Tennis is an exciting and fast paced sport, and while it’s not considered as “high impact” as other sports like football or soccer, the quick and forceful movements involved can definitely be taxing on the muscles, joints and bones in the body. Almost 18 million Americans play the game annually, and according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, up to 78,000 seek medical care for an injury sustained on the court. How can you work on your backhand without becoming a scratch for the season?
Accident and Injury
While a good number of medical visits involve a true accident on the court, a majority of tennis injuries are the result of poor form or technique, poor physical condition, and poor tone or flexibility in the soft tissues in the body. Amateur players are more prone to acute injuries in the body, like twisted ankles, tendon tears, and foot injuries. Seasoned pros, however, can develop more chronic injuries because of the strain of hard, directional changes and pounding all season long. What are the most common tennis injuries and how can you avoid them?
The condition of sore muscles and inflamed soft tissues around the outside of the elbow is such a common tennis injury that even when it’s not caused by playing, it’s still called “Tennis Elbow.” This is the number one cause of doctor visits for elbow pain in the country.
- Symptoms include pain, swelling, loss of grip strength
- Causes include repetitive gripping or movements, strain in the muscles, and microscopic tears in the soft tissues around the elbow joint.
- Balancing the tone of the flexion and extension muscles in the forearm can keep one group from working harder than the other, which causes uneven strain. Also, a compression strap may reduce tension in the elbow.
Playing tennis involves a lot of quick, directional changes, and jumping and springing from one leg to the other can be very jarring and straining on the joints. Inflammation of the patellar tendon (which attaches the kneecap to the shin) is a common tennis injury and results in “Jumper’s Knee.”
- Symptoms will include pain at the front of the knee/bottom of knee cap, swelling, irritation, and stiffness
- Causes include sudden, jarring overexertion of the patellar tendon, but it can also develop over time from weakness of support muscles in the thighs and repetitive strain in the joint.
- A major key to treating knee injuries successfully is to rest and seek care early! It may only seem like a small, nagging pain, but knee problems can quickly become chronic and difficult to treat and eventually require surgery to repair.
Lower back problems are common tennis injuries because of the rotational force required in the torso when hitting groundstrokes. Not only can players experience muscle strains when fatigue compromises form, younger players are especially at risk for stress fractures in the lumbar spine because of core instability.
- Symptoms of a back injury can include pain, stiffness, inflammation, immobility
- Common causes of injury to the back are skipping a warm-up to prepare the muscles and other soft tissues around the spine, and insufficient strength in the core muscles of the abdomen and back.
- Working with a regimen to develop tone of the core muscles will help protect the spine, and establishing proper technique during play can help prevent injuries from overextension and twisting.
Want to Avoid a Scratch this Summer?
At Envista Medical, we utilize an integrative, full-body health approach to keeping your pain at bay. Our team of doctors, therapists and trainers, chiropractors, and physicians’ assistants realizes it will take more than a pill, supplement, or periodic adjustment to keep you active and pain-free. Contact us today to learn more about our services and to get started with your own comprehensive treatment plan.