What stops us from playing the sport we love the most? Painful injuries. With the extensive running, foot movements, and shoulder rotations, we have all, at least once, taken a breather from tennis. Today, I have highlighted three of the most common injuries in tennis, as well as methods of keeping away from pain.
As somebody who endured tennis elbow, I can tell you it was an agonizing experience. With seemingly endless, weekly physical therapy, I was finally able to play tennis after a 5-month hiatus. Tennis elbow displays its symptoms after heavy overuse of the forearm muscles and wrist: whether repeatedly hitting forehands, backhands, or snapping your wrist on the serve. Though common in sports involving rackets, plumbers, painters, and manual laborers are also common victims of tennis elbow. So how can you avoid this injury?
Stretching is key to avoiding injuries. Incorporate arm, elbow, and wrist stretches into your warm-up. If you feel strain in your forearm due to a certain stroke, find ways to change your form to avoid feeling stress on your tendons. If you happen to have pain, quickly ice and place an elbow brace on your forearm. In my experience, tape does not work well, as sweat and constant arm swings weaken the tape’s ability to adhere; a Velcro brace is much more preferable.
Rotator Cuff Tear
With frequent over-head motion, strains on your rotator cuff are common in tennis. A rotator cuff tear may occur due to a sudden jerk of the arm or a fall, or may be the result of degradation over time. While a minor tear requires applying ice, medication, and a brace or sling, a large tear may resort to surgery. The healing process usually spans from 4 to 12 weeks with the aid of physical therapy.
You can avoid rotator cuff injuries simply from maintaining good posture. Stretching and shoulder exercises such as arm circles will also help prevent various shoulder injuries, and resistance band exercises will also enable you to increase shoulder strength.
Playing and moving on a hard-court surface makes us extremely vulnerable to Jumper’s Knee. This injury occurs due to overuse and repeated stress on your patellar tendons, and can result in pain when walking or even bending your leg. The healing process varies from days to months, and if serious, could lead to surgery.
Because the patellar tendon is connected to your ankle and therefore foot, make sure to wear shoes that support your arch. Frequent foam-rolling and stretching after workouts will ensure muscle flexibility, and strength training that targets the hamstrings and lower back will enhance stabilization in the knee.
Although we impatiently desire to recommence our playing and competing, it is important to completely heal before returning back to the court. If you are rash with the healing process, the consequences could end up worse and delay your tennis resumption further. Please make sure to be safe while having fun.