Tennis requires a tremendous amount of explosive, lateral movement. Depending on your body type, fitness level, and foot shape, this may present issues. Heavier players, and those who become winded quickly, are at a higher risk of rolling their ankles. This is because of simple physics and muscle fatigue (which can cause lapses in proper footwork). In this piece, though, we’ll assume the perspective of a tennis player in relatively good physical condition, and alter their foot shape. We will analyze how tendencies toward pronation and supination can affect their play, and discuss possible remedies to ensure a safe, fun, and competitive atmosphere on the court.
Pronation v. Supination
A mnemonic device for remembering the difference between pronation and supination goes as follows:
Imagine you’re holding a bowl of soup in your palms. In order to do so, you must soup-inate. As you can see in the completely real, undoctored, 100% authentic image of Roger Federer holding a bowl of soup below (left), his hand is rotated outward, and his palm is up. The other image below (right) depicts a right foot pronating and supinating.
Pronation is the inward rotation of the hand or foot while performing normal movements. It naturally occurs throughout everyday life, but can result in injury if you surpass your standard range of motion.
Over-pronation is common in individuals with flat feet or low arches. It happens when too much inward force causes your muscles, tendons, and ligaments to stretch in an extreme and uncontrolled fashion. People who have a tendency to over-pronate will have greater wear along the inside soles of their shoes and near the balls of their feet.
Supination is the outward rotation of the foot that is commonly referred to as “rolling an ankle”. It naturally occurs during the push-off phase of running as the heel leaves the ground and the toes are used to propel the body forward. During intense lateral movements, balance and stability are essential in avoiding excessive supination.
Individuals with high arches are at the greatest risk of experiencing excessive supination, but athletes across many sports put their feet and ankles in vulnerable positions. People who have a tendency to supinate will have greater wear along the outside of the heel.
Symptoms of Over-Pronation and Excessive Supination
|Arch Pain||Shin Splints|
|Heel Pain||Achilles Tendinitis|
|Flat Feet||Knee Pain|
|Corns and Calluses||Hip Pain|
|Ankle Sprains||Back Pain|
Proactive Tennis Shoes
In tennis, then, athletes should concern themselves with which shoes are better suited for their particular foot shapes. Depending on your unique circumstances, you may need more or less arch height, lateral support, and overall stability in your tennis shoes.
Those who struggle with over-pronation should look for a shoe with maximum arch support, lateral support, cushioning, and stability. This will prevent their feet and ankles from rolling inward, and give them the tools necessary to keep playing comfortably. A few of the best tennis shoes for pronation include the following:
Those who struggle with excessive supination tend to wear out their shoes more quickly. They should look for a tennis shoe with good support, a low to mid-level arch, and maximum durability to prevent their feet and ankles from rolling outward. A few of the best tennis shoes for supination include the following:
Everybody’s needs are just a little bit different. Understanding your unique foot shape, and how it affects your game, will help you find an ideal tennis shoe to avoid injury, and continue playing comfortably. You can shop for these shoes and more at Tennis Express.
To read additional information on tennis shoes, check out our blogs below: