Would it surprise you to learn that Kobe Bryant has flat feet? The Black Mamba also shares the honor of being a flat footer in the NBA hall of fame with Patrick Ewing and Tim Duncan. In fact, a good twelve percent of everyone in the National Basketball League has flat feet. This includes Pau Gasol, Andre Iguodala, Tony Parker, and Dwayne Wade. Distance runners Alan Webb and Saïd Aouita ran off with several Olympic medals with their flat feet.
While flat-footed athletes may have to be more mindful of the state of their feet than others, it is not an insurmountable handicap. It may require a bit of extra work in the gym, at the barre, on the court or out on the practice field to compensate for some of the trouble that flat feet can cause.
They may have to take part in some physical therapy to strengthen their arches and improve their sense of balance and coordination. However, flat feet is no real obstacle to being a pro athlete, let alone someone who just likes smacking the ball around a little on Sundays.
What Your Tennis Shoe Needs
Foremost, athletic shoes, especially for tennis, must have wide and flat soles to provide stability plus a solid structure upfront to prevent excess wear. Athletic shoes for running would do well to have a treaded sole for better traction.
If you have flat feet, your tennis shoes should be designed to give a natural lift to the mid-section of your foot to provide you with that arch gap you need. It must also prevent over-pronation.
This will give you better stability plus control of motion while playing. There are three other important factors to keep in mind while looking for tennis shoes when you have flat feet.
- The outer sole of your shoe must bend only at the toe area. It should not bend in the middle where your arch would be.
- The rear part of the shoe should always be rigid and never bending forward. This will add better support to your heel bones.
- The toe box of the shoe should be wide enough to allow wide feet as people who have fallen arches tend to have wider feet
There are also the insoles to think about. Insoles aid in adding firmer and more secure support for your heels, arch and metatarsal bones. Insoles also aid in aligning the gait in place and reducing stress on your lower body parts.
Above all, you must look for stability and support in your tennis shoes. You must also have good shock absorption and the shoes must fit comfortably.
So, now that you know what to look for in a tennis shoe, here are some reviews of the five best. These shoes, in particular, are considered most beneficial to people with flat feet.
1. ASICS GEL-Solution Speed 3 Tennis Shoe (Men / Women)
The GEL-Solution® speed 3 tennis shoe comes with a low-profile design with a seamless PU flexion fit upper and the patented Solyte® midsole material to give you much needed lightweight cushioning and a swifter response on the court. Like previous Asic’s Gel-Solution Speeds, thus has a good feel in the chassis and midsoles.
It also has a low to the ground ride and is light on the foot. This update features a redesign on the uppers. They now have a full TPU wrap around. Overall, it has a stable, supportive and locked-in fit.
Features and Benefits
Rearfoot and forefoot GEL cushioning systems diminish shock during impact and toe-off phases. This also allows for free movement in many different planes as the foot makes its way through the gait cycle.
The P-Guard toe protector enhances the durability of the toes. The proprietary Flexion Fit Upper provides form-fitting comfort but does not sacrifice support.
- The shoe’s fit is very stable and supportive.
- The traction is great.
- The fit is very smooth and even.
- Overall, the shoe feels very fast and light.
- It is not as breathable as it could be.
- It is also a little on the narrow side.
2. New Balance Tennis Shoe (Men’s Mc806 / Women’s Wc806)
This is very most likely the most famous shoe in New Balance history. This is a no-nonsense shoe made with serious athletes in mind. Everything in this shoe is with the purpose of stability and comfort in mind. It is a shoe that will get the job done and see you through hundreds of sets.
This shoe thoroughly illustrates New Balance’s dedication to helping athletes meet their goals and be their very best. This is a good example of a shoe made to fit rather than to simply fit an image.
Features and Benefits
Perforations in the toe box make the shoe breathable. Patented ABZORB cushioning makes for a comfortable fit. The C-CAP midsole is non-marking. The herringbone outsole allows for increased traction which is good for both pivoting and lateral motion.
