‘If the shoe fits…’ – ‘Badminton Magazine’ April 2003 Issue

Thank you for the responses to my last article.  I have tried to answer your emails personally but please accept my apologies if I didn’t get back to you.

Many of you asked where you can find your local osteopath.  The General Osteopathic Council can give you details of osteopaths in your area.  The GOsC can be telephoned on 020 7357 6655 or you can visit their website, (www.osteopathy.org.uk).

Mr James Heasman from Worthing contacted me regarding his ankle.  Some time ago, whilst on court, he had the misfortune of rupturing his Achilles tendon and enquired as to his next, best course of action with regard returning to competitive badminton matches now that the tendon has been surgically repaired.

Achilles was a Greek hero. He was the son of the Sun Goddess Thetis.  In his childhood he was dipped in the River Styx by his mother to make him invulnerable, except for the heel by which she held him. This gave rise to the term ‘heel of Achilles’ which can be any point of weakness.  Achilles died when leading the Greeks to the storming of Troy. He was shot by an arrow which struck his vulnerable heel and killed him…………..so, now you know!

The Achilles tendon remains a vulnerable point in ALL of us.  Ironically, Mr Heasman’s surgically repaired tendon is probably stronger now than it ever was; however, the following advice is relevant to us all.

The tendon is a dense, muscular structure that needs to be looked after.  It needs to be ‘warmed up’ by simple stretching before each game is played.  If the Achilles tendon shows signs of trouble, (e.g. pain on movement, swelling or increased redness or bruising), it needs to be rested IMMEDIATELY and simple ‘first aid’ measures (such as the application of a cold compress) need to be performed.

Almost as important as the ‘preparation’ of the Achilles tendon is the choice of footwear that we compete in.  A Formula 1 car needs top class contact with the tarmac to win races and you do to.  Mr Schumacher et al don’t pop to the local Kwik-Fit for a cheap set of ‘remoulds’ on their way to Monaco and, similarly, you should not play in the shoes that you wore during a tennis match last week!

Badminton shoes are designed for the purpose – the clue is in the title!  They are lighter, have narrower soles and provide good ‘transitional’ grip.  Other shoes are just the opposite.  If you wear a heavier shoe, with a wider sole, your ‘turning circle’ will be comparable to an oil tanker and any attempt to challenge this might lead to a visit to your local surgeon for an operation similar to Mr Heasman’s.  And, don’t get me started on the knee!  Improper footwear and knee injuries go together better than ‘Richard & Judy’, but the after-effects are far more unpleasant.

My final point returns, once again, to preparation.  Badminton is an indoor game.  Badminton shoes are for indoor use only.   If you wear the shoes you play in outside you get the soles dirty (not to mention the court).  The sole of a badminton shoe is designed to be kept clean for maximum grip.  If the soles are full of dirt and dust (or grass!) then you will be playing badminton whilst wearing a light, slippery soled shoe and, to be perfectly honest, you might as well try and play in ice skates!

Thankfully, badminton shoes are inexpensive – and there is something very ‘professional’ about arriving courtside and changing your footwear.  The impression it gives will earn you the first five points as your opponents will think that you are a professional/Emmelda Marcos/have read this article (delete as appropriate).

You have been warned!


‘Warm up, not knock up’ – ‘Badminton Magazine’ January 2003 Issue

We have all done it at some point….meeting runs late, quick sandwich in the car on the way to a tiny village just outside Maidstone (with an even smaller village hall!).  Change into sports clothes in the back of the car and burst through the creaky wooden door to aforementioned hall to find your doubles partner signalling your lateness by tapping their watch in between ‘knocking-up’ on court.  Not bad, really – only ten minutes late, grab your racket from the bag, few practice serves and ‘love all’.  Sounds familiar?  The details might be slightly different but the end result is the same.

So, as you move gracefully to execute your first devastating ‘smash’, what will your body be doing?  Struggling!  Your heart rate will be fine; the pressured journey from work to court would have released enough adrenalin to see to that.  The main struggle will be with the increased activity that your body has now been asked to undertake.

Suddenly, all the major muscle groups of the body have been asked to spring into action.  Your thigh muscles suddenly need more blood than they have had all day and your upper body needs, not only the strength, control and power to strike the shuttle, but also the guidance and balancing properties of the inactive arm.

Inevitably, your first few ‘glory’ shots hit the net, or worse, your partner.  That is if you are lucky!  The majority of badminton players that I consult professionally are injured and when questioned regarding their pre-game preparation almost all of them report that they spend a few minutes knocking-up before a game.  My response is always the same: ‘knocking-up is not warming-up!’

If I was perfectly honest, the majority of the injured players that I see could have prevented their ‘minor’ injuries by warming-up properly and this starts as early as the morning before the game.  We should take light meals at regular intervals and drink plenty of water (avoiding tea, coffee and alcohol which are diuretics).  Well fuelled, hydrated cells perform much better than dehydrated ones.  We should manage our diaries so that we can be at the match venue at least twenty minutes before the match begins.  This time should be spent performing simple stretches, especially concentrating on the arms, chest, lower back, thighs and calves.  Stretching helps increase the blood flow and ‘drainage’ of muscles and prepares the fibres by elongating them.

We are now able to play some practice shots before the game commences.  This should be a structured routine of short play, clears and overhead shots, not a quick ‘knock’ whilst discussing Eastenders!  When the game starts you can rely on the fact that your musculoskeletal system is well prepared for the task in hand. With any luck, your first ‘smash’ will be a turning point in the game and your partner will not have any scars to show for their labours.

In future issues of ‘Badminton’ I would like to answer any questions that you might have.  Please feel free to email me and I will endeavour to answer as many as I can in next month’s edition.