Injuries - Clay Court vs. Hard Court.

jchamilt

Rookie
As a little background I have been playing tennis for over 55 years and have been ranked in every USTA section I played in and am currently nationally ranked. I am sure we have all heard that clay courts are better to play on than hard courts due to fewer injuries. In one sense when I play on clay courts I do not feel quite as sore when I am finished, but I have experienced more injuries on clay than hard. For example due to longer matches I have had to stop due to cramps and have fallen down more leading to more scraps and pain. One could say that I am not in shape and that lead to cramps and that I have fallen down since I am not use to playing on clay. I will agree with the possibility of the second, but not the first. My experience is that clay court matches go longer and thus it put a premium on conditioning, but what about all clay court players? I am wondering if cramps, scraps and pain are counted when comparing clay court and hard court injuries? Also when I look at tournament draws I sense that if anything there are more withdrawals due to injuries in clay court tournaments than hard court tournaments. Would that be a good comparison? Does anyone have any hard numbers on this or comments on the injury potential of clay vs hard courts?
 

dcottrill

Rookie
Personally, I find playing on clay much easier on my creaky old joints. I can play almost twice as long on clay as I can on hard courts. As far as falling, I agree that I tend to fall more on clay, but that is probably because I tend to be more "adventurous" in my attempts to reach shots on clay. Plus, falling on clay results in simply dusting myself off and continuing with the match. Falling on a hard court can ruin my day.
 

chess9

Hall of Fame
As a little background I have been playing tennis for over 55 years and have been ranked in every USTA section I played in and am currently nationally ranked. I am sure we have all heard that clay courts are better to play on than hard courts due to fewer injuries. In one sense when I play on clay courts I do not feel quite as sore when I am finished, but I have experienced more injuries on clay than hard. For example due to longer matches I have had to stop due to cramps and have fallen down more leading to more scraps and pain. One could say that I am not in shape and that lead to cramps and that I have fallen down since I am not use to playing on clay. I will agree with the possibility of the second, but not the first. My experience is that clay court matches go longer and thus it put a premium on conditioning, but what about all clay court players? I am wondering if cramps, scraps and pain are counted when comparing clay court and hard court injuries? Also when I look at tournament draws I sense that if anything there are more withdrawals due to injuries in clay court tournaments than hard court tournaments. Would that be a good comparison? Does anyone have any hard numbers on this or comments on the injury potential of clay vs hard courts?
All of my injuries, except one, have been on hard courts. The one soft court injury was caused by two falls in two separate matches in which I landed on the point of my right elbow, getting some olecranon bursitis, which has now subsided. I will reflexively dive for balls, which I shouldn't do at my age. :)

My guess, based upon my experience, would be that soft courts are a much better surface for older players, despite the footing issues.

For playing on soft courts, I'd make three recommendations:

1. Use STABILITY shoes, not the cushiony comfy sort I use on hard courts. (I have 9 pairs of tennis shoes.)
2. Know your limits. If you are not a knee bender, then chasing off after a deep soft court ball could be a disaster. Most older guys are not knee benders, IMHO.
3. Balance plays a greater role than fitness, IMHO, but they are both important. I cycle, lift, and run, in addition to playing tennis. I'd say the cycling and lifting (squats, deads, lunges in particular) have helped keep me healthy. If your gluteus medias is weak, as it is in most older tennis players, your knees are at risk. If you can squat all the way down on one leg, with your weight on your heel, and come back up, then you are very strong and balanced and don't need the lifting. :) I can go down to 90 degrees and back up on one leg.

Just my humble opinion, but my words have forked no lightning.

-Robert
 
J

Julieta

Guest
I was told once to make sure to have one pair of shoes strictly for hard courts and one for clay courts.
 
I have more troubles with clay courts than hard. I tend to get more blisters on the bottom of my feet and my ankle is usually very sore afterwards. I don't have these problems at all on a hard court. I always find it very odd that I hurt way more coming off a clay court than I do a hard court (even if the match was very short).
 

chess9

Hall of Fame
I have more troubles with clay courts than hard. I tend to get more blisters on the bottom of my feet and my ankle is usually very sore afterwards. I don't have these problems at all on a hard court. I always find it very odd that I hurt way more coming off a clay court than I do a hard court (even if the match was very short).
Do you use the same shoes on both courts?

-Robert
 

waves2ya

Rookie
When I queried a famous dr. about this (downside to surgeries) the reply was:

Soft courts - I see pelvic, back problems.
Hard courts - knees and shoulders.

When discussing tennis & injury in general: "Better the othropod than the cardiologist".
 

xnarek

Rookie
When I queried a famous dr. about this (downside to surgeries) the reply was:

Soft courts - I see pelvic, back problems.
Hard courts - knees and shoulders.

When discussing tennis & injury in general: "Better the othropod than the cardiologist".
I dont think i have ever gotten an injury due to Hard courts, but then again 90% of the time i play on clay.

