Now the tennis season is well underway, with the Women’s US Open starting, many people will be inspired to take to the tennis courts.
With its aerobic and weight-bearing elements, tennis can really help with weight-loss and general fitness. However, as with many sports, you have to be mindful as to what the body is being required to do, especially if the rest of the time you’re not very active, perhaps spending hours sitting at a desk.
Common Tennis Injuries
- Tennis Elbow – causing pain in the outer side of the forearm – mainly just below the elbow due to damage to the tendon of the forearm muscles. With its major cause involving repetitive movements of the arm often involving twisting, it is important not only to get the technique right with your tennis strokes to avoid too much overuse of the elbow but also to use the right racket for you, in terms of grip size and string tension.
- Shoulder Pain – The tendons around the shoulder can be susceptible to wear-and-tear and result in pain when overstrained with repetitive use. The service action is a particular challenge to the joint.
- Pulled Muscles – Usually affecting the legs, especially the hamstring (at the back of the thigh) and the calf muscles. These can already be tighter than normal if they are compensating for issues in areas such as the low back, hip and ankles. A sudden movement can then cause damage to the fibres.
- Low Back Pain – Again, an awkward movement can strain joints in the low back. Also, with age, the discs between the vertebrae can wear and lose their ability to shock-absorb, so repetitive pounding around a tennis court can cause excessive jarring to the joints and result in discomfort and stiffness.
So, whether you just enjoy an occasional social game or play competitively, it’s very important to prepare yourself physically to minimise any chance of injury.
How to Avoid Tennis Injuries?
- Doing some stretching beforehand will help to prevent any strains.
- Ideally, this should involve not only your legs (hamstrings, quads and calves) but also your shoulders and back.
- Always give yourself enough time to do this properly.
- Don’t delay replacing your tennis shoes if the grip starts to wear, to avoid the chance of slipping on wet courts.
Playing Tennis with Existing Injuries?
If you do have any ongoing niggles, for example, a stiff neck or troublesome knee, your body will try and compensate for any lack of movement or avoid any pain, which may then lead to other problems. It would be advisable to have these checked out by a professional to reduce their impact BEFORE you do too much.
For help with any existing mechanical issues, advice on exercises and treatment of any injuries acquired whilst enjoying this sport, contact our osteopaths at the Good Health Centre.