Tennis can put an extraordinary amount of stress on the feet. There are five primary foot movements responsible for this:
- Short sprints (typically less than 10 – 15 feet in distance) produce shear stress that can lead to blistering and damage to the fat pads.
- Short jumps and hops produce impact and shear stress, resulting in potential trauma to the feet, including stress fractures, bruising, blistering and forefoot pain.
- Lateral movements such as shuffle steps, slides, crossover steps and sideways sprints produce the potential for strains and sprains, shear stress on feet and skin/soft tissue trauma.
- Pivots and rapid directional changes increase shear stress on the feet and may produce soft tissue trauma and increase the risk of strains and sprains.
- Lunging / extending produces strong impact on the forefoot and heel, shear stress on soft tissues, trauma to the feet and potential muscle strains.
Of course, the surface on which you play has a big influence on the amount of stress on the feet. But, whichever surface you’re playing on, footwear has an important role in keeping your feet healthy.
Tips for choosing tennis footwear
- Choose tennis footwear that is appropriate for the surface on which you will be playing (clay, grass, synthetic, and paved or hard composition surfaces are the most common).
- If you have had previous ankle injuries or are inclined to twist or sprain your ankles, choose shoes with good ankle support.
- For optimal protection, use an integrated approach – use padded socks with your shoes, and any inserts or orthotics prescribed or recommended by a doctor or foot health professional.