Despite being more commonly played as a summer sport, many people still enjoy playing tennis through the winter season either leisurely or competitively. While being a great activity to improve health and fitness, tennis can also result in many different types of joint and muscle injuries if proper care isn’t taken to prevent them.
Playing tennis can cause the following common injuries. Even the best of the best like players in the Australian Open can be affected by these injuries:
- lateral epicondylitis – most commonly referred to as “tennis elbow”, this injury is caused by an overuse of the muscles that control the extension or bending backwards of the wrist. The tendons joining these muscles to the forearm become inflamed and can cause pain or burning on the outside of the elbow and weak grip strength.
- Shoulder overuse injuries can include tearing of the rotator cuffs (the muscles and tendons that stabilise the shoulder joint in its socket) which can cause pain, tenderness, weakness in the shoulder and difficulty lifting the arm. The most common cause of rotator cuff tears is repetitive movements, for example, practicing overhead serves and this activity will often cause pain when injured.
- Stress fractures can occur when training is increased too rapidly for the muscles to gain the necessary strength and endurance to undertake the activity often and at high intensity. When the muscles tire, stress is placed on the bone causing it to “break” – these very small cracks tend to cause pain rather than actual displacement of the bone. In tennis, stress fractures more commonly occur in the leg and feet, or the lower back.
- Sprains – ankle sprains can be particularly prevalent in tennis due to the fast pace of the game combined with the constant, quick changes in direction, with the ankle often stretching or twisting in sudden sideways movement.
- Knee ligament injuries – as similar to ankle sprains, knee injuries can occur often with the sudden changes in direction while playing tennis. The ligaments in the knee can be torn with the stress imposed upon the knee.
- Patellar Tendonitis – most commonly referred to as “jumper’s knee” occurs when the patellar tendon (the tendon that attaches the kneecap to the shinbone and supports our weight when walking and jumping) is put under significant stress when doing repetitive jumping movements, a big component of tennis. Symptoms include swelling and inflammation of the knee, pain and feeling hot to the touch.
There are steps that can be taken to prevent injury. These include:
- Warming up and cooling down extensively, including stretching
- Use the correct equipment – wearing proper tennis shoes alleviates stress on the knees and ankles and can prevent sprains. It is best to ask for professional opinion when buying tennis shoes. Also ensure you have the correct grip and racquet size/ tension for your body and ability
- Practice correct technique – especially if you’re a newcomer to tennis, it is important to enlist professional help in gaining correct technique for playing tennis, particularly with serving, to prevent putting unnecessary strain on other muscles and joints
- Take rest days! Tennis is a high impact activity and playing and training for several consecutive days can put you at much higher risk of sustaining an injury
If you do sustain an injury during tennis, or any other activity, our chiropractors, massage therapsits and occupational therapistst at Body Mind Central offer a variety of skill treatemtns to get you back to better health! These include chiropractic services, massage therapy and occupational therapy avaialble in or purpose build centre on Norton st in Leichhadt. Call us on 9518 0096 to book your appointment, or book online now!