Everyone’s doing it – but beware! The wrong shoes can bring a whole lot of pain, says Nelfrie Kemp.
I set off to explore the new craze of padel recently after the increase in lower limb injuries I saw in my practice obtained on the padel court. Just have to add that all the good stories, fun and laughter with old and new friends far outweighs the injuries. So why the injuries?
One of the biggest causes is the shoes.
Padel requires sudden swift rotations with turning, stopping, moving and jumping. It’s played on an artificial turf which is additionally covered with a fine quartz/silicone sand, and this sand allows for greater grip and more effective control of the ball along with prevention of injuries and slips. It is for these reasons that proper padel shoes are highly recommended.
Why can’t you use your running shoes?
Running shoes have either too little or too much grip (trail shoes) which can damage the court or cause you to slide too much. The sole is also too flexible and the midsole too thick and soft, while the upper is not supportive enough, thus it will allow too much movement of the foot inside the shoe which will lead to instability and can result in twisting your foot, ankle or knee.
Can I use a squash shoe or tennis shoe?
Squash and tennis are played on a completely different surface to padel – which is the main reason why you should use shoes specific for padel. The grooves on a tennis shoe are not deep enough. Clay court tennis shoes – with the herringbone pattern on the sole – work well, but if you have to buy a shoe rather opt for a padel shoe.
Your running, tennis or squash shoes won’t last too long on a padel court.
So what features should I look for in a padel shoe?
Padel shoes have a stiffer sole to allow for rotation and a softer upper to provide increased flexibility. They also have more cushioning on the heel and toecap, and protection around the heel due to the abrasive nature of the turf and sand.
Your padel shoes should be flexible over the ball of the foot, although still have a stiffer outer sole and provide ankle support.
Find a shoe that takes on the shape of your feet, and make sure it is one size bigger than your normal shoe size. It is best to take the innersoles out of the shoes when trying them on, and stand with both feet on the innersoles, heels aligned at the back. The innersoles should take on the shape of your feet and there should be a thumbs width between the tip of your longest toe and the front of the sole.
Padel shoes need to be replaced every 120 to 160 hours of playtime. It’s also very important to tie and untie your laces every time you put your shoes on and take them off – the laces will secure your feet in the shoes and prevent them from slipping and sliding inside the shoes.
Common padel injuries I have seen include: Damaged toenails, especially the big toe; heel pain; Achilles tendonitis; ankle sprains; and knee injuries.