- The toe box is sufficiently roomy.
- The tongue is long and the loop lacing system, which adds up to a shoe that not only fits well but is adjustable.
- The toe is reinforced.
- It has firm support and good stability.
- The insert is removable.
- Not a lot of color options here. (At least white goes with everything.)
- It could use more cushioning.
- The insole needs work.
- The sole is not durable enough.
3. Adidas Performance Barricade Tennis Shoe (Men / Women)
These women’s tennis shoes are constructed with a purpose in mind to deliver a level of superior performance in high demand from professional athletes. They provide the wearer with a seamless upper that bends naturally with your foot plus Geofit padding for a very comfortable fit.
The Barricade chassis increases stability in the midfoot where it is needed most. This provides full support for every twist, turn and lunge a tennis player might come up with on the court. This brand from Adidas has performance in mind and performance in the name.
Features and Benefits
The seamless Forgedmesh upper is designed to have areas of stretch and support in order to aid in ensuring a custom fit that modifies itself to your every movement. The soft and stretchable tongue makes for a comfortable fit. The Bootee construction makes for a snug fit.
The Adiprene+ in the forefoot keeps up propulsion and efficiency. The abrasion-resistant Adituff wraps securely around the toe and medial forefoot in order to aid in guarding against foot drag that occurs during volleys serves and drastic lateral movements.
- Durability is by far the best feature of this shoe.
- While this shoe is suitable for people with wide feet, people with narrow feet shouldn’t have a problem with finding a good fit in this series.
- It has the three main qualities a tennis shoe must-have; traction, support, and stability.
- It is a little on the heavy side and not as comfortable as it could be.
- It may take a while to break in.
4. Nike Zoom Vapor 9.5 Tour Tennis Shoes (Men / Women)
Don’t you just love that name? “Zoom Vapor” sounds quick and light, like something that will move fast, leaving naught but dissipating smoke in its wake. Indeed, these are shoes that are lightweight yet hardy enough to play a rough game of tennis in.
They have the traction, speed, and lightness of an ideal running shoe but they also provide the lateral support expected from high-quality tennis shoes. Nike, named for the winged goddess of victory, has long been associated with basketball and running but can also bring the wearer victory on the tennis court.
Features and Benefits
The Dynamic Fit system wraps securely about your midfoot from the arch to the top. The herringbone outsole pattern has a good and thick tread in high-wear areas which will provide multi-surface traction.
The XDR (extra-durable rubber) compound on the heel and forefoot intensifies durability. The TPU frame and midfoot shank bring additional stability to the table. The Nike Zoom unit in the heel provides cushioning and impact protection.
- It is available in ten different color choices.
- The fit is light and true to size.
- The lateral support is good.
- The shoe is comfortable yet strong and durable.
- While lightweight, the shoe has sufficient ankle support.
- The fit could be snugger and the tongue tends to move around.
- The sole is not as long-lasting as the rest of the shoe.
5. Babolat Propulse Fury All Court Tennis Shoe (Men / Women)
Babolat has gone back to their drawing board and came back with tennis shoes designed to be even more comfortable and durable than their previous wares. the Propulse Fury was developed for the high demands of today’s high impact game, focusing on improving stability.
The one of a kind in-sock completely wraps securely about the foot and due to the integrated lacing system, which utilizes Babolat’s Powerbelt straps to tighten and keep up stability varying on the player’s foot and preferences.
The shoe’s Ortholite insole and Kompressor heel cushioning provide superior shock absorption. Michelin and Babolat have teamed up to forge an innovative and more rugged rubber outsole that can stand up to the forceful movements in modern tennis.
Features and Benefits
The higher collar, shoe construction and patented Powerbelt all make the wearer’s foot feel both comfortable and supported. The Ortholite insole plus Kompressor heel cushioning provides great shock absorption. The innovative Michelin rubber offers the best of durability and traction.
