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Tennis Injury Prevention: How To Avoid Common Tennis Injuries?


tennis knee

Introduction


Tennis as a sport requires multi-directional physical movements and quick patterns that can result in a variety of injuries to different muscle groups. As a result, tennis players must be cautious of these injuries and follow certain injury prevention tips beforehand. These tips will not just save you from injuries but will also increase the success and longevity of your tennis-playing career. 


Before we move forward to learning the different tennis injury prevention tips, let’s have a look at the most common types of tennis injuries.


Most Common Tennis Injuries


There are a number of tennis injuries that you can get based on different factors. The factors include the frequency of your playing, the style, movements, or pattern of your physical activity, the equipment you use as well as the surface you play on.


There are some of the most common types of tennis injuries you can incur. Let's have a look at them.


Tennis Elbow injuries


One of the most common types of tennis injuries suffered by the players is the tennis elbow. With the scientific name of lateral epicondylitis, tennis elbow is an uncomfortable condition under which there can be swelling on the tendons on the outside of your elbow. The inflammation, in turn, causes a great deal of pain when the tennis ball hits it.


Tennis elbow is a condition similar to the golfer's elbow. Under a Golfer's elbow, you can develop inflammation on the inside of your arm rather than the outside. What's quite unique here is that it is not necessary that you get a tennis elbow just from playing tennis. It can even develop when you engage in other activities like excessive typing, writing, painting, gardening etc., or even when you engage in other sports like badminton or squash.


Now let's understand the science behind this injury in tennis. Engaging in tennis or any of the activities mentioned above leads to a chain reaction that results in the inflammation of the tendon around the elbow area. Once you start playing tennis again, this exaggerates the repetitive strain and leads to pain in the elbow.


The symptoms of this injury typically include extreme tenderness or a mild sensation when you swing your tennis racket or even when the area gets in contact with the ball. In extreme cases, the pain can spread down to your forearm thus, weakening your grip and strength.


Wrist Injuries


There are 3 major types of wrist injuries that you can incur while playing tennis. These are:

  1. Tendon Injuries: Tendon injuries refer to the inflammation known as tendonitis or even the overuse known as tendinopathy on either the inner or outer tendons of your wrist.

  2. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: This is a type of injury that occurs when a nerve in your wrist gets squeezed or pinched while playing. As a result, it causes a tingling sensation and numbness in your wrist which weakens your grip

  3. Wrist Sprain: This refers to the tearing or stretching of a ligament in your wrist that can be extremely painful.


Any injury to your wrist will weaken your grip and strength to hold the tennis racket.


Knee injuries 


Injuries to your lower body become common due to sudden movements and fast sprints. There are different types of knee injuries:

  1. Meniscus injuries: As the name itself suggests, this type of injury refers to the wearing down or tearing of the meniscus (cartilage) in your knee.

  2. Ligament injuries: This type of injury occurs when the ligament in your knee gets sprained or torn. This could be any ligament like the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

  3. Patellar tendonitis (Jumper’s knee): The patellar tendon connects the knee cap to your shin bone and any inflammation or injury to it results in a jumper’s knee.


Apart from the above-mentioned injuries, strenuous movements and patterns in tennis can also lead to strained muscles in the calf, which will be explained later in this article.


Rotator Cuff Injury


The rotator cuff includes four muscles along with the tendons that help to rotate your shoulder and provide stability to it. The major cause behind rotator cuff tear is when you overuse it by swinging your tennis racket very frequently. This injury can either be immediate or happen gradually over time. 

In case your injury is not so severe, then you can treat it at home with rest, elevation, and even ice compressions. However, if it is severe then you may have to consult a physical therapist. In both cases, make sure you do not resume playing tennis till you have pain.


To help prevent it, include a number of stretching and strengthening exercises in your workout regimen that can prevent overuse injuries, shoulder injuries, and common injuries & build shoulder resilience and flexibility. You can even include these exercises as part of your tennis warm-up routine.


Ankle Sprains


The sudden, multi-directional movements in tennis can lead to the most common type of injury known as ankle sprains. Due to these quick changes in your pattern, your foot can roll which further leads to over-stretching and hence affecting the stabilizing structures around your ankle joint.

The only method to avoid ankle sprains is to strengthen the muscles around your ankle and foot through agility training. You can wear supportive footwear which will avoid any injuries to your ankles.


Achilles Tendon or Calf Muscle Tears


Playing on hard tennis courts will result in a common type of injury known as Achilles tendon or calf muscle tears. The reason behind this injury is when you rush on to chase a ball or land suddenly. Other reasons include not warming up properly before playing or the overuse of your muscles due to a range of motion.


The treatment of a complete tear of the Achilles tendon will require full medical support.  Since it is said that prevention is better than cure, why not prevent these tears by strengthening your calf muscles? You can do this through agility training or by including specific exercises that target this muscle group in your workout regimen to prevent injuries.


tennis injury

Back Stress Fractures 


The multidirectional movements in tennis require almost all the muscles of your body to work together. As a result, the core muscles in the lower back and the abdomen help to provide stability to the other muscles and hence play a crucial role in tennis. Due to the same reason, back stress fractures occur more often than you might think in a game like a tennis match.


