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Feet Protection

Paul Ness© ATPATP World Tour physiotherapist Paul Ness says that one quarter of all players apply tape to their feet before matches.

“Will I keep this [toenail] when I stop playing tennis,” Tommy Robredo asks ATP physiotherapist Paul Ness as he prepares his feet for battle in the training room at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami. “You should. But this one I’m not so sure about,” replies Ness, surveying the toll that Robredo's 10-year career has exacted on his feet. Preparing for a doubles semi-final, Robredo is sitting on a training bench having his toes and the balls of his feet taped, just as he does before all matches – and practices – when he plays on hard courts.
 
Neither Robredo nor his fellow ATP World Tour pros are going to land any lucrative feet modeling contracts when their playing days are done. Tennis is inherently tough on the feet – and the results aren’t pretty. But with feet being arguably a player’s most important asset, proper care and management are essential to a player’s success on the ATP World Tour. Chew up your feet and you’re in for a world of pain, an agonising day on court and possibly more serious consequences down the road. That is why, among many players’ pre-match routines, a visit to an ATP physiotherapist like Ness is as automatic as gripping a racquet.

Compeed

At least one quarter of all ATP World Tour players undergo preventative feet taping before a match, most adding tape to toes and the ball of the foot. The old adage that ‘prevention is better than cure’ certainly rings true. New or improperly-fitted shoes, a player’s game style, humidity and court surface all affect the likelihood of a player running into feet problems.

“A lot depends on the type of game they play,” Ness says. “The ones who are light on their feet don’t have many problems. The guys who are heavy on their feet and run hard will be the ones to come in for padding or to cover up a blister or protect a toe nail.  With some guys their second toe is longer than their first toe and it bangs into the end of the shoe. Pivoting on one foot can also lead to calluses.

“Hard court, with its stop-start, twist and pivot requirements, is generally tougher on feet. Wet socks in humid conditions cause the skin to become softer, which can lead to huge blisters - and you can’t always prevent those. I once saw a player ooze sweat out of his shoe because he had sweated so much. So he changed socks and shoes.”

Knowing that it’s not possible to prevent all blisters, ATP physiotherapists carry a full range of COMPEED® products, including the new plaster designed specifically for underfoot blisters. That product, launched in 2010 as the world’s first underfoot-specific plaster,  is particularly useful for players who do a lot of pivoting and develop blisters under the ball of the foot. COMPEED®’s medium-sized plaster is also often used for blisters that develop on the heels. 

“COMPEED®’s products are like a second skin; when you put it on it feels fantastic,” Ness says. “Players like the material because it’s very comfortable, it takes the sting out of a blister very fast and the wound heals up nice and quick.”

By retaining moisture in the wound and preventing scab formation, COMPEED® products create the optimal healing environment that promotes the skin’s own healing mechanisms, gives immediate pain relief and accelerates healing. COMPEED® plasters are covered by a waterproof and breathable semi-permeable polyurethane that repels water, dirt and bacteria and enables excess wound fluid evaporation, just as skin does.

COMPEED® plasters use patented beveled edges so they stay in place (even in the shower) so they can be worn for several days. And they loosen automatically as the wound heals.

That’s great news for all tennis lovers, from the club player all the way to Robredo and friends at the pinnacle of the sport. 

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