Tennis is one of the most popular racket sports in the world. Players flock to the sport in the professional ranks, and even more so in the local and regional competitive tournaments and leagues around the country.
Many people will never even play a single tournament though and just play for fun. But whether you're a seasoned professional or just a weekend tennis player, injuries can occur. These injuries can sideline any tennis player and if not treated can even take you off the court for good.
Professionals, and juniors hoping to rise through the professional ranks, most often have to worry about overuse injuries. Non-competitive players can injure themselves by using improper form or by having inadequate training or technique knowledge.
While injuries can occur, the good news is that they can be prevented too with some basic changes to training routines and tennis techniques.
Listed below are three tennis injuries and how you can avoid getting them in the first place:
1) Tennis elbow
This is the injury that is most often associated with the sport, though the majority of people who suffer from it do not play tennis. It actually is an injury to the tendons in the elbow, and it happens when the muscles that bend the wrist backwards are overused. Plumbers, painters, and carpenters can get tennis elbow too.
Since this is the muscle that is most used when the tennis ball hits the racquet, it makes sense that this part of the body would get a lot of use -- or overuse. To avoid suffering from tennis elbow, players should strengthen these muscles and those around it.
A good warm-up routine and using proper grip techniques will help prevent tennis elbow as well. Rest and over-the-counter pain medication can help resolve most tennis elbow issues over time.
2) Shoulder injuries
When a tennis player hurts his or her shoulder, it is typically due to poor conditioning and fatigue of the rotator cuff muscles. When the rotator cuff is weak, the shoulder may not be property positioned in the shoulder socket. This can irritate the tissues of the shoulder, and the tendon can become painful and inflamed.
The simple solution is to strengthen the muscles surrounding the rotator cuff. Flexing and extending your wrist while using an exercise band can reduce shoulder pain and lessen the chance of further injury.
3) Stress fractures.
Tiny cracks in the bone of the leg or the foot are called stress fractures. They are more common in junior tennis players. While 20 percent of juniors suffer from stress fractures, only 7.5 percent of professional players have them.
Stress fractures occur when players increase their training too quickly. Fatigued muscles means more stress is put on the bone which may not be able to handle this additional burden and literally breaks under pressure.
Stress fractures can be prevented by using the right footwear and by making sure the players have appropriate strength and conditioning training before they get into extended tennis playing.
The key to staying healthy while enjoying the sport of tennis is to have proper training beforehand. Knowing the correct techniques, both on the court and in the weight room, can be imperative to staying injury-free.
While nothing is 100 percent safe, tennis is a game of probabilities, and the probability of injury goes down with the proper knowledge and guidance.
Remember to seek the care of a doctor if you develop any injury symptoms that do not resolve after giving yourself a break from playing.
Stopsportsinjuries.com. Web. 9 July 2014. “Tennis injury prevention”. http://www.stopsportsinjuries.org/tennis-injury-prevention.aspx#common
Mayoclinic.org. Web. 9 July 2014. “Tennis elbow”. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tennis-elbow/basics/definition/con-20043041
Reviewed July 10, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN