Tennis is known as a “lifelong” sport because it can be enjoyed by most anyone regardless of age or athletic ability. But, what happens when aches, pains, and injury keep you from enjoying the game for the long haul?
This is just what happened to me. The love of the game took me through my childhood, high school, and into my college years. However, chronic wrist weakness and injury caused me to finally throw in the towel.
And as much as I love hitting the ball around with my children, I have avoided anything more strenuous or competitive. . . .until now.
I know that the cardiovascular, balance, motor control, coordination, bone strength, and flexibility benefits would serve me in the coming years more than ever. Are you interested in seeing these benefits too?
If so, let's get back to playing tennis (or take up the game for the first time) without the common injuries that derail many players. So, let's discuss the most common injuries we see in the clinic and what we can do to prevent them.
1. Tennis Elbow
The most well-known injury in tennis is even named after the sport - tennis elbow. Technically, it is lateral epicondylitis which refers to inflammation of the tendons joint the forearm muscles to the outside of the elbow.
The symptoms include pain on the outside of the elbow, a weak grip, and forearm tenderness. Proper stretching can go a long way in preventing this overuse injury.
2. Carpal tunnel syndrome
Racquet sports put a lot of strain on the wrists. The repetitive motion can lead to inflammation and damage to the small nerves and tendons here.
When the medial nerve of the wrist is compressed it can cause both pain in the wrist and numbness in the fingers. Having the right size grip on your racquet can keep you from over gripping and decrease strain.
3. Rotator Cuff Tendinitis
The rotator cuff muscles hold the shoulder in its socket. When they are fatigued or weak from the repetitive swinging of the racquet can cause inflammation and pain. The discomfort is usually worse with overhead movements such as serving.
Often times correcting the technique of your swing can decrease pain and prevent this overuse injury. A trainer, therapist, or coach can help you do this.
4. Back Pain
The twisting and turning involved in a game of tennis can take a toll on your back. This is especially true if you spend most of the rest of your week sitting at a desk.
The key to preventing back pain while playing tennis is strengthening the core or stomach muscles. This helps support the back muscles, protect the spine and aid in keeping a healthy posture while on the move.
5. Hamstring Strain
The hamstring muscles run along the back of your thigh and a sharp pain here during a game indicates a pull or a tear. This usually occurs in tennis when bending, lunging, or extending to get to a ball.
Tight hamstrings are very common and a tight muscle doesn't respond well to quick movements. Proper stretching and warm up to improve flexibility helps prevent injury.
6. Jumper’s Knee
The patellar tendon attaches the kneecap to the shin bone. It can become inflamed and painful particularly with jumping activities. The pain will likely increase with kneeling, jumping or walking stairs.
Keeping the muscles strong around the knee can help protect the joint and lessen the impact of repetitive jumping.
7. Ankle Sprains
An ankle sprain occurs when the joint twists or rolls causing damage to the ligaments. This is common in tennis due to the side to side movement and quick changes of direction.
A sprain results in pain, swelling, and stiffness that often requires some rehab to fully recover from because the joint is now unstable. Prevention is key and comes in the form of strengthening the ankle with balance and agility drills.
The common thread in preventing these injuries is improving strength and flexibility, warming up properly, and having good technique. Work toward improving these things and you will not only lower your risk of injury but also improve your game.
If you start to have pain or swelling in any of these areas during your training, get it checked out immediately. In fact, one of our Specialist Sports Therapists may even be able to set you on the right course over the phone.
Sometimes a simple tweak can change the game . . . so request a Free Phone Consultation by clicking the link below.