The injury risk in tennis is relatively low compared to other sports and can be further reduced if players are aware of the common injuries and precautions taken to avoid them.
These are the most common injuries in tennis with instructions on how to prevent them.
1. Shoulder Injuries
Tennis players shoulders are more prone to injuries than any other part of the body due to the repetitive and high-impact strokes that cause a heavy amount of stress on the shoulders.
When over used, the tendons of the rotator cuff, consisting of muscles and tendons at the upper-arm and shoulder blade, may be inflamed, developing tendinitis.
This produces pain with overhead motions such as serving or even raising your arms.
Shoulder overuse injuries are usually due to poor conditioning and strength of the rotator cuff muscles. Hence, it is important to have strengthening exercises to prevent this from happening.
2. Tennis Elbow
The tennis elbow is the inflammation of the tendons that join the forearm muscles on the outer part of the elbow. These forearm muscles are linked to the extension of the wrist and fingers. It is also the muscle most frequently used when the tennis ball contacts the racquet.
- Mastering the right technique for your tennis shots.
- Proper strengthening through exercise which will increase the strength and stability in your forearm muscles and tendons.
- Equipment check! Make sure the string tension you play with suits your game and the gripsize of the racquet is a proper fit. A grip that is either too little or too big, will make you press the grip more to hold on to the racquet, causing unnecessary stress on your forearm musles and promotes the risk of a tennis elbow.
For those who have a history of similar injuries, it will be good to wear a tennis elbow compression strap as a form of prevention.
3. Wrist Injuries
Wrist injuries in tennis players are, unfortunately, very common and can result from a single traumatic event or from chronic repetitive motions. Juan Martin Del Potro won the 2009 US Open only to miss most of the 2010 season due to a wrist injury.
A common mistake by beginners is the over using of the wrist. When executing a shot, allow your wrist to whip forward naturally without any effort on your part. The power of the stroke should be from the upper-arm and the body rotational movement.
4. Ankle Injuries
Ankle injuries are common in tennis due to the frequent sideway movements causing the ankle to twist. A twisted ankle may damage the ligaments and soft tissues near the ankle resulting in a sprain.
Prevention: One way to prevent ankle injuries is to apply an ankle brace. Multiple professional tennis players use them, for example Andy Murray and Jannik Sinner.
The ankle brace seems to be proven for tennis players with ankle problems. A research showed the following……
The injury incidence in people with taped ankles was 4.9 ankle sprains per 1,000 participant matches, compared with 2.6 ankle sprains per 1000 participant matches in students wearing ankle braces. This compared with 32.8 ankle sprains per 1,000 participant matches in subjects that had no taping or bracing.”
5. Patellar Tendonitis (aka Jumper´s Knee)
Jumping, in particular, can put excessive strain on this tendon, and repetitive jumping, which is often a part of tennis, can cause small tears which lead to injury to the patellar tendon. Patellar tendonitis can cause pain and swelling, and the affected area can feel warm to the touch. Jumping, kneeling, and walking up and down stairs can increase the pain.
6. Back Injuries
Tennis requires a lot of different movements from the back. Constant rotations, flexions and extensions of the back during matches. Both forehand and backhand shots require twisting of the spine, while serves hyper-extend the lower back, compressing lumbar discs. The stress isn’t just on the spine, though. Back muscles have to support sudden movements that often start and stop quickly in all directions.
Some serve techniques also require less of a back arch, reducing pressure on the spine and surrounding muscles. Throughout play, make sure you keep your knees bent, and hold in the abdominal muscles to protect the lower back.
- Strengthening of the back muscles
- Stretching of the back musles
- You might want to try a stiffer racquet. A raquet that is more stiff, doesn´t require you to rotate your body so much asa flexible racquet because of the more easy power you will get out of a more heavy and stiffer racquet.
7. Overuse injuries
The majority of injuries in tennis are due to overuse. The importance of taking frequent breaks should not be overlooked. The freedom to plan breaks is one of the benefits of playing leisurely, so do put that to your advantage as its always better to be safe than sorry.
Top overall tips to prevent injuries on the tenniscourt
1. Make sure you have the right gear.
Choose a tennis shoe with good support to help you prevent ankle injuries. You can also wear two pairs of socks or get tennis socks, which have extra padding, to help support your ankles. Make sure your racquet has the correct grip size and string tension to reduce stress on your elbow and shoulder. You should also pay attention to the size and weight of your racquet based on your needs and ability. A professional can help you to choose the right racquet and ofcourse we also how articles on how to choose the right racquet for your game.
2. Pay attention to your technique.
Try working with a coach who can help you improve your technique.
3. Warm up, cool down and do strength exercises.
A good warmup before a game can help to lessen your chance of injury and improve your game. Strengthening exercises can also help to prevent injuries.
4. Take breaks.
You may think that you need to practice as much as possible to improve your game, but playing too much can make you break yourself. Your body needs time to recover between practices and matches, and overexertion can affect how well you play and make you more susceptible to injury.
Keep these tips in mind, and you will not only lower your risk of injury. Enjoy the game!