Tennis Ankle and Foot Injuries
Tennis provides a total body workout, and regular play is a relatively safe and enjoyable way to stay fit. It doesn’t take a great athlete to have fun playing tennis, but care must always be taken to avoid injuries to muscles not exercised as much off the tennis court.
This is especially true of the foot and ankle, which are put under considerable stress by the continuous side-to-side motion and quick stopping and starting the sport requires. Different court surfaces also stress the foot and ankle in different ways.
Similar racquet sports, such as racquetball, squash, badminton, and paddle tennis, also leave the foot and ankle susceptible to injury. Injuries common to tennis and other racquet sports include ankle sprains, stress fractures,plantar fasciitis, and tennis toe, among others. If they’re minor, some of these injuries are self-treatable. But if pain persists, we have a special interest in helping tennis players so make an appointment to see us in our Seattle clinic. We will help you get back on the court as quickly as possible.
Feet and Tennis Court Surface
Clay courts, and new crushed stone “fast-dry” courts are becoming more popular because players can slide on the soft surface. Clay and fast-dry courts are undoubtedly safest to the foot and ankle.
Outdoor courts are often surfaced with asphalt or concrete, and indoor courts with carpet, none of which allow for sliding.
Regardless of court surface, proper shoes are crucial to injury prevention.
Shoes should be specifically designed for tennis. Tennis is a very different sport than running with substantial side-to-side motion. It is critical that tennis shoes incorporate side-to-side stability to help prevent ankle sprains.
Padding is also critical in tennis shoes. Tennis shoes should have substantial padding under the ball of the foot and a little padding surrounding the toes in the toe box of the shoe.
Tennis shoes are also made to allow twisting of the foot without grabbing. If a shoe has too much traction then the twisting motion that occurs during tennis can lead to knee injuries.
If you have foot problems of any sort, see us before you buy shoes.We may recommend over-the-counter or custom orthotics that may change shoe fit. If you already wear prescription orthotic inserts, make sure that any potential new shoe feels comfortable with it in place.
It’s a good idea to have us evaluate your feet and ankles before taking to the court. We can check for excessive pronation or supination (turning inward or outward of the ankles), and if necessary prescribe a custom orthotic device for insertion in the shoe to correct the imbalance.
Because of the side-to –side motion of tennis, we make orthotics for tennis somewhat different than running / walking orthotics – especially if you are a serious tennis player. If you just play occasionally you can wear your regular orthotics in your tennis shoes.
Injuries and Treatment
Injuries on the tennis court range from simple to serious. Some are self-treatable, while others will require professional consultation with a physician. The most common injuries in all racquet sports include:
Above all, listen to your body. Persistent minor aches and pains are not normal and will become aggravated if ignored or neglected. Proper care of the whole body, and especially the foot and ankle, will make tennis and other racquet sports a healthy part of life for people of all ages.