Tennis is a sport any age can enjoy, and enjoy for life. You’ll get your heart pumping, quench those competitive juices, and you can also take out some aggression on that little yellow ball. But be careful! Tennis does have some injury risk due to the repetitive nature and the quick movements that occur during a match.
Let’s meet our ATI Injury Analyst Heather Barry, a physical therapist at our ATI Physical Therapy. Heather offered this advice on injuries in the tennis world…
- Sprained Ankle: A sprained ankle can occur due to the sudden sideways movements especially on a slippery surface or if a player is fatigued. Treatment: If this injury does occur, PRICE (protect, rest, ice, compression and elevation) is a good principle to follow, Heather says. Prevention: To help prevent an ankle sprain, some players tape or wear a brace. A player can also perform strengthening exercises for their core, ankle and proprioceptive/balance exercises.
- Shoulder Injuries: A shoulder injury or pain can occur due to repetitive stress placed on muscles and tendons of the rotator cuff during strokes. The rotator cuff can get impinged with overheads and serving motions. Treatment: If this type of injury does occur, ice and/or anti-inflammatory medication prescribed by a doctor can be helpful to decrease the inflammation. Strengthening the rotator cuff muscles and scapular muscles are helpful to provide stability to the shoulder. Prevention: To help prevent this type of injury, it is important to work on flexibility, strength and endurance of the muscles in the shoulders and shoulder blade region. It is important to gradually increase workouts and training to not overload the shoulder.
- Calf Strain: Because a tennis player must have quick reactions to get to an opponent’s shot, a calf strain can occur. If the muscle is forcibly stretched beyond its limits, muscle tissue can be torn. Treatment: If this injury occurs, the treatment can include the PRICE principle, stretching, strengthening the core and the leg muscles, and proprioceptive exercises. Prevention: To help prevent a muscle strain, it is helpful to stretch the muscle, eat healthy to make sure your tissues have enough nutrients and drink water to replenish fluids.
- Tennis Elbow: Tennis elbow (or lateral epicondylitis) is inflammation of the muscles/tendons of the forearm that attach to the humerus. This occurs due to prolonged gripping of the racquet. Treatment: Treatment can include a compression strap for the elbow, ice, or possibly a corticosteroid injection given by a doctor if the inflammation is severe enough. A physical therapist can instruct in stretching and strengthening exercises to help this injury. Prevention: To help prevent this injury perform stretches and make sure the grip size of your racquet is correct.