Victoria Azarenka recently ended her 2014 season due to an ongoing foot injury. Kei Nishikori almost withdrew from the U.S. Open after suffering a toe injury. Forget tennis elbow for a moment. Taking care of your trotters is one of the most important injury preventions for tennis players. MyTennisLessons got some advice from Dr. Jeffrey LaMour of the Family Foot & Ankle Clinic about the most common tennis foot injuries. Here’s how to prevent them so that you don’t commit a foot fault.
Do the Wobble
Ankle sprains are the most common tennis injury, according to the International Tennis Federation. In order to prevent them, always stretch and jog before playing to warm up your muscles. It’s also important to get the right shoes for the arch of your foot. Instead of buying shoes online, go into a store and have a sales associate fit you for the right shoes. Those who are especially prone to injury can try ankle braces or athletic tape for increased support. You can also strengthen your ankles by doing wobble board exercises. And don’t forget to move all the tennis balls off the court when playing; you don’t want to suffer an ankle injury from tripping over a ball!
On the Run
Are you running properly on the tennis court? If not, you may be prone to plantar fasciitis, which can be caused by over-striding, tight muscles or running on your toes. If you want to avoid that intense pain in your heels, make sure you’re running with the correct technique. Active.com recommends learning to relax your lower legs when running so that tension held there doesn’t pull on the Plantar tendon, landing on the middle of your foot instead of your heel, and keep your feet under your center mass instead of using your legs to pull you forward.
Stress fractures are an overuse injury and often occur from repetitive motion. If tennis is your ONLY workout you could be at risk for a stress fracture. Try lower impact activities like swimming and cycling along with your tennis lessons, suggests the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. With a new activity, start slowly and “gradually increase time, speed and distance,” AOOS recommends.
Put a Sock on It
Foot blisters may seem like a small injury, but they are easy to get and can certainly prevent you from playing. Blisters are caused by friction, so again, choosing the right footwear is of the utmost importance for tennis players. Don’t forget about socks either. In 2006, the University of Missouri-Columbia tested 10 brands of athletic socks and found nylon socks were most likely to prevent blisters, while cotton socks performed the worst. If you’re wearing new shoes, you can also double up on socks to avoid friction.