Orthotics Can Help Keep Your Players Playing
Tennis teaching pros and facility managers have a common goal — to get as many people as possible to play tennis. It’s simple: The more they play, the more they pay — for racquets, shoes, apparel, court time, etc.
Since keeping people on court is so important to your business, you need to do everything you can to keep your players healthy. One area that you need to be aware of, and need to be able to communicate to your players about, is foot care.
If a player’s feet, arches, ankles, or lower back hurt, rather than have them stop playing, suggest that they look into getting orthotics for their tennis shoes. Like with any health-related issue, however, have your players or members consult a podiatrist or other doctor for specific care. Orthotics, which are shaped like the bottom of the foot, are placed in the shoe and affect a player’s gait, yielding better function and performance. Orthotics can be prescribed by podiatrists, orthopedists, trainers, physical therapists, and chiropractors for a number of reasons, including:
- To reduce fatigue and lessen leg cramps.
- To better align the foot and lower extremities.
- To beat a wide variety of foot problems, including flat feet, high arches, plantar fasciitis/heel spur syndrome, bunions, neuromas, joint pain and instability, and calluses.
- To improve shoe comfort and support.
- To rejuvenate an old, tired pair of shoes.
Many consumers don’t realize that the insoles in an athletic shoe are removable and can be replaced with other types of insoles or orthotics. When players are considering orthotics, they need to be aware of the two types: over-the-counter or custom.
Over-the-counter orthotics are fabricated as gender specific, with sizes ranging from small, medium, and large, and with activity-specific designs. The OTC product will elevate the arch of the foot and attempt to restore the foot to normal foot function and alignment. OTC orthotics are a good starting point that may improve a player’s comfort and relieve pain.
Custom-fitted orthotics, on the other hand, are fitted to a player’s feet and particular foot pathology. When the orthotic device is worn during tennis or other activity, the foot functions closer to normal and more efficiently. But once the device is removed, the foot returns to its normal pathologic position or pre-existing state. Custom-fitted orthotics are designed and intended to alter the mechanics of the foot significantly, so the foot and lower extremities function closer to normal. This translates into better performance with less foot and leg fatigue and pain.
Today, many people spend a lot of money on over-the-counter products like insoles, and you may want to consider stocking them in your shop. Often, these products will provide some help for your players, but if pain persists, have them seek professional help.
The last thing you want to do is lose a player to pain or an ailment that is easily treatable.
See all articles by David Sharnoff
About the Author
David Sharnoff is a podiatrist in Shelton, Conn.. He is a longtime advisor to the WTA Tour and a member of Tennis magazine's Technical Advisory Panel. Dr. Sharnoff also is a longtime contributor to professional journals in the field of podiatric medicine.