Tennis requires a lot of sudden stops and starts, as well as repetitive side-to-side movements and jumps. These actions can be stressful on the feet and ankles for any tennis player, from the beginner to the pro. In light of this, common tennis injuries include ankle sprains, stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, and, of course, tennis toe.
Injuries during tennis can be prevented through overall body conditioning to build strength and flexibility. The muscles should be stretched before and after playing, paying special attention to the muscles of the lower leg and calf area. It is important to always see a podiatrist for any type of chronic ache or pain in the ankle or foot during or after playing tennis.
What should I look for when shopping for tennis shoes?
Tennis sneakers should have cushioning and shock absorption to stabilize the feet and ankles and absorb the constant impact placed on the feet. The sneaker should be designed to provide support for the lateral movement tennis requires; it should also have a reinforced toe, a roomy toe box, a firm heel counter, a snugly-fitting heel area, and good cushioning at heel and ball of the foot.
To ensure a proper fit for tennis shoes, be sure to measure both of your feet while standing; buy a shoe size that accommodates the larger of your two feet, since most people have feet that are slightly different in size. There should be about half an inch between your toes and the front of the sneaker to allow for wiggle room. Try the sneaker on with the socks you will wear while playing tennis, and shop for the sneakers in the latter part of the day, when the feet are more swollen. Test the shoes for support, cushioning, and flexibility by walking and jumping on a hard surface, as well as completing a few quick turns. The sneakers should be comfortable from the start and should not have to be “broken in” to fit properly.