Having pain in your knees is unfortunately not an uncommon thing for budding tennis players.
All of the constant twisting, turning, starting and stopping makes knee related injuries almost synonymous with the game of tennis.
All of the best professional players in the world have experienced knee injuries at some point of their careers, and that’s with the best equipment, medical staff and physiotherapists at their disposal.
But even those with the best physical conditioning in the world can’t always escape minor injuries to their knees.
Suffering from knee pain can halt your tennis progress in its tracks.
It is a condition that can be fleeting or chronic, mild or severe, but either way playing tennis with knee pain is not fun at all.
However, finding a perfectly fitting shoe that suits your foot’s shape, size and arch can go a long way towards alleviating foot pain as you play the sport you love.
It is therefore important to identify what sort of knee pain you are experiencing, what type of feet you actually have (high arch, medium, flat, wide, narrow etc) and whether your current pair of tennis shoes are actually the main cause of the problem.
This way you can take the necessary steps to reducing your knee pain as you play tennis.
So, let’s explore exactly what knee pain is, what causes it and how you can identify the best tennis shoe for your foot type!
What is Knee Pain?
Knee pain is often caused by overuse of the patella tendon and its surrounding musculature.
This is the tendon that runs straight over the knee cap and is often irritated from excessive twisting movements as well as sudden stopping or starting that place unexpected pressure on this part of the body.
To be a bit more specific, knee pain is usually caused by the degradation of the patella tendon which can occur via micro-tears.
These are often caused by the explosive movements that are involved in tennis, along with heavy force being applied to such a pivotal area.
Unfortunately, knee pain is an often unavoidable part of playing many racket sports, let alone tennis.
Therefore, it is not always feasible just to rest until the injury subsides.
Sometimes some light exercise that stimulates blood flow to the damaged area can actually be beneficial to its healing process.
So, how exactly do you get knee pain in the first place? Well, it is not always just from playing too much tennis!
It can also be brought on from a sudden increase in the load on your knees, for example starting to exercise vigorously again after an extensive lay off.
Running on hard surfaces such as concrete, muscular imbalances, lack of core strength and not warming up effectively can all play their part in causing excess strain on the knees.
Therefore, it is no surprise that having sore knees is very common from players that are new to the game of tennis, as well as those that have been playing for an extended period of time.
However, whilst there are a range of things you can do to treat knee pain from a physical perspective, one of the often overlooked factors that can contribute to it is your footwear.
Wearing the wrong type of shoes for your feet, game style and surface you play on can all be a one way ticket to chronic knee pain in the future.
What to Look Out for in Your Tennis Shoes
When you are looking for a new pair of shoes, it is important to consider the following factors, especially if you are suffering from any kind of knee pain!
Proper Fitting and Sizing
Having a pair of tennis shoes that actually fit your feet correctly is arguably the most important factor that can reduce your knee pain as far as your equipment is concerned.
Now, whilst this may sound like an obvious point, it is an important one that many tennis players do not actually take notice of.
How many times have you seen players at your local club rock up with the latest and greatest tennis shoe that they have seen their favourite player wearing, only to complain about how they have sore feet or are still suffering from that nagging knee injury.
Unfortunately this happens all too often and it stems from recreational players not fully understanding which shoes they need for their particular foot type.
It is also worth noting that as we age, our feet tend to flatten out and effectively grow in length.
So, if you were a size 9 in your early 20s you may actually now be a size 10 in your mid 50s.
This is important to understand as many young people find themselves wearing tennis shoes that are too big, whereas many older people find themselves wearing shoes that are too small.
Both of these cases can cause serious complications and discomfort when on the tennis court and should not be taken lightly.
Another major factor in terms of your foot shape is the height of your arch.
Having a high arch, medium arch or a flat foot all play into which type of shoe is the most appropriate for you. Even having wider feet should be a consideration.
If you have a high arch, you should consider using a shoe that has a higher ankle support or lip.
This is an ideal fit for this foot type as it offers additional support for when your foot is attempting to slip out of the shoe.
High arched feet have a tendency to do this, so you will be best off avoiding shoes with a low cut ankle support.
However, if you have flat feet you would benefit from more support in the ankle area and a more rigid arch support.
These shoes won’t flex as much and will help to support your feet as you play.
A player with wide feet would be best off going for a shoe that is available in a wider width variation.
Alternatively you could opt for a shoe that is naturally wider and will cushion your feed in more of a suction manner.
These are ideal if you still want some good cushioning and support but need a shoe that will accommodate your wider feet.
Conversely, if your feet are more on the narrow side, then a narrower shoe will support your foot and not allow it to move around as you slide around the court.
Innersoles are a great way to construct a customised shoe set up that will suit your foot ideally.
These are usually used for high arched feet to elevate the heel and support the foot more comfortably.
Innersoles can also be used to compensate for a foot that either naturally rolls in or out.
Strategically placing small cut outs on to the side of the soles can help even out your weight distribution and train your feet to be placed more effectively.
Ultimately, wearing a shoe that is comfortable for you will of course be dictated primarily by the type of foot you have.
Therefore finding a shoe that actually fits your foot shape is the only really way to find a comfortable fit in the long run.
Furthermore, it is a great idea to try out as many shoes appropriate to your feet as possible so you can find the exact cushioning, structure and firmness on the shoe that suits you.
Best Tennis Shoes for Knee Pain
Whilst finding the perfect shoe for you is a very personal process depending on your specific foot requirements, if you are suffering from knee pain there are a few additional factors you should bear in mind.
More specifically, choosing a more substantial shoe that offers a lot of support in the midsole is ideal if you are suffering from knee pain.
This type of shoe is ideal for offering more support and cushioning overall, which is exactly what you need when suffering from knee or even hip pain.
With that being said, here are the best shoes for knee pain on the market at the moment!
Adidas Solecourt Boost
The Solecourt Boost shoes from Adidas offer premium support and reinforcement around the midsole area, perfect if you are suffering from knee pain.
These eco friendly shoes are great for the planet and your knees!
Nike Air Zoom Vapour Cage 4
This updated design from Nike combines flexibility with strength to offer a knee friendly shoe for all players.
Used by Rafael Nadal, the Vapour Cage 4s are ideal for protecting your knees and enhancing your longevity on the court thanks to their unique cushioning and supportive design.
Asics Court FF2
The Asics Court FF2 shoes are agile, fast yet supportive shoes.
They are best suited to the baseline player who likes to rely on their speed around the court to win points, but still needs a robust shoe that can stand up to consistent punishment.
These are also suitable for players suffering from knee pain.
Nike Court Air Zoom GP Turbo
These durable offerings from Nike are extremely supportive and well cushioned.
Their heel support and robust midsole cushioning makes them a great choice for players looking for knee pain relief.
Ultimately, the key to finding a shoe that will reduce your knee pain is to understand the specific requirements of your feet and cater directly to them.
Without taking this fundamental step, you will be left with a shoe that does not fit properly and could lead to further muscle imbalances throughout your body.
Picking a shoe that fits you well and offers a significant amount of padding and support in the midsole area is the ideal choice if you are suffering from knee pain whilst playing tennis.