- Babolat has greatly improved in making comfortable shoes.
- The shoe is durable, able to withstand shocks, stops, and starts.
- It is also sufficiently stable.
- They provide an easy low to the ground ride and have that lateral stability every tennis player looks for.
- There is some slippage in the heel.
- They could also stand to be a little lighter.
Will Having Flat Feet Influence Your Performance on the Tennis Court?
There are many different treatments and means such as appropriate footwear that can ameliorate the problem of flat feet. However, there are quite a few possible drawbacks that can occur if you neglect to take any precautions.
A good thirty percent of the world’s population has flat feet. An affliction such as this can cause problems in any game of tennis. One of these is pain that may prove very intense in many conditions.
The five most common ailments that accompany flat feet are:
One of the most common concerns faced by flat-footed tennis players is pronation. This is the normal curvature of the foot at the end of every step. It aids in absorbing impact to the feet. In cases where the person has flat feet, this would result in over-pronation, which goes far beyond the needed point and results in minor or even extreme pain. Should over-pronation occur, it means that your ankle joints are extended.
This inevitably results in the rotation of lower and upper leg bones inwards. As a result of this, it can add stress which can be the cause of pain to your ankles, lower leg muscles, knee joints, and even your hips. You might even become more liable to shin splints, back problems and tendonitis in your knees as tennis does involve a lot of running back and forth on the court.
Some Good News for People with Flat Feet
There was a time when it was believed there was no hope for athletic achievement for people for flat feet. Flat feet were even a common 4F restriction from the armed services. A study involving 218 children between the ages of eleven and fifteen showed no statistically significant difference in athletic performance between children with low to no arch or children with regular to high arch.
They could jump, hop and walk on tiptoe just as well as anyone else. The balance was not off. The reaction time, speed and strength of flat-footed children were all perfectly on par with everyone else in their peer group. It is apparent that it isn’t the shoes but the person in the shoes. Even the feet inside the shoes makes little difference.
However, while flat-footed people are just as competent at athletics as anyone else, they seem to be more prone to injury, though this requires further study. Low to no arched runners have a tendency towards knee pain, patellar tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis. The arches are natural shock absorbers for the human body.
They are capable of distributing a force of up to one hundred and fifty percent of a person’s body weight as they walk or run. In a person who doesn’t have a well-defined arch, this can result in pain and injury.
In fact, this could affect not only the feet but the entire lower body. Footwear for people with flat feet may not necessarily improve performance but it may do an even more practical job of preventing injuries.
The shoemakers are doing what they can to help people with flat feet and other foot ailments who still want to live an active lifestyle. In very recent years a number of athletes have been able to rely on shoe design technology to aid them in overcoming much of the trouble caused by their flat feet.
Spearheaded by such well-known brands like Nike, Adidas and Reebok many athletic shoe manufacturers today are producing sneakers that provide a plethora of features that are able to assist flat-footed athletes.
Such things include built-in extra shock absorbers, (which would compensate for what the player’s natural foot is not capable of) stabilizing features that help out in the balance area as well as prevent overpronation and extra padding to offer additional foot relief plus even more energy return with every step.
How Flat Feet Happens
Everyone is born with flat feet. Usually, the arch develops as the child learns to stand and walk unassisted and the tendons gradually begin to pull together. And sometimes, Nature deals a bad hand in the genetics department. Other people might find that their arches “fall’ as they get older, the result is flat feet.
This can be due to age and muscle weakening. Sometimes it may be because of injuries to the tendons and muscles of the feet. In children, a condition known as a tarsal coalition can lead to flat feet. This condition happens when two or more of the bones in the foot become fused together.
Tarsal coalition may limit mobility and lead to the acquisition of flat feet. A broken bone, nerve damage, rheumatoid arthritis or torn tendons can also lead to flattening of the feet.
In a normal foot, an arch sees to it that weight is evenly distributed on the foot. With a flat foot, you get excessive pronation. This means the weight shifts toward the inside of the sole. There are stretching and strengthening exercises that can aid in attenuating the rigidness of a person’s flat feet.
