Tennis is not only a competitive and fun sport that challenges your strategic skills and physical strength, but it also has plenty of health benefits – from lowering your resting heart rate to improving your muscle tone. However, much like any other sport, there is always a risk of injury. These tennis injuries are not just restricted to the top International players like Novak Djokovic, but also the young teen players and weekend warriors.
Some of the common symptoms of a tennis injury include:
- Tenderness, pain, weakness, and discomfort at the site of injury
- The injured region feels warm to touch
- Crackling and snapping noises when moving the injured joint
- Finding it difficult to extend or lift the injured limb
- Weekend hand grip and control
- Back pain that worsens with time
Here, we will be discussing some of the most common tennis injuries, their treatment, and insight into tennis injury prevention.
Tennis elbow is one of the most common tennis injuries, and it refers to the overexertion of muscles that help the wrist to extend or bend backwards. Medically, it is called lateral epicondylitis, and it causes inflammation of the forearm muscles as well as tendons located on the exterior side of the elbow. Common symptoms of tennis elbow include localized pain towards the outside of the elbow and discomfort or pain when moving the wrist.
Tennis elbow can result from improper body positioning and backhand technique as well as the wristy impacts and late strokes. If you have been using the one-handed technique, it might be a good idea to switch to the two-handed backhand to ease the muscles and tendons in the elbow and forearm.
It is also essential that the sports equipment that you are using is the proper fit and size for you. If unsure, consult a tennis professional to determine if your racket is the right size for an optimal grip and if the string tension is suitable for your skill level. Appropriate body positioning and mechanics are also incredibly important.
Initially, a tennis elbow is treated with ice, some rest, and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medicine, like ibuprofen. In some cases, a tennis elbow counterforce brace or a wrist brace can also help. Special hand-on physical therapy is also great for strengthening and stretching the forearm muscles. If the symptoms are persistent, a steroid injection might be administered to remove the inflammation.
Ankle sprains are caused when one or more of your ankle joint ligaments are partially torn or stretched. The reason why ankle sprains are so common in tennis is the sudden and fast-paced movements that can end up twisting your ankle.
Tennis involved rapid changes of direction and side-to-side movements, which is why spraining the external ligaments of your ankles by rolling over the lateral side of the foot is a common occurrence. To prevent ankle sprains, make sure that you are wearing the right footwear – sneakers that are particularly designed for tennis players, with solid, substantial support on the shoe’s outer edge. Certain players can also benefit from wearing stabilizing ankle braces for extra support while playing.
Ankle sprains can usually be treated easily at home using RICE. But, if your ankle sprain is severe and has caused a torn ligament and you cannot walk because of the excessive pain, you should consult an orthopedic physician or a physical therapist to help you out with your treatment.
Rotator Cuff Tendinitis
The rotator cuff consists of four tendons that work simultaneously to rotate the shoulder, stabilize the joint, and help you lift your arm above your head. Rotator cuff tendinitis results from the inflammation in these tendons that gradually progresses to cause severe discomfort and pain. It also causes restrictions in your shoulder movement and function.
Rotator head tendinitis commonly results from excessive overhead serving. Altering your technique to increase the angle between your side and your arm to up to 90 degrees will reduce the strain on the tendons and decrease the risk of injuring the rotator cuff. Also, contacting the ball overhead when it is in front of you, instead of it being directly above or behind, you will also minimize the strain on tendons.
The minimum recovery period for a small tear or rotator cuff tendinitis is two to four weeks, but some severe cases can take as long as several months for complete recovery. The treatment here is similar to the tennis elbow injury. You start by icing the injured area and administer NSAIDs as required. Physical therapy also works like magic in improving the strength of your rotator cuff muscles and widening your range of motion – which is incredibly important for you to recover and return to the sports activities.
Even if you have been facing persistent pain because of a tennis injury, do consult a physical therapist or a physician for a proper diagnosis and treatment. While icing, rest, and NSAID medicines can provide some pain relief from mild to moderate injuries, it is crucial that you seek proper medical treatment for severe lingering pain. When hitting the court this year, be mindful of these common tennis injuries and make sure to always warm-up and stretch to minimize the risk of injury. Have a safe and fun tennis session!