Back stress fractures occur when you are performing movements like serving where your back needs to Hyperextend and move from side to side very quickly.  As a result, a great deal of stress is placed on your back which could result in a stress fracture. 


The interesting fact about this injury is that you may have it and you may still not feel any pain in the initial few days. However, it can occur over a long time which makes it crucial for you to catch it early.  In case you do not identify it in the beginning stage, you can suffer from chronic long-term debilitating back pain.


Tennis Injury Prevention Tips | How to prevent tennis injuries?


Having learned the different types of tennis injuries, we will move forward to the different steps that can help you to prevent them. Following these tips will help you evade any of the Tennis injuries in the first place.


1. Include Warm Up Exercises in your workout


Though warming up before your tennis practice may seem to be a monotonous and boring job, it has a number of benefits to help reduce your injury risk. You can increase the longevity of your tennis career by indulging in different warm-up exercises like stretching jogging walking etc.


Warming up will help to increase your heart rate, Prime up your muscles, and increase the blood circulation in the muscles. This, in turn, will prepare you for sudden and strenuous movements during your tennis sessions.


Warming up will also help to strengthen the high-risk areas of your body while allowing you to swing your tennis rackets or catch the tennis ball without giving much shock to the body.  Different exercises like shuttle runs, lunges, as well as scapular presses, are recommended to add to your warm-up routine. You can also warm up by playing different types of games like football tennis, tennis badminton, Swedish handball, etc.


2. Build Resilience & strength to avoid tennis injuries


Strength is the building block to help you handle any type of physical development. Keeping this note in mind, it is important to integrate a specific tennis strength and training program into your workout regimen.


In the absence of a robust strength base, it will become difficult for you to develop physically and even handle the quick and powerful moves of tennis. Also a strong body is the foundation to help you prevent any type of injury!


When you craft a specific strength and training program for yourself, make sure it is according to your level of expertise and specific development goals. As an adult, you cannot integrate strength development programs that are meant for kids into your workout schedule.


Moreover, once a specific tennis program is developed, make sure you stick to it and analyze your progress. Your ideal strength training program for tennis will help in the longevity and success of your tennis training sessions.


3. Use the right equipment


The importance of using the right gear for tennis to help reduce your chances of injury cannot be stated enough. Let's understand this with the help of a few examples.


Firstly, wearing the right tennis shoes can help to prevent any ankle sprains or knee injuries. But make sure the type of tennis shoes you wear fit you correctly, suit the court surface on which you are playing, and support your ankles and arches. If you are playing on a hard court tennis field, then your shoes should have durable outsoles. On the other hand, people playing on a clay tennis court should have shoes with better traction.


Now moving on to preventing tennis elbows or wrist strains. For this, you have to make sure that you use the correct grip size for the tennis racket. Also, lessen the load and shock on your elbow by lowering the string tension when you strike the racket with the ball.


tennis injury prevention

4. Take regular breaks


Taking regular breaks will help to prevent overuse injuries and avoid any constant repetitive patterns. Taking a break frequently will help you recover and prevent any over-exertion and will reduce the likelihood of different types of injuries like muscle strain, rotator cuff-related injuries, or Tennis elbow.


5. Do not over stress your body


As it is said excess of anything is bad, similarly playing too much tennis can actually do more harm than good. So you must listen to your body requirements and identify if you have body pain that requires rest. Manage the amount you play to prevent any tennis related injuries by creating a Tennis schedule that has the length of a particular session or the frequency of your sessions per week.


Sometimes you can play through the pain if you have a competitive situation ahead. But if you are having consistent pain in a particular area, then overusing that area could lead to a serious injury.


6. Focus on your technique of playing


In the end, another great way to reduce the risk of developing tennis-related injuries is the way you play this sport. Your technique of playing like the way you hold the tennis racket while you play or the way you swing it can determine the pressure applied to different muscle groups. 


Other factors like the way you move or the way you indulge in quick multi-directional patterns can also play a crucial role in determining whether you will have a serious injury or not. So if you have a very physical style of playing tennis that involves a lot of jerking movements and targets all the major muscle groups in your body, then it may be time to re-think. 


Do not have a very extreme grip or a very sudden way of swinging the racket that can place a lot of strain on your arm or wrist. So, it is high time you make sure about your technique of playing tennis that does not result in a bad injury.


Conclusion 


Thus, this is all you need to know about the different types of tennis injuries and prevention tips. Preventing these injuries in the first place is better because otherwise some of these injuries can leave long-term implications which may ruin your tennis career. 


The most important tip is to include a warm-up routine in your tennis session and also practice different stretching and strengthening exercises in your workout routine.

Good luck


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