With Wimbledon tennis around the corner, you might be dusting off your tennis racket ahead of the new season. Before you get stuck in, take a moment to read up on the most common tennis injuries and how to prevent them.
Many tennis injuries are caused by repetitive use, sudden movements and a lack of muscle strength. Like any sport, if you’re new to it or you’ve had a break over winter, it’s important to prepare and build up your game gradually.
We treat people for sports injuries in Twickenham, including tennis pros, newbies, and everyone in between.
Common tennis injuries
This happens when the elbow muscles that straighten your wrist become overloaded, irritated, inflamed or in more extreme cases torn. In tennis, this is often caused by overuse, especially if you’re training too hard, have poor backhand technique or you’re using the wrong racket size or grip.
- Training — if you’re a novice, work with a trainer for advice on what kind of racket to use and the correct grip for serving and returning
- Strengthen your muscles — weight training can help build strength in your arms so they can tolerate the force of movement without injury
- Warm-up — stretching and warming up for 5 to 10 minutes before training or a game allows the muscles to prepare for the greater intensity required in a match.
A lot of stress and strain is placed on your shoulder during tennis, particularly when serving due to the high force and speed required. Impingement-type injuries to the rotator cuff and bursa (fluid-filled sacs in your shoulder joint) can occur if the strength around the shoulder is not balanced and maintained and this may lead to more serious long-term injuries such as rotator cuff tears.
- Build strength — building muscle strength in the shoulder will help it withstand sudden movements and force
- Exercise — combine strength training with cardio exercise to help you stay in shape and boost your body’s overall endurance
- Try to have optimal upper back posture to avoid hunching and rounding the shoulders, which can increase the likelihood of developing shoulder pain
Repetitive movements including jumping and bending can put strain on the tendon that attaches your thigh muscles (quads) to your shinbone. This can cause tendon irritation (tendonitis or tendinopathy) or inflammation of the bursa below the kneecap resulting in pain, commonly known as jumper’s knee. A hard surface such as a tennis court can increase the risk of this type of injury.
- Strengthen your quads — the quad muscles on the front of your thighs control your knee movements; strengthening them with squats, lunges and/or leg raises will help keep your knee stable
- Stretching — warming up and stretching before you start playing is an effective way of preventing jumper’s knee; include stretches for your hamstrings, quads and calf muscles
- Wear appropriate footwear to ensure you have some cushioning for a hard surface and the correct stability to allow you to twist and turn with confidence.
Sports such as tennis involve a lot of rapid acceleration and deceleration forces, as well as rapid changes of direction. This puts the ankle at risk of sprains.
The greatest risk factor associated with ankle sprains is having had a previous ankle sprain. Protecting the ankle is, therefore, important to help reduce the likelihood of further injury.
- If you have had an ankle sprain within the last few months it is important to wear a suitable ankle brace to help protect the ankle when twisting and turning on court
- Practise balance exercises at the gym on wobble boards or try balancing on one foot while waiting in queues or when brushing your teeth
- Maintain good ankle strength with simple calf raises or walking in the house on tip toes at times
- Make sure your footwear is suitable for the court you’re playing on so you can grip the surface and you have sufficient stability to cope with the demands of the game.
If you’re heading to the tennis court this summer, it’s important to take your time and prepare your body.
If you think you may have sustained a tennis-related injury or you’d like more advice on strengthening exercises, give us a call on 0208 898 1213 to see how we can help.
Remember, for individual training and rehabilitation advice, you should have an assessment by a professional.