Oh thats right, i have really gotten a back problem, since i play on clay that makes sense.
And i just started to play tournaments, and i got a shoulder injury.( almost all of the tournament matches i've played were on hard courts)

I have more troubles with clay courts than hard. I tend to get more blisters on the bottom of my feet and my ankle is usually very sore afterwards. I don't have these problems at all on a hard court. I always find it very odd that I hurt way more coming off a clay court than I do a hard court (even if the match was very short).
It might be you're shoe, or some kind of genes :eek:, or you got used to hard courts. I think in all my life i have gotten a blister on my feet only once. The ankle problem i agree with, i always have to stretch my ankle after practice or a match because it is really sore.
 
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thundaga

Rookie
i think what surface you predominately play on will influence how your body reacts. i play 90% of my tennis of surfaces i can slide on, and when i do play on hardcourt i focus on modifying my footwork accordingly.
 

BNK

Rookie
i think what surface you predominately play on will influence how your body reacts. i play 90% of my tennis of surfaces i can slide on, and when i do play on hardcourt i focus on modifying my footwork accordingly.
True, Ive been playing on Syn grass/clay 95% of the time and when I practice on hard courts, I could sometimes feel more pressure on my knees. I also need to change my footwork because I NEVER want to slide on hardcourts
 

shamaho

Semi-Pro
What makes a good clay court shoe?
What is a good clay court shoe and why is it better for clay than hard court?
A clay court specific shoe (any) will prove itself over the all-court shoe in the ability to get great traction but also the ability to slide, oh and the "damage" done to the court itself is much lower than what the all-court's produce.

You can use all-court shoes in clay (as I have done for ages) but depending on the sole design, you'll either get too much traction and creation of lots little holes in the clay court (due to dragging and breaking), or no traction at all and you tend to fall down quite a bit. It depends very much on the sole design and how you move in them.

With the clay court specific shoe, you can so easily produce just the right amount of traction or slide at will, and very little damage to the courts.

I only recently started playing with clay court specific shoes and the experience was similar to playing with natural gut instead of say... nylon or a stiff poly. I just could not believe all my wasted time or lost quality with all-court shoes in clay.
 

hray4clay

Rookie
I have more troubles with clay courts than hard. I tend to get more blisters on the bottom of my feet and my ankle is usually very sore afterwards. I don't have these problems at all on a hard court. I always find it very odd that I hurt way more coming off a clay court than I do a hard court (even if the match was very short).
Very, very strange and unusual, indeed.
 

Fintft

Hall of Fame
Most if not all injuries and wear and tear happened to me on the hard courts (where I can also move aggressively and that greatly increases the stress on my joints as I'm very heavy).

On clay I use the best clay court shoes(the ones with the ...deepest thread lol) Asiscs Gel Resolution 6 (5 were better though) and I don't slide...
My power game is better suited for hard courts though, also b/c of the true bounce.
 

Dartagnan64

Legend
I'm a total clay court convert. Can't believe how much better I feel the next morning after playing on clay. If I play too much on hard courts, hips, kness and back all hurt for at least 24-48 hrs. I can play back to back days on clay no problem.
 

Curious

Legend
I thought clay court was much safer. I read a news article yesterday saying Federer is taking a big risk playing clay court season this year, raising the question 'will his aging body withstand the demands of the dirt?' as it's more taxing on the body. So clay court is taxing on the body but safer for the body. Does it mean it's harder to move but still better for the joints due to 'slidability'? Can someone explain?
 

norcal

Hall of Fame
I think at the pro level you just have to grind through such longer points on clay it will 1. exhaust/drain his body, 2.the more tired you are in a longer match the more susceptible you are to injury.

IIRC ATP's drug testing is/was not good at catching EPO users and that was a common drug used by claycourters to recover faster after long points and increase endurance, a winning formula for clay. You can understand why Fed has little interest in playing on that surface anymore.
 
I thought clay court was much safer. I read a news article yesterday saying Federer is taking a big risk playing clay court season this year, raising the question 'will his aging body withstand the demands of the dirt?' as it's more taxing on the body. So clay court is taxing on the body but safer for the body. Does it mean it's harder to move but still better for the joints due to 'slidability'? Can someone explain?
Don't worry about pros, they are playing a different sport than us.
Clay is absolutely safer on hard deceleration
 

Dartagnan64

Legend
I thought clay court was much safer. I read a news article yesterday saying Federer is taking a big risk playing clay court season this year, raising the question 'will his aging body withstand the demands of the dirt?' as it's more taxing on the body. So clay court is taxing on the body but safer for the body. Does it mean it's harder to move but still better for the joints due to 'slidability'? Can someone explain?
It comes down to the adverse effects of long points/matches vs the adverse effects of hard stops. I think for most rec players the latter outweighs the former. For pros the issue may be different.
 
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