How to reduce common tennis injuries
Tennis injuries can be quite common if the body has not adapted to the sport. Tennis can be played on all sorts of surfaces and is a high impact sport so puts a lot of pressure on the body.
It is also a very one-sided sport which can cause tension around joints that are very important for efficient movement. Tennis requires an adequate amount of conditioning which includes power, speed, coordination, balance, agility, and endurance. Tennis players must strive to train these components to stay injury free.
Causes and types of injuries
Lower limb injuries such as thigh strains, knee and ankle sprains are the most common and are caused by the sudden stopping, sprinting and pivoting required by tennis. These types of injuries are more acute however, tennis players can often get chronic knee tendon pain (patella tendonitis).
Upper limb injuries involve the wrist, elbow and shoulder. They are caused by high-velocity and repetitive arm movements so are more often overuse injuries. Wrist sprains, tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), shoulder impingement and rotator cuff strain can occur in tennis.
Back pain and strains are common in tennis due to the amount of rotation that is needed to hit the ball in a serve or a groundstroke.
Why do these injuries occur?
- Poor conditioning e.g. poor balance and coordination could lead to more ankle and knee sprains due to being unable to change direction suddenly and land from a jump softly. Lack of strength could result in thigh and back strains.
- Different court surface e.g. your body needs to adapt to play on different surfaces. It is more challenging to play on clay and hard courts than it is to play on grass. Research shows an increase in injury rates on hard courts and clay courts than grass courts.
- Playing technique e.g. a tennis coach can guide and teach you correct techniques for serving.
- Biomechanics e.g. if you have rounded shoulders and go to serve in tennis, you are more likely compensate by side bending at the trunk and spine due to the lack of mobility in the shoulder blade.
- Weather conditions e.g. slippery surfaces due to rain or hot conditions that can cause dehydration can lead to a risk of injury. If the body has an insufficient amount of energy, it will fatigue.
- Condition of tennis balls used e.g. if the balls are too soft, the tennis player will often have to hit the ball harder and therefore can put undue stress on the shoulder.
- Inappropriate footwear e.g. if shoes have not got the traction and have worn down, they will be less supportive and can cause a fall or two. Ensuring the shoes fit properly and are comfortable is important too.
- Poor injury rehabilitation e.g. missing parts of rehabilitation can increase risk of an old injury flaring up again.
What to do next
- Warm up and cool down efficiently
- For acute injuries check out the METHOD to use – http://thecambridgesportsinjuryclinicguide.blogspot.co.uk/
- Get your body assessed by a Biomechanics coach – http://sportscorrectivetherapy.co.uk/biomechanics-coaching/
- Hire a tennis coach if you believe it is a technique issue
- Avoid playing tennis with a re-occurring injury or if you have an injury or pain. Go and see a sports therapist – http://sportscorrectivetherapy.co.uk/injury-rehabilitation/
Maintain a good fitness level and if not doing so, begin a conditioning program that trains the body accordingly to tennis and its movements e.g. rotational lunges in different directions, footwork exercises to help with jumping and landing, ball throwing, shuttle sprints, single leg stability drills to help with balance. Here are a few exercises that will help with tennis injuries:
If you would like a FREE tennis conditioning program, please get in touch and we can work with you to improve your movement and function.