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Reducing Your Risk of Injury in Tennis

It’s that time of year again and for those of you being inspired to get your racquets out, we are taking a look at how best to minimise your risk of injury as you get back on the court.


Tennis has numerous established health benefits, playing regular tennis is associated with improved aerobic fitness, improved bone health, and a reduced risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Research shows better bone health not only in tennis players with lifelong tennis participation, but also in those who start playing the sport in mid-adulthood. So how can you ensure you stay fit to enjoy the game and improve your health?



What are the most common injuries in tennis?

In tennis, overuse injuries are more common than the traumatic injuries that might be seen in sports like rugby or football. Repetitive movements in activities such as serving can cause gradual irritation of ligaments, tendons and joint soft tissues which results in pain.


Research in tennis players suggests the more common injuries are in the hips and legs rather than in the upper body. Interestingly, tennis elbow is not as prevalent in tennis as you might think, it makes up a relatively small proportion of tennis related injuries. Studies reveal shows the most frequently injured parts of the lower extremity were the ankle and thigh, with ankle sprains being the most common injury.


What are the risk factors for injury in tennis and how can they be managed?

There are key things you can influence that can reduce your risk of injury and help you get the most out of your game.


Training load

The amount of training is a key risk factor for overuse injury in tennis. In young players managing the demands of multiple training sessions and matches can be compounded by changes in the body related to growth. Older adults can also find sudden increases in the amount of time on court can result in overuse injuries. To overcome this, ensure the amount you train and play is spread out over a week and avoid steep increases in the amount you play from one week to the next. Young people should ensure they have at least one rest day a week and ensure they have a good balance of training content so as not to constantly overload one area of the body session after session.


Technique

Having good technique particularly in relation to serving is important to reduce risk of shoulder and upper limb pain. If you think there may be technical issues contributing to recurrent pain or injury it could be helpful to engage your local club to tap in to coaching support to help work on your technique.


Strength

Ensuring your body has the movement and strength qualities to deal with the demands of the game is important in reducing risk of injury, not only in tennis but in sport and exercise more widely. In tennis, strength to train the body to deal with quicker movements is particularly important. Fast twitch muscle fibres store and release energy for dynamic movements, whilst slow twitch fibres provide the muscular endurance for longer sustained efforts. The muscles can be become fatigued which increases the risk of pain in both muscles and tendons. By improving muscular strength and endurance the muscle-tendon unit can work harder and more effectively for longer which is likely not only to reduce risk of injury but could also have performance benefits too.


Warm up

Taking part in a thorough warm to prepare your body for training or a match is important. Your warm-up should include a gradual build of key movements required in tennis and include lateral and rotational movements of the body. Warming up the shoulder stabilising muscles is also important. You can use resistance band to do a short warm up of the shoulder prior to playing, elite players can be found doing band exercises in the locker room before a match as a key part of their preparation.


When to see a Physio?

If you have an injury that’s keeping you off the court, or if you have recurrent pain that’s interfering with your game, physiotherapy can be helpful to get to the heart of the problem. As well as treatment and rehabilitation to resolve the issue, physiotherapists can look at your biomechanics and identify key areas which need to be addressed to both ensure your full recovery and to minimise the risk of recurrence. Get in touch here if you’d like to book an appointment!

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