Insoles for tennis players

How Tennis Shoe Insoles Help You On The Court

by Mark Paigen 5 minute read

Tennis can be rough on your body. All the sudden starts and stops, pivoting, and quick movements forward, backward and side-to-side. Your feet end up bearing the brunt of the impact, putting them at risk for some common injuries...unless you take good care of them.

The Basics ---

  • Tennis players demand a lot from their feet with all the quick movements the game requires. Taking proper care of your feet can help you avoid injury and stay on the court longer.
  • Injuries like stress fractures, tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, bunions, and corns are common among tennis players. Insoles can help improve alignment and abnormal foot motions that are the root cause of these problems.
  • Firm arch support can correct pronation issues and improve alignment in a way soft foam insole don't. Insoles with deep heel cups stabilize the feet and prevent rolled ankles.
  • We recommend Tread Labs Pace or Dash insoles. For firm support, go for Pace. If you like super-firm support and a ventilated top cover, check out Dash. The carbon fiber arch support is thin and light, while offering the stiffness you need for superior energy return.

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What You Need To Know ---

On the court, your footwork is critical. The right pair of tennis shoes can help you avoid injury and make a difference in your game. But there's also one other piece of footwear that you should be using. Before talk about that, let's talk about why the right footwear is so important.

What Are The Most Common Tennis Injuries?

Tennis puts a lot of stress on your feet. The instant changes in direction, frequent acceleration and abrupt stops put pressure on your feet and ankles, usually when they're in a rotated position. Rapid stops can force your toes into the front of your shoes.

Injuries among tennis players can run the gamut from minor to major, but either way, they're unwelcome if they're taking you off the court or preventing you from playing you best. 

According to Dr. Kris DiNucci, a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, "Because playing tennis requires quick, repetitive foot movements and continuous foot pressure, neuromas are common." He continues, "In addition, those same movements can cause athletes to develop plantar fasciitis."

Beyond neuromas and plantar fasciitis, tennis players are also susceptible to foot injuries like:

Tennis injury prevention starts with playing in the right tennis shoes.

What Are The Best Tennis Shoes?

Selecting the right tennis shoes helps mitigate some of the stress you put on your body, but what should you be looking for when you're buying new shoes for tennis? According to World Tennis Magazine, there are six things to consider:

  • Lateral Support - With all the changes in direction you make during a tennis match, your shoes need to hold your feet steady. With adequate lateral support, you'll move better and prevent tennis injuries. Pro tip: Special lacing systems can boost lateral support, so find shoes that incorporate them for the ultimate in steady support.
  • Cushioning - Always choose tennis shoes with good cushioning. Avoid ones that are extra soft. That cushioning means you're not getting enough support.
  • Court - What type of surface are you playing on? Grass, clay and hard courts all play differently, so find the best tennis shoe for the type of court you're playing on. 
  • Sole Type - Look at the pattern on the bottom of the tennis shoes you're thinking about buying. Some are herringbone for hard courts. Some are studded for glass courts.  Some are smooth for indoors. Find ones that will give you the best movement on the surface you're playing on. 
  • Shoe Size - As with any shoe purchase, you want to make sure your tennis shoes fit properly. If they're too big, you'll end up with blisters. Too small and your toes will be bumping into the front of the shoe. 
  • Comfort - Above all, you want your tennis shoes to be comfortable so you can play as many sets as you want. Make sure there's adequate tongue padding and that the laces don't dig in. 

In addition to these considerations, you should also think about arch support in your tennis shoes. Like other shoes, tennis sneakers are made with the minimum amount of arch support. Adding insoles to your tennis shoes can not only help your game, but also help you avoid injury.

How Can Insoles Help Tennis Players?

As Podiatrist Dennis Sharnoff says, orthotics are helpful to tennis players to:

  • Reduce fatigue and lessen leg cramps.
  • Better align the foot and lower extremities.
  • 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.
  • Improve shoe comfort and support.
  • Rejuvenate an old, tired pair of shoes.

The best insoles for tennis shoes will increase the contact area between the bottom of your foot and your shoe. That stabilizes your foot which minimizes blisters and overall friction. It also controls pronation.

Insoles also increase your proprioception, or the sense of the how your body is positioned. That heightened awareness translates to faster response and a higher level of play.

What Are The Best Insoles For Tennis?

When it comes to buying insoles for your tennis shoes, you have tons of options. Figuring out whether you need custom orthotics or over-the-counter insoles is easier than you think.

The truth is, unless you are diabetic, a high performance athlete, or have serious biomechanical issues and recurring injuries that aren't addressed with over-the-counter insoles, you probably don't need custom orthotics.

When you're looking at over-the-counter insoles for your tennis shoes, look for:

  • An arch support that matches the contours of your feet. Arch support is only effective when it mimics the shape of your arch. Avoid one-size-fits-all insoles and instead, look for insoles that offer a choice of arch heights so you get a semi-custom fit.
  • Firm support that will hold up to the impact of your movements on the court. Soft, cushioned insoles aren't made for support. Look for arch supports that have a strong structure and won't collapse.
  • Deep heel cups that stabilize the rear foot and concentrate the fatty pad beneath your heel for additional cushioning.
  • A durable insole that will hold up to what you put it through. Having to replace your insoles every time the top cover wears out is expensive. Insoles with replaceable top covers, like Tread Labs, save you money in the long run.  

Before you hit the court for your next match, slip a pair of the best tennis insoles into your tennis shoes and see how they improve your comfort, reduce your fatigue and lessen leg cramps, and better align your foot and lower extremities.

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