Summer’s Serve of Tennis Injuries: Do You Need to See a TENNIS Physio?
There is always an exciting buzz around Melbourne at this time of year as the Australian Open hits town.
All eyes turn to Melbourne Park as the best tennis athletes of the world come to slog it out in the heat to try and get their hands on that grand slam title.
At the same time many of us pick up a tennis racquet and have a hit, although usually with more modest ambitions…
Every year we see some of our favourite players go down with injuries: sprained ankles, hip issues (Andy Murray comes to mind here), shoulder problems and knee injuries to name a few.
But how good are we at looking after ourselves when we are out on the court
How Can We Help Common Tennis Injuries at Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy?
Tennis is one of those sports that sometimes looks relatively easy on TV, though once you pick up a racquet and start playing yourself, you realise how strong, powerful and skilful the pros really are.
Being on court for 4-5 hours in one stint is impressive, though to back it up, day in and day out, in often sweltering conditions shows how fit these athletes really are. Players will sometimes loose between 3-4 kgs of weight per match, mainly driven by fluid loss.
With so many moving human body parts on the tennis court, it's easy to understand why we see both upper and lower limb injuries in the clinic, plus spinal twinges and sprains.
A study that looked at recreational tennis players over 6 months, with an average age of 49 years, found that over 50% of them got injured!
If this sounds like you, seeing one of our physiotherapists can help you get back on the court as soon as possible.
Common Tennis Injuries
Whilst you do see people tumble onto their wrists, trip on a stray tennis ball and injure their ankle, or pinch their shoulder tendons from an overzealous serve or single handed backhand, the majority of tennis injuries are not the result of a specific incident in which something was sprained, strained, pulled, twisted or broken.
It is the niggling, persistent injuries that develop over time that are the main culprit – these are known as overuse injuries and are the reason for over 80% of tennis injuries.
The game of tennis requires you to swing, land, jump and sprint repetitively, putting a lot of strain on the muscles and joints of your body.
As a result, overuse injuries often develop with the shoulder and elbow being the most common.
Lateral Epicondylalgia (Tennis Elbow):
Rightfully named Tennis Elbow, this injury is probably the most well known of all tennis related injuries.
It is caused by irritation and often micro-tearing of the forearm tendons that insert onto the outside of the elbow and bring about pain and discomfort in this area.
These tendons have a major role in gripping and extending the wrist and the repetitive nature of these actions in tennis can lead to injury.
It has previously been described to be an inflammatory issue, though recent research is showing that tennis elbow injuries should be correctly called ' wrist extensor tendinopathies' and are in reality a mismatch between the loads going through the tendons and the capacity of how much load the tendon can absorb.
If the tennis stroke places more load upon the tendon, which exceeds the actual tendon's capacity, that is when an injury can occur and pain can develop.
The good news is that the sports medicine fraternity is much better at treating these tennis elbow conditions now, compared to 10-20 years ago, as we understand that a strengthening program to increase the tendon's capacity and strength are pivotal in achieving a great outcome.
Cortisone injections used to be first line treatment, though have fallen out of favour, due to being only a short term option for most people, and just settling tennis elbow symptoms, only for them to return without a person going through the appropriate strengthening regime.
Most commonly, these injuries are often the result of training error, rather than any glaring deficits in someone's techniques.
Other Tennis Injuries
Joint sprains and muscles strains are also common in tennis, due to the demanding nature of the sport. These injuries typically cause an immediate sharp pain at the time of injury.
Of the joint sprains, the ankle sprain or rolled ankle is most common and usually results in pain on the outside of the joint. Muscle strains also occur to the upper and lower body, and are most common in the calf muscle.
Key Injury Prevention Tips for Tennis Injuries: How to Prevent Common Tennis Injuries with Physiotherapy!
Ease into it!
Remember the majority of tennis injuries occur due to overuse.
Our muscles and tendons do not like doing a whole lot of something new in a short space of time. If you are returning to tennis, space out how often you play or practice to give your body time to adapt.
Remember, the human body doesn't like rapid changes in loading ( in particular tendons and bones), so gradually increase what you're doing and you'll have a lot less chance of irritating something.
Get fit, stay fit, and get stronger!
We know tennis is a physically demanding sport, so what are you doing outside tennis to prepare body?
Having a base level of fitness and strengh helps minimise your chance of an overuse injury. Getting stronger with weights via the gym, or using body weight via home program can greatly increase your load capacity, in turn making it more difficult to become injured.
Always start with a good warm up.
Your muscles and joints need to be properly prepped to be on their A-Game.
Make sure you incorporate a warm up with flexibility and mobility exercises combined with some gentle cardio to get the heart rate up.
If you have sustained an injury from playing tennis or are just keen on a targeted, individualised injury prevention program book in with one of our Physiotherapists today!
Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy
Melbourne Sports Physio has a range of qualified and experienced professionals who can help provide ongoing support and treatment. Our friendly team are located in across Melbourne in Essendon and Blackburn South, and appointments can be made by calling or booking online.