Tennis is a popular summer sport amongst all ages and nations. It is a game that at an elite level requires great fitness, strength and agility, not to mention skill of course. Tennis players, particularly at the elite level are highly susceptible to foot and ankle injuries due to the high levels of stress that they put their feet under.
What contributes to tennis foot injuries?
The continuous side to side motion and quick stop starting as well as the different court surfaces that all players face contribute to the high level of foot related injuries amongst tennis players. Tennis foot injuries range from minor injuries such as blisters, blackened toenails, corns and calluses to more serious sprains, stress fractures and tendon injuries such as plantar fasciitis.
A New York Times article interviewed Jim Courier, a former world No. 1 who reported to go through as many as five pairs of shoes in a tournament. “It was painful in the ’90s; now, nearly 20 years later, the amount of sliding on hardcourts that these players do is something that’s foreign to me. Players these days are moving faster, they’re stopping faster, and that’s putting more pressure on their feet.”
Australian tennis player Lleyton Hewitt has also suffered with a chronic toe injury which has forced him to undergo surgery multiple times and sidelined him on numerous occasions to pain. It is believed he has received pain injections into the toe to get through some of his matches.
Avoiding tennis foot injuries
So how can you avoid tennis injuries? Proper fitting sport shoes are important in any sport. Tennis shoes provide more stability for side to side movement and they are stiffer through the soles to allow for stop-starting pressures on the court. Make sure the shoes are comfortable and properly fitting. Cushioned and moisture wicking socks can also be helpful to prevent blisters and minor injuries. For more serious injuries sometimes braces and orthotics are necessary to control the mechanics and alignment in your feet. A podiatrist can assist in treatment and prevention of all types of tennis foot injuries.