Tennis is a popular summertime sport that’s enjoyed worldwide. It requires hand-eye coordination and complete body participation. Tennis injuries can occur due to the physical demands placed on the body. The best way to prevent injury is to train properly, use the right technique, have appropriate equipment, and seek medical attention to address injuries.
Find out how to identify and treat common tennis injuries, while still getting a good workout.
1. Tennis elbow is also known as Lateral Epicondylitis. This refers to inflammation of the tendons connecting the forearm muscles and the outside of your elbow. Similar to golfer’s elbow, this condition occurs on the outside of your elbow. Tennis elbow can be caused by overuse of the elbow. It is more common in athletes who play tennis or other racquet sports. It can cause pain and burning around the elbows, as well as weak grip strength. Forearm activity may make the symptoms worse.
- It is important to rest the elbow in order to reduce inflammation and pain along with taking non-steroidal inflammatory medicine.
- Elbow elastic supports can help to reduce the elbow’s workload.
- Use the correct grip size and string tension in order to reduce strain on your elbow, shoulder and neck.
- Your needs and abilities will determine the size and weight of your racquet that is correct for you. You can have a professional help you choose the right racquet.
2. Rotator Cuff Tears
The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles and tendons. They work together to stabilize and move the shoulder. Overuse can cause the rotator to tear slowly, or it can be the result of acute injury. A rotator cuff injury can cause pain, tenderness, weakness, and difficulty lifting the arm. It can also lead to snapping or crackling sounds while moving the shoulder.
- At first, physical therapy is the best non-surgical option. These treatments are focused on building strength and muscle.
- You can discuss with your doctor the possibility of cortisone injections to reduce inflammation and pain but it is not typically the first remedy we recommend.
- If the nonsurgical treatment fails, surgery is an option. Talk to a doctor in sports medicine about this option.
3. Stress Fractures/Back Pain
Because tennis serves require hyperextension (bending the spine), side-bending, and rotation of your trunk, stress fractures are common injuries. This motion can cause damage to the vertebrae at the lower back. Spondylolisthesis is a condition where the vertebrae shift forward. Although stress fractures aren’t always painful, they can cause pain in the lower back and become worse as you become more active.
Stress fractures can also be affected by the surface you play on. The impact of hard tennis courts on the body is much greater. You are more likely to sustain stress fractures if you land on hard courts. Clay and grass courts are more flexible, which decreases stress on the body.
- Back pain can be reduced by a conditioning program that focuses on strengthening the core muscles and surrounding back muscles. A treatment program should include exercises that increase flexibility in the lower and upper bodies.
- Warm up Before playing
- Other low-impact activities will help reduce the possibility of stress fractures.
4. Tennis Knee: Patellar Tendonitis (or Jumper’s Knee)
The patellar tendon connects the kneecap to your shinbone. It aids in movement and supports our weight when we walk and jump. Tennis players are known to put a lot of stress on their knees from jumping and landing repeatedly during the game. Tennis knee, or Jumper’s Knee, can be caused by landing on particularly rough surfaces such as concrete or hard courts. The affected area may feel warm and can cause pain or swelling.
- Use the R.I.C.E principle to reduce inflammation and pain in the knee (rest, ice, compression, elevation)
- Light stretching and a knee-strengthening program will ease your symptoms.
5. Ankle strains
Tennis players are more likely to sustain ankle sprains due to its multi-directional nature. Running and jumping can also increase the risk of your ankle turning if you are prone to landing wrong. An ankle sprain can be more common in clay courts. Clay courts are softer than other types of courts, so your ankle tends to be more vulnerable to injury. An ankle sprain may cause swelling, pain, stiffness, or discomfort. An ankle that is unstable often leads to bruising as well.
- Wearing supportive footwear and ankle supports may reduce the chance of a sprain.
- When playing tennis, avoid uneven surfaces
- Use the R.I.C.E principle within 24-48 hours of injury to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Strengthen your muscles around your ankles, hips, and knees. This will improve balance and reduce the likelihood of you getting injured again.
Talk to an athletic trainer or a physical therapist about the best exercises, stretches and treatments that can help you reduce injury and keep your feet on the court.
Professional Physical Therapy is available to help you or your family members with any of these injuries. You can expect a personalized recovery plan using the most up-to-date technology and practices. Pro+Kinetix physical therapy is a place to visit if you would like to speak with one of our highly skilled therapists.