A patient may also elect to have surgery to correct such a condition. However, this fix is not recommended for growing children and adolescents. Even adults may want to go over this with a doctor. For the most part, though, flat feet does not require any medical treatment.
Flat feet can often lead to pain in the ankles and lower legs. Flat-footed athletes who take part in sports that call for a lot of running may feel pain over the bottom of the feet. This pain can lead to severe discomfort in the knees and legs and the person may well limp after strenuous activity.
Sports that call for standing for a long period of time such as baseball and volleyball can be the cause of pain with flat feet as well. However, with proper precautions, this pain can be avoided.
Those who have flat feet find that they have greatly restricted movement in their feet. This scarcity of mobility can make it difficult to find an athletic shoe that fits properly. Flat feet often make the inside of a shoe break down. In athletic shoes leads this can lead to insufficient support.
Special shoes and inserts can aid in alleviating pain and meet footwear needs for athletics. Orthotics, as an example, can aid in relieving stress on your feet. They offer support, better shock absorption and redistribute the pressure on the foot more evenly.
Early Development Of The Tennis Shoe
Rubber was recognized as being the best material for tennis shoes as early as the late 18th Century. (The game itself dates back to medieval times. Shakespeare even mentions it in Henry V.) Originally, these “plimsolls” were designed for the tars of the British Navy. They were water-resistant and had good traction for slippery decks.
Tennis players soon put them to the test. The rubber doesn’t mark up the court. It also puts a little spring into the player’s step, allowing them to start and stop quickly. Notice also that the only sounds you’ll hear during a match are the bounce of the ball and occasional grunting from the players. That’s because rubber absorbs sound along with the shock.
Still, there was marked room for improvement as these proto-sneakers were not the most comfortable. Nor were they designed with any thought for performance or movement. A British tar, after all, is ever ready for a knock-down blow but an unexpected drop shot is something else entirely.
It was in the Nineties that U.S. Rubber Company put together rubber and canvas to make the first Keds. In the Roaring Twenties, Chuck Taylor became the first athlete to endorse a brand of shoes, specifically Converse All Stars. By the Fab Fifties, tennis shoes became not just athletic wear but a fashion statement.
It was in the Swinging Sixties that different shoe companies started their own innovations to come up with new and effective ways to create the perfect athletic shoe. The Awesome Eighties were in full gear when Nike added more to the evolution of the tennis shoe with lateral support that lifted the heel a bit higher than the average running shoe.
Women’s Tennis Shoes History
Would it surprise you to know that women’s tennis shoes once had heels? In the 1880s, ladies played lawn tennis not only in heeled boots but full-length bustle gowns as well. Before the Twentieth century, many people were concerned about women taking part in “masculine” activities such as sports. By the 1920s, women’s tennis shoes resembled off-white Mary Janes with a chunky one-inch heel and toes that were more fashionable than functional.
The next decade brought the heel down to a more sensible Oxford length. There were also more color options available with a saddle shoe pattern being most popular. Rubber replaced the formerly leather soles. Then World War II happened. Women were taking men’s places not only in the factories but in the sports field. Athletic shoes became even more practical.
The Fifties and the influence of women in tennis greatly transformed the tennis shoe further into something designed for functionality. Lacoste promised “performance and comfort with elegance”. If you have flat feet, comfort may feel like a fleeting thing. But you can have that along with performance! And, yes, you can even have some elegance so you can look good doing it!
Flat feet is a more common condition than some people would think. It should not preclude someone from taking part in sports. In fact, a flat-footed athlete can excel in their sport of choice should they choose to. Tennis shoes have come a long way since being cast-offs from British sailors.
Far more innovations for tennis shoes will most definitely be coming in the future. For now, just look for something that gives you both comfort and security. Hopefully, one of the five shoes reviewed above will be just the shoe you are looking for.