How to Prevent Heel Pain When Playing Tennis
As fun a game as tennis is, one of the most common downsides of the game is developing heel pain problems, including heel spurs and plantar fasciitis. This happens because of the high impact forces experienced by the ligaments, bones and muscles every time you play the game. However, it's possible to minimize the risk of developing heel pain by being aware of the forces that cause it and learning how to do things differently. Read on for some ideas that will mean you can play tennis regularly whilst minimizing the chances of hurting your heels.
Wear the right shoes
Plantar fasciitis is a debilitating condition that is caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia (a long ligament that runs along the bottom of the foot). It is a common complaint among tennis players due to repeated bouts of extensive forces such as running and jumping.
To avoid developing plantar fasciitis, it's crucial that you play in a pair of good shoes with plenty of arch support. Once the shoes start to wear down, be sure to replace them as once the heel has worn down, your foot will take on more stress, and there is a greater chance of injury. If you have flat feet, it's worth getting some sports orthotics at your local sports store for extra protection. By raising the arch, the tendon is not stretched as much as it would be otherwise.
Make sure you stretch
Make sure that you stretch well before you play your match, and then do the same after you've played. Try and stretch for about 15 minutes each time, including some foot stretches each time.
Be sure to train properly
Excessive training can lead to heel pain, so always be sure that you are not overdoing it on the court and stop playing at the first sign of any soreness in the heel. This is especially important if you're playing on a cement sloped court, as this sort of surface is a lot tougher on the feet. If you're returning to tennis after a break, ease in slowly so that you minimise the chance of causing yourself an injury.
Sometimes, injury occurs anyway, often because of biomechanical factors such as having one foot or leg stronger than the other or decreased flexibility in the foot. If this is the case, consider booking an appointment with a podiatrist, who should be able to help you deal with your heel pain and get you back onto the court once more.