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Form & Fitness: Beating Blisters

Nadal© Getty ImagesATP World Tour trainer Clay Sniteman attends to Rafael Nadal's foot at the US Open.

If there is one thing every ATP World Tour player wants to avoid, it’s blisters on his feet. Though they’re small in size, these little guys can turn into major enemies if not treated properly...

With all the running, sliding and rapid directional changes tennis players perform during training and matches, it’s no surprise that blister prevention and management are often top of mind. Some players go as far as replacing their socks and shoes during matches.

“When it comes to the hard-court season players have to deal with a lot of heat and humidity, like in Cincinnati and Washington D.C. It’s there that you’ll find players changing their footwear more often, as they may feel like they’re sliding in their shoes or that they are encountering increased friction," says Clay Sniteman, ATP World Tour physiotherapist. “Blisters can be caused by a shear force and a lack of calluses on the foot itself.”

Players are encouraged to take care of their feet themselves, and a number have added feet care management to their pre-match routines. “A lot of Top 20 players will prepare their feet before they go out for their matches to help with blister prevention,” Sniteman says. “They put blister plasters or padding under their feet, but many will wait until the hard-court season to apply this type of taping technique.”


Treat Blisters Early
Should players ignore their blisters, there are serious risks. If a player gets a blister and compensates by putting pressure on other areas, thus changing the way he’s walking or running, other parts of his body will be affected, starting with the ankle and knee and, potentially, the back. “This risks a further injury as you’re changing the mechanics of your foot, which consequently changes the mechanics of your knee and the rest of the food chain,” cautions Sniteman. “It’s very important to address the problem early.”

One way to tackle blisters is by using a COMPEED© plaster, which can be applied to a specific area on the foot, small or large. “This provides a barrier between the shoe and/or sock, and the skin,” says Sniteman.

“The great thing with COMPEED’s product, unlike other brands, is that it can be kept on for up to five days after applying it. By not having to re-dress the area you’re isolating, the skin tissue is able to heal. You can shower with it, you can play with it and when you take it off, usually, there’s no blister left.”

Sniteman believes club players can apply the methods tour professionals use to treat and prevent blisters. “Recreational players will get blisters easily as they aren’t playing as often and have fewer calluses. Therefore taping is important for the average tennis player to include.”

- COMPEED is an official supplier of the ATP.

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