How to choose the Best Tennis Shoes for Injury Prevention
Most Tennis Shoes Aren't Designed For Playing Tennis!
Caroline Wozniacki Ties Her adidas Tennis Shoes Thanks to CW Images at Flickr.com
There has been an explosion in types of tennis shoes available to buy in recent times as manufacturers compete with each other with styling, performance, safety and price to produce their best tennis shoes. This is good news for the sporting public, but increased choice also increases the chances of buying unsuitable footwear for the activity to be undertaken. This is even more likely where the term 'Tennis Shoes' can mean any athletic shoe, (as in the US) or shoes designed for playing tennis, (in many other countries).
Whereas the upside of this extremely competitive market has been the rapid development of shoes near perfectly evolved for their particular sport, the downside for those who compete in a variety of activities is that the once trusted 'Cross Trainers' may now not give you the best protection or performance for say just playing tennis.
In fact, if you play tennis competitively three or more times a week, it's very likely that a sport specific shoe will do your tennis and your feet and ankles a power of good. Playing in running shoes, for example will not give your feet the lateral support necessary for the rapid changes in pace and direction common in a game of tennis.
The Top Players Showcase the Best Tennis Shoes
The major manufacturers like adidas and Nike know that their survival in the market depends on fashioning state -of-the-art tennis shoes replete with every safety and comfort feature their designers can incorporate into every new shoe. These are given first to the most gifted players at the top of the game to promote the brand to the general public.
Despite the enormous research and development costs of producing shoes to cushion, protect and cool the feet of the tennis elite, they're often readily available to the public for about $100, maybe only $20 - $30 more than an 'average' tennis shoe. However, a cheaper, lesser known brand may be a better option as feet have a variety of shapes, sizes and requirements - Maria Sharapova's ideal shoe may not be yours!
When choosing your tennis shoe a few considerations need to be made to identify your type of feet, the surface you're going to play on, and your style and ability of play.
Only 10% of us have 'normal' feet!
About 90% of us have feet that have a tendency to roll inwards or outwards excessively during walking or running, causing uneven wear on the soles of our shoes. Those liable to over 'pronation' (about 66% of us), tend to have narrower feet with flat arches and a tendency for the feet to roll inwards. In these cases greater support is required in the mid-foot area.
Those prone to over 'supination', (about 25% of us), tend to have high arches and be 'pigeon-toed', and need more
cushioning in the mid-arch area to better absorb shocks and to stabilize the heel.
Feet can also be categorized as rigid or flexible. It's easy to check your own feet by grasping a foot with both hands and manipulating it in multiple directions to gauge flexibility. If resistance is low, your flexible feet require the opposite - an inflexible shoe. Feet tending to rigidity need a more flexible construction of tennis shoe.
Match Your Tennis Shoe To The Tennis Court Surface
Most reading this will play their tennis on a type of hard court, and most tennis shoes tend to be constructed with this 'default' surface in mind. It is possible to buy specific shoes for grass and clay court play, and this is just as well, as hard court shoes will not perform optimally on the other surfaces with consequent increased risks to your feet and ankles.
You'll often find these specialist surface shoes
more readily available during the appropriate tennis season - clay court tennis shoes tend to become more popular
leading up to Roland Garros, for example.
Grass court shoes have a pattern of nodules where the sole contacts the grass, for maximum traction. Clay court shoes have a herringbone pattern to better grip the loose top surface of the clay, whereas hard court shoes combine features of both.
Another variety of sole type is nearly smooth - the best alternative for indoor play. Generally speaking, the stronger the tread pattern on the shoe, the more rigid it will be, so there's a chance that your feet/shoe needs may be at odds with the requirements for the surface you intend to play on.
A must have book for beginners or experienced players, showing what injuries can occur on court and how to prevent or treat them. Tennis is a demanding sport and must be taken seriously, even if you are playing for fun or for some exercise.
Your ability, age and strength can affect your tennis shoe options. A powerful young man playing the game to a high level will likely need a more rigid tennis shoe with increased traction to cope with the greater forces he is able to generate. A elderly women playing the game, more for fitness than competition, may be better suited to a more flexible tennis shoe.
Buying Tennis Shoes - Brick and Mortar or Online?
So in practical terms how would you select your ideal tennis shoe for playing tennis? If you're going to a traditional brick and mortar sports shoe shop, you should be given some direction to guide you to an appropriate tennis shoe for your feet. The main drawback here is you won't find a good sports shoe shop in every town, let alone one that stocks a good range of tennis specific shoes, or has the one you want in the right size and width.
This is where online 'stores' excel, in that they can stock a massive range of shoes in enormous warehouses ready for immediate shipping. One of my best shoe merchants, 'Shoebuy', pride themselves on the speed at which they can ship after ordering.
If you know your way around a computer, you should be able to select a suitable tennis shoe from the large range by gradually refining your search: for example, women's shoes>tennis>clay court>wide fit, to get to a handful of suitable products.
Better yet go to this website's women's tennis shoe page, browse the shoes and pick one you might like. Click the link and you'll be taken to the 'More Info/Buy'page for your selected shoe. This is my job - to make shopping for tennis apparel as easy and stress free as possible.
A traditional tennis shoe shop used to score over online purchases in it's ability to exchange ill-fitting shoes for a better match. Nowadays, many online stores offer a no quibble, no cost postal returns service, which is especially valuable when buying tennis shoes in particular, as nothing short of a perfect fit will do. All that is asked is that the shoes are undamaged and returned in the original packaging.
Complete with illustrations and descriptions of common tennis injuries, this book will steer you past the dangers and guide you back to your best tennis fitness.
Lastly, try not to get too fond of your tennis shoes. Though they might seem to be 'worn in' and comfortable, the protective features in even the best shoes gradually reduce with age and use. A moderately used tennis shoe will need replacing ideally every year, and much sooner if you play every other day all year 'round.
There are nearly 16,000 foot and ankle related injuries every year worldwide from playing tennis, but by taking
a little extra care and time to choose the correct shoe for you, you're unlikely to feature in this statistic.
One Women's Tennis Apparel Visitor Wrote:
Cheri, "Thank you very much for all your assistance. I purchased the dress........and my wife was thrilled. Will continue to shop at your site. A very happy customer as a result of your great attention and service", Mark Siegel