COMMON FOOT RELATED PROBLEMS IN PLAYING TENNIS
posted: Jun 12, 2018.
Corns and Callouses
Corns and callouses indicate pressure, friction and imbalance of the foot. Do not use commercial acid corn “cures”, since irritation to the skin or infection can result. Because most corns and callouses are signs of some underlying disorder, they cannot be eliminated permanently until the disorder itself is corrected. Professional attention from a Chiropodist should be sought as simple corrective procedures can be performed to relieve disabling problems.
Sudden movements of the foot and leg may result in a “tennis leg”, or a tear in the interior of the calf muscles. Never play with calf muscle pain. If this arises, seek medical help.
Tennis toe is characterized by severe, throbbing pain beneath the toenail with symptoms including a vague swelling of the toe and a purple discolouration under the nail. The condition usually affects the first and second toes and the discolouration is the result of hemorrhaging which may appear as vertical streaks beneath the nail palate. The problem is caused by modern tennis shoes which give such good traction that the foot is forced to the front of the shoe in sudden stops, thus traumatizing the nail. Initially, cold compresses and analgesics such as aspirin can help if pain is severe. Professional care by a Chiropodist can help.
Wear proper shoes which give good support to your feet. Shoes should be designed specifically for racquet sports, should support the arch firmly, and allow sufficient room to move the toes. Replace worn-out shoes. Patches or other repairing techniques are temporary at best, and excessively worn shoes can affect both your feet and playing style. NEVER play in improperly fitted or borrowed shoes. Running shoes will not give the support needed for the side-to-side motions of racquet sports. As a rule, the more expensive shoes designed for racquet sports are of better quality.
Reinforcement at toe for foot drag.
Sole at ball of foot should be well padded since this is where most pressure is exerted.
Sides of shoe should be sturdy for stability during continual side-to-side motions.
Heel should be well cushioned for absorption of jarring forces.
Toe box of shoes should allow for ample room in order to prevent blisters.
Back and sides of heel (heel counter) should be firm for support and well padded.
Returning To Play After a Day Off
Do not attempt to return to full activity after an injury or other forced layoff. Return gradually, or get professional advice if unsure on how to resume your playing program. Many foot problems can be aggravated by racquet sports. Inflammation, stress, and strain won’t necessarily mean one has to stop playing altogether. A proper assessment and appropriate treatment by a Chiropodist may pave the way to pain-free playing.
Acute injuries are not always the cause of problems, nor are shoes. Often “overuse syndromes” cause subtle, continual stress over many years. A foot imbalance may be the cause of your pain. If so, a prescription orthotic would help.
Other Interesting Tips
Drink lots of water before, during and after your match. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and drinks that are high in sugar.
Warm-up means to get warm.
Don’t forget to do calf stretching exercises. Also, building your quads and stomach muscles will help to support the back
Hold the tennis racquet as you would a small bird. This seems to reduce the tendency towards overuse syndromes of the arm.
Helpful Hints in Tennis
- Work on flexibility, strengthening exercises and building up your level of conditioning.
- Prevent injury – warming up before starting play, without fail. Consult a qualified instructor and develop your own warmup routine, centering on specific muscles which come into play during a tennis match.
- Get expert instruction. The pros will help you as well as provide you with various fitness programs to suit your particular physical condition and level of play.
- Consider a running program. Daily running will help you sustain a top level of play through long matches.
- Socks have improved! Try those for tennis to wick perspiration away and to reduce friction.
- Wear tennis shoes for stability and cushioning. (Not running shoes which are designed for forward motions and could easily lead to an ankle sprain in tennis.)
- If you are prone to ankle sprains, tape up with the proper athletic product, or consult a sport shop for an ankle brace designed for tennis.
- Keep a couple of bandaids in your bag in case they’re needed.
- If you have callouses, place 1/8″ or 1/4″ moleskin or felt on each side of the callous to reduce pressure until proper care can be provided by a podiatrist.
- Calf muscles can get tight in tennis. Do lots of runners’ stretches before, between, and after matches. This is especially good for women who spend time in dress shoes since when you go into lower heeled tennis shoes, calves shorten.
- Sore feet or legs in tennis may be a result of a mechanical foot imbalance. This can often be easily corrected by a sports podiatrist with proper orthotics.
Brought to you by Doctor John A. Hardy, owner of Toronto's foot clinic, Academy Foot and Orthotics Clinic.