Tennis is a great form of exercise, requiring full body participation and good hand-eye coordination.
Despite the benefits of tennis, it puts a lot of strain on the body through repetitive movements, leading to various injuries through overuse and lack of conditioning of the muscles.
However, injuries can be avoided through proper technique and training routines.
Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is often caused by over use of the wrist extensor muscles through improper backhand technique and poor body positioning.
To avoid tennis elbow, it is important to select the correct racquet and maintain a good grip size. High string tension and smaller racquets can lead to tennis elbow as the forearm muscles need to exert more force. The grip should be a good size and can be determined by measuring the distance from the crease of your palm to the tip of the ring finger.
Tennis elbow is treated by rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). The condition can become chronic but can be treated by decreasing playing time, tennis elbow supports, and rehabilitation through constant repetition of simple exercises, increasing in difficulty as strength increases.
However, if these methods of treatment do not work, injection therapy may be considered or referral for an orthopaedic surgeon's review.
To prevent wrist strain it is important to keep a good grip position, with the racquet forming an 'L' position with the forearm.
Rotator cuff injury
The rotator cuff is made up of muscles and tendons linking the shoulder blade to the humerus, enabling the shoulder to move in many different directions. Overuse of these muscles and tendons can lead to micro-damage within the tendons or small tears.
Rotator cuff injuries are often caused by excessive overhead serving, which occurs if you hold your arm at a 90 degree angle from your side whilst serving. If the angle is increased to ideally 135 degrees, your chance of rotator cuff injury is greatly reduced.
This injury is treated with rest, ice, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. If symptoms continue after a week of treatment or when you return to playing, it is important to see a therapist and modify your technique to help prevent recurrence.
Although back injuries are very common in all sports, they can be common in tennis due to hard ground or volume of training/playing. The exaggerated arched posture for service strokes causes stress to the small joints and soft tissues of the spine, and is the cause of back pain. Strengthening the abdominal and back muscles can minimise back pain and increase flexibility.
Knee pain is common in tennis players, particularly front knee pain, due to either the softening of the cartilage of the patella, or tendinitis. Treatment for this involves the RICE method and then a progressive rehabilitation plan to start loading the tissue to return to sport.
Some people use braces on ankles and knees for the feeling of comfort and support. If you are unsure if this is appropriate for you please discuss with your Physiotherapist.
Risk of ankle sprains can be minimised by wearing appropriate shoes designed specifically for tennis that provide substantial support for the foot. The RICE method is used for 24 to 36 hours to treat ankle sprains, with an appropriate rehabilitation after the injury to make sure that the ankle returns to its pre-injured level and reduces any long term effects.
All injuries should be treated by a trained, registered professional. UCLan Physiotherapy Clinic can help if you are struggling with an injury or recurring pain. The Clinic is run by professionally registered physiotherapists and sports therapists and we is recognised by all major private health companies.
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