What are COMMON tennis injuries & CAN Physiotherapy HELP?
Tennis is a global sport that can be played across any age group and any skill level. It is reported that over 200 countries participate in tennis and are affiliated with the International Tennis Federation.
The most common type of injuries that occur in tennis tend to be acute, over a chronic presentation.
If it is an acute injury, it is more likely to be in the lower limb, a chronic condition is more often seen in the upper limb. And unfortunately, as we age the risk of injury steadily increases.
We've all watched the Australian Open in Jan and seen how hard, and how long, the players throw themselves around the court for hours on end in stinking hot temperatures. Tennis is very demanding on the body and having a specific tennis physiotherapist can help keep you on the court.
These injuries are often due to overload and or poor conditioning of the stabilising rotator cuff muscles.
If the stabilising muscles are overloaded and not working optimally, it can cause the head of the humerus to shift and cause irritation. This can cause pain with arm movements especially with serving and backhand.
Treatment usually requires strengthening of the rotator cuff muscles as well as improving technique to offload painful structures.
Strengthening regimes have been shown to have far superior outcomes when compared to simple stretching regimes.
If you consider that most shoulder issues are either from the ball (humeral head) moving just that bit too much in the socket (glenoid), or a jamming of tendon and/or bursa, due to reduced "muscle coordination", then if you can increase your ability to control the ball in the socket, you will decrease your pain, and chance of further shoulder injury. Not only this, strengthening gives you more power!
PHYSIOTHERAPY TREATMENT FOR TENNIS ELBOW
Surprisingly, despite the name, not many regular tennis players get tennis elbow.
It is usually a condition that arises in people when they are learning how to play tennis, or they have played before, though not recently.
Its this change in loading of the elbow extensor tends that causes microtears to the tendon, resulting in pain.
If you play tennis regularly, and consistently, you'll go a long way to help yourself from developing tennis elbow.
If you are subject to a case of tennis elbow, physiotherapy treatment for tennis elbow is very effective. This involves a case of offloading the tendon, with some modified rest, then reloading and strengthening the elbow tendons, in particularly adding some plyometric exercises into the program.
In the short term, when seeing a physio for tennis elbow, soft tissue massage, stretching and dry needling may give some short term relief, though exercise is needed to solidify long term gains in the physiotherapy treatment of tennis elbow.
This is often because tennis requires short sharp movements with quick acceleration causing the muscle fibres to be activated strongly and quickly.
A thorough dynamic warm up prior to training and matches as well as an ongoing strengthening program can decrease the risk of this type of injury.
Proper rehabilitation following a muscle strain will help get you back to tennis quicker and in better condition than no rehabilitation at all.
It is important that your rehabilitation involves you getting stronger muscles, but that you also train them at a tennis specific speed.
There's no point in doing slow tasks in the gym or at home, and expecting that to transfer to the speedier motions on court. You need to rehab to the exact demands of your sport.
Acute Ankle Injuries from tennis
Again, these are seen because of the short sharp movements that are required in tennis.
Ankle injuries are common in tennis with change of direction but can also happen in the training scenario while stepping on a ball.
Once you have sprained your ankle it is more likely to happen again and so it is important to complete proper rehabilitation to reduce risk of re-injury. Some studies show the risk of re-rolling your ankle is increased for 6 months post any ankle sprain. This is why you see some people tape or wear an ASO brace for such a long period after an injury.
Treatment will be aimed improving your ankle range of motion and improving your strength and balance to return it to it’s previous state. Again, you need to work on tennis specific movements, not just slow gym weights. Be fussy with your rehab!
Skin Issues and Blisters for Tennis
Something that you may not have considered as a very common tennis is injury to the skin- blisters!
These aren't as common for local players, but at the elite level, where they are hitting hundreds of balls per day, blisters can be a real challenge and extremely debilitating. Players have had to forfeit matches for hand and foot blisters in the past.
Like most things, blister prevention is better than the cure! Changing socks between sets, keeping on top of any callouses and wearing appropriate fitting shoes goes a long way.
Tennis physiotherapists have specific blister taping and offloading techniques to get players on court, though sometimes in extreme situations there's nothing that can be done apart from rest.
If you do have a nasty blister from tennis, please get it seen to ASAP, so you can keep yourself on court. We are able to show you taping techniques that you can do yourself to keep yourself as comfortable as possible on court.
If you have suffered a tennis related injury, or need your pain fixed so that you can get back on the court, please contact any of our clinics, or book online.