Foot Boost: A Training and Treatment Tool for Feet

Published: 2011-10-18 10:34:11
Author: Richard Pagliaro

Shrill squeals of squeaking sneakers marked the sudden stops and starts of Andy Murray and David Ferrer during Sunday’s Shanghai final and served as a sonic reminder of Stefan Edberg’s adage that “tennis is a game of legs.”

Movement is so essential to upward mobility in the ATP rankings it’s hardly surprising the world’s top five players—Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Murray, Roger Federer and Ferrer—are all known for quick court coverage and finely-tuned footwork.

Coaches and racquet customizers’ commonly video tape players’ swings to provide stroke analysis and remodel racquets to suit players’ swing paths, but can technology aid foot health and footwork?

One coach is using sensor technology embedded inside tennis shoes and corresponding video analysis of a player's movements on court to gain a better understanding of how the feet perform during play. Dr. Allan Grossman, a USPTA coach and podiatrist specializing in treating tennis players at the Harrisburg Foot and Ankle Center in Harrisburg, PA, embeds a sheet fitted with thousands of sensors that pinpoint pressure points inside tennis shoes. The battery-powered device connects to a cuff wrapped around the athlete's ankle to measure pressures on the feet during activity and transmit the data, using Wi-Fi, to a laptop computer, where both doctor and athlete can see exactly where pressure points arise during on-court movement.

His findings have been surprising.