Tennis Related Injury
Tennis is a globally popular game played in over 200 countries across the world. However, as with most sports, there are injury risks associated with the movements and forces involved. Research evidence suggests that the prevalence of injury in tennis is about half that of other multi-sprint sports such as soccer and handball, but rates are comparable with individual sports such as running and golf.
Some tennis-related injuries can be very specific to the sport itself; therefore getting assessed and treated by a practitioner familiar with the biomechanics of tennis is an important step towards successfully returning to play.
Here are a few examples of how external and internal factors may be contributing to your injury:
Racquet weight and Grip Size:
Heavier racquets require more muscle strength and control around the forearm, and inappropriate grip size on the racquet can lead to irritation of the tendons of the wrist and forearm (e.g. ‘tennis elbow’)
Lower string tension can absorb more shock and produce greater power, but often less control of the ball. Many tennis players use a high string tension for greater control of spin and touch, although this increases the impact and the muscle stability requirements to absorb this (see ‘strength and stability’ below)
Tennis shoes specific to the surface e.g. hard court, grass, indoors etc. can reduce the risk of injury and improve performance by allowing an appropriate amount of friction between the playing surface and the sole of the shoe. If alignment and imbalance is an issue in the lower limb, then custom made insoles or orthotics may be of use to provide support the feet in the right places.
Stroke technique: A good tennis coach to teach correct technique can be invaluable, as many ‘overuse’ type injuries stem from poor grip, inefficient movement during the stroke, inadequate use of the kinetic chain (e.g. using legs to produce power).
Tennis is largely a one-sided sport, and muscle imbalances can easily develop over time causing an increased risk of injury. People who have played tennis at a high level for a long period of time can develop structural changes in the dominant shoulder, which can lead to impingement and pain. It is therefore important to work specifically on muscle strength and flexibility that will address these imbalances. Another common area of injury is the low back from repeated serving; good core control of high velocity extension-rotation movements is very important.
Adequate recovery is required not only to prevent injury but also to increase performance. Injury is more likely during fatigue, so avoid training hard the day before a match. At least one, if not two, full rest days per week can prevent ‘overuse’ amongst players training at a high level and intensity.
Strength and stability:
The impact of hitting a ball requires a large amount of muscular stability around the joints and core to absorb shock and oscillation movements of the racquet. Excellent muscular control specific to these movements is therefore needed to prevent future injury.