4 Common tennis injuries and how to overcome them
Tennis, Pimms, Strawberries and British summer can only mean one thing – Wimbledon season has arrived. It’s the most iconic sporting event of the British summertime, putting the country on the edge of its seat as we watch some of the world’s best competitive athletes fight for the top spot. If you’re taking your love of tennis off the sofa and onto the court, it’s important that you have fun without causing pain or injury along the way.
At Pernaton we support you keeping active, getting outdoors and carrying on with the things you love. Our pain-relieving gel is formulated with completely natural ingredients, supplying your body with essential nutrients to support joint function and relieve pain.
The most common causes of injury whilst playing tennis are repetitive strain injuries and those stemming from inadequate technique or improper training. We’ve put together a list of the most common injuries and how you can prevent them.
- Arm injuries
The most common injury associated with the sport, tennis elbow is an overuse of the muscles used to extend and bend your elbow It’s also the muscle that is heavily impacted when the ball hits the racquet. Proper strengthening of this muscle and those around it, together with a regular warm-up routine, will help to reduce your chance of contracting tennis elbow.
Tennis has also been linked to carpal tunnel syndrome. The carpal tunnel is located between the bottom of the wrist and the palm of your hand, with tendons and nerves running through it. One of these, the medial nerve, controls sensation in the hand. When the medial nerve comes under pressure, reducing the space inside the tunnel, it can cause tingling, numbness and restricted movement in the fingers and hands. This is what’s known as carpal tunnel syndrome. Most cases heal on their own, but you may need treatment for severe cases.
- Shoulder injuries
Two shoulder injuries associated with tennis are rotator cuff tendonitis and impingement syndrome. The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles, allowing a range of movement in the shoulder. When the tendons are put under pressure, especially with the overhead ‘slam’ shot, they can become inflamed.
Impingement syndrome occurs when the inflamed tendons surrounding the rotator cuff don’t have enough space and become trapped. This can cause pain, especially when lifting your arm overhead. If either of these happen to you, rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medication are recommended along with stretches and exercises to improve your range of movement and strengthen the muscles.
- Leg injuries
As with many sports, you need to be careful to avoid a few different leg injuries when playing tennis. Repetitive jumping to reach the ball can put undue stress on your knees, causing pain and swelling. This is called jumper’s knee, an excessive strain of the patellar tendon which attaches the kneecap to the shin bone as well as aiding leg movement and supporting your weight.
If you fall awkwardly, walk on uneven ground or quickly change direction – which is required in tennis – be careful of ankle sprains. Minor ankle sprains usually happen when a ligament is stretched beyond its limit, with more serious sprains implying a partial or complete tear in the ligament. Minor sprains, experienced through pain, swelling and bruising will heal over time with rest, strapping and anti-inflammatories.
Calf and hamstring strains, whereby muscles are stretched beyond their limits, are also common with tennis. Again – rest, anti-inflammatory medication and physiotherapy to rebuild strength are used to heal the area. More serious strains will take longer and may need a cast or supportive brace. You can reduce the risk of strains and sprains by wearing supports, avoiding uneven surfaces and making sure you thoroughly warm up and cool down.
- Stress fractures
Tennis requires a combination of back-bending, side-bending and twisting, which means that stress fractures are a common injury. These types of movement put pressure on the vertebrae in the lower back and can cause fractures, whereby the bone cannot adjust quickly enough and “breaks” – these breaks are usually cracks that can cause pain. Often, this happens if you train too hard too quickly before your body is used to the activity, or don’t allow enough time to rest between practicing. Stress fractures can also occur in the feet due to the repetitive landing on a hard surface. The best treatment is rest, allowing the bones time to heal and preventing further damage.
To avoid injury whilst playing tennis, there are certain tips to keep in mind.
Make sure you have the right equipment, including good tennis shoes and socks with extra padding to support the feet and ankles – you can wear two pairs of regular socks if you don’t have tennis socks. Ensure that your racquet has the right string tension and grip size to reduce stress to your elbow and shoulder, and make sure it is the right size and weight for your size and ability.
Before you hit the court, warm-up properly to prepare your muscles for exercise and reduce your chance of strains and sprains. Likewise, a proper cool-down is essential for muscle recovery. You can also massage Pernaton Gel Forte or Pernaton Classic into your joints and muscles before and after exercise to increase circulation and relieve any pain.
When it comes to playing, be aware of your technique. Don’t push your body beyond its limits by bending or reaching too far and balance your upper body by bending your knees and raising your heels. Take regular breaks so as not to overexert yourself and to allow the body to recover. The better your overall fitness, the less chance you have of hurting yourself, so it’s good to incorporate tennis into a wider fitness regimen. If in doubt about anything, talk to a professional to help you get the right equipment, technique and training methods.