Coming off the exciting action in Wimbledon (can you believe Djokovic beat Federer?), you might be thinking about getting back on the tennis court yourself. Before you do, though, there are a few things you should know about how tennis can affect your foot and ankle health.
Your feet and ankles are put under a lot of strain when you engage in the continuous side-to-side motion and quick stopping and starting that a game of tennis requires. The type of court you play on can also put additional stress on your feet. Because of these stressors, people who play tennis and similar sports like racquetball, squash and badminton commonly deal with injuries like ankle sprains, stress fractures, plantar fasciitis and tennis toe, (similar to runner’s toe, it’s anoften-painful collection of blood under your toenail.)
In order to try and prevent some of these injuries, there are a few different steps you can take. First, select shoes that are specifically designed for tennis. Unlike running shoes, tennis shoes are made with a little more flexibility in order to allow for side-to side sliding; they also have extra padding in the toe box to protect your piggies during the sudden stops and starts you encounter during a match.
Before getting on the court and after you finish playing, you need to stretch out your calf and hamstring muscles, which go through a lot during a match. Some basic stretches that will go a long way to prevent tennis injuries include the hurdler's stretch, the wall push-up, and the standing hamstring stretch.
Even with the perfect shoes and all the right stretches, some tennis injuries will be unavoidable, especially if you are just getting back into the sport after a long hiatus. If you experience foot or ankle pain after playing tennis, don’t assume it’s normal and continue to play—you could be exasperating an injury! Instead, schedule an appointment with your Houston podiatrist, who can give you a full examination and let you know if it’s safe to continue playing.