in golf shoes.

Golf Stance and Swing Improvements Using Heel Lifts or Shoe Lifts

Golfers can benefit from recent research, which shows that an easy method of learning and maintaining the "forward balance" required for combining distance with control is to insert a wedge or heel lift in the golf shoe. This changes the stance, and moves the golfers center of balance forward onto the ball of the foot, rather than back toward the heel, and the result is a more powerful and controlled swing, resulting in better accuracy and increased distance.

Based on peer-reviewed research, the result of placing heel lifts in the golf shoes of amateur golfers is dramatic: the average golfer studied added 44 yards to their drives with a 1-wood, and 4 yards to their 5-iron shots! 

Golfers studied were also more accurate with heel lifts in their golf shoes: an average of 8 yards closer to the centerline to the pin along with the increased distance for the drive.

This research is documented in a research paper presented at the Fifth International Symposium on Footwear Biomechanics, in 2001.

Another study reported in the Journal of Physiological and Manipulative Therapy indicated that the use of  orthotics could increase club-head velocity by enough to add 15 yards distance to the drives of golf pros. This may be a result of the heel elevation that is part of nearly all orthotics.

Anecdotal evidence supports these results: a South Carolina golf Pro, Arthur Much, stated that using heel lifts in his golf shoes "...cut six strokes from my score..." and the results of removing and replacing the heel lift were reproducible for him - lower scores with the heel lift, higher scores without.

Most golf shoes today have a removable and replaceable insole or footbed, which allows golfers to take advantage of the use of heel lifts without permanent modification of the shoes. Placing a firm heel lift beneath the insole allows a golfer to experiment with the height required for best shoe comfort and swing.

While the biomechanical studies used the same height shoe inserts in both shoes, it is also possible to use differing height lifts to correct for specific issues. For example, it is common for a golfer to develop a habit of "falling off" the ball during the drive, and correcting this requires that the golfer's center of weight be more forward on the trailing foot (the right foot for right-handed golfers). This shift in balance can be achieved by using slightly more height under the trailing foot. Adjustable height heel lifts are ideal for this purpose.

The use of heel lifts in golf shoes seems to be a powerful training aid for the golf stance and swing, whether used in one or both golf shoes.

Suggestions on Choosing Heel Lifts for Golf

  • Use a firm heel lift, rather than a soft pad, as soft heel pads reduce the golfers control over balance, since the foot is not firmly supported. Soft pads also cause heel rubbing in the shoe when walking the course, and this can cause blisters as well as Achilles' tendon inflammation.
  • If less height is used for the leading foot, it can cause the golf shoes to fit and feel different, which may disturb the established stance. Using firm lifts placed under the insole will minimize this difference in feel.
  • Use an adjustable heel lift until you have established the exact height you require for best shoe fit and comfort, by experimentation. Once you have settled on the height to be used, you may wish to use fixed-height heel lifts for consistency.
  • In general, less than 12mm (1/2") of heel elevation can be comfortably inserted in a shoe. The maximum height you can use in a pair of shoes will be affected by the style and fit of the shoes, as well as your foot size. Large feet or lace-up shoes can accommodate more height.
Many different types of heel lifts are available, offering different combinations of durability, adjustability, comfort, and control for sports. The Clearly Adjustable heel lift is a firm adjustable lift that is designed for athletic use. 

Find the right heel lifts for your needs - A Guide to choosing products.

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This information is presented as a summary of research reported on the Internet. ©2003