THE 5 MOST COMMON TENNIS INJURIES
Flaming June is the month for Strawberries and cream, and the start of ‘tennis’ mania as many of the top UK tournaments are televised, and we all hope for the Wimbledon Trophy to be won by a ‘Brit’.
With the sudden influx of competitions being played and people picking up their tennis racquets again to hit a few balls, the body can come under undue strain and injuries may occur.
Research shows that there are around 54 injuries per 1000 tennis matches played. Even the elite tennis players suffer from injuries which can also affect the recreational players as well. By understanding more about common tennis injuries you can learn that there are steps you can take to prevent them.
1 – Sprained ankle
2 – Shoulder Strain
3 – Calf Strain
4 – Stress Fracture of the Back
5 – Tennis elbow
What is a Sprained Ankle?
Sprained ankles are fairly common in tennis players, even the elite. The sudden sideways movements that are required during tennis can cause the ankle to twist, particularly if the surface is slippery or player fatigued.
The damage caused to the ligaments and soft tissue around the ankle causes bleeding within the tissues, which results in a swollen ankle that can be extremely painful.
How to prevent Sprained Ankles
Many of the top players such as Andrew Murray and Roger Federer wear an ankle brace to reduce the risk of sprains.
Research has shown that injury to players With taped ankles: 4.9 per 1000 participant matches
With ankle brace: 2.6 per 1000 participant matches
With no taping or bracing: 32.8 per 1000 matches.
What should you do if you suffer a Sprained Ankle?
In the first few days follow the PRICE protocol – PROTECTION, REST, ICE, COMPRESSION and ELEVATION (never apply ice directly to the skin). An Ankle Cryo/Cuff is the most effective method of providing ice therapy and is the professionals choice, as it can provide continuous ice water and compression for 6 hours and significantly reduce pain and swelling. Alternatively use an ice-bag to prevent an ice burn.
Rehabilitation with a chartered physiotherapist significantly improves the level of ankle function. Wobble board training in the later stages of rehab is designed to assist the re-education of the proprioceptive system and reduced the recurrence of sprain injuries for people suffering with ankle instability.
What is Shoulder Pain?
Shoulder pain can occur in tennis players because there are repeated stresses during tennis strokes, particularly the serve. The most common cause of shoulder pain is Shoulder Bursitis, which is inflammation of a sac of fluid called a Bursa.
The Rotator Cuff muscles are a small group of muscles, situated close to the shoulder joint that provide stability to the ball and socket joint. With frequent overuse of these muscles the Bursa can get ‘impinged’ between the muscles and the bony prominence of the shoulder, leading to inflammation. This leads to pain whenever the arm is raised.
How to prevent Shoulder Bursitis.
Attention should be paid to flexibility, strength and endurance of the shoulder muscles. Shoulder stabilisation exercises under the supervision of a chartered physiotherapist can help prevnt impingement.
Gradual increase in amount of training or competition should be monitored to avoid overload to the shoulder. This is particularly important with the service action, so the body can adapt to the extra stress.
What should you do if you suffer Shoulder Bursitis?
Reduce the amount of inflammation through ice therapy and anti-inflammatory medication prescribed by a Doctor. The Shoulder Cryo/Cuff is the most effective method of ice therapy treatment at home. Alternatively use a reusable cold pack, or instant Cold Packs provide a disposable method of ice therapy.
Once the inflammation and pain has settled, exercises to regain full movement can begin, followed by a carefully graded strengthening and stabilising programme.
What is Calf Strain?
The calf muscle group consists of the Gastrocnemius, Soleus and Plantaris muscles, situated at the back of the lower leg. Their function is to pull up on the heel bone and these muscles are most active during the push-off when a tennis player has to move quickly to react to an opponent’s shot. A strain occurs when the muscle is forcibly stretched beyond its limits and the muscle tissue is torn.
How to prevent Calf Strain
DIET can have an effect on muscle injuries. If a player’s diet is high in carbohydrate in the 48 hours before a match there will be an adequate supply of energy that is necessary for muscle contractions. If the muscles become short of fuel, fatigue can set in, especially during long matches. This can predispose a player to injury. Carbohydrate and fluids can be replenished during matches by taking regular sips of a sports drink between games.
What should you do if you suffer a Calf Strain?
The immediate treatment consists of the ‘PRICE’ protocol as mentioned for sprained ankle.
Many people find that a Neoprene Calf Support provides reassurance and therapeutic heat following a calf muscle injury.
The rehabilitation after this period involves gradually stretching the muscle to elongate the scar tissue and progressively increasing the muscle strength. Once this has been achieved, the player can begin tennis-specific exercises ideally under the supervision of a chartered physiotherapist.
What is a Stress Fracture of the Back?
A stress fracture of the back, or lower lumbar spine, is one of the more common bone injuries in young tennis players. Lower back stress fractures are usually characterised by an ache in the lower back which is exacerbated by sporting activities and eased by rest, although a small percentage of people with a stress fracture can be pain free. Typically it is sore when the patient bends backwards, particularly if standing on one leg. If a lower back stress is suspected, a doctor may decide to refer the patient for a scan to confirm the diagnosis.
How to prevent a Stress Fracture.
Serving in tennis requires a combination of spinal hyperextension (bending back) together with rotation and side bending of the trunk. This puts a lot of stress on an area of the vertebra called the Pars Interarticularis and this is where stress fracture develops.
Practising the serve should be carefully monitored by the coach to ensure the lower back is not being overloaded. This is particularly important in adolescent players who have just experienced a growth spurt as they are more prone to injury. Core stability exercises can help prevent back problems as well.
What should you do if you suffer a Stress Fracture of the Back?
In most cases, complete rest from tennis for a period of 6 weeks is the treatment of choice. This allows the one to heal. A soothing heat pack is beneficial in the early stages and helps alleviate back muscle spasm. Under the supervision of a Chartered Physiotherapist a progressive exercise regime should commence, to increase the muscular stability in the lower back.
Research has shown that a lack of muscular stability I the lumbar and pelvic regions can lead to low back pain and stress fractures. To improve the support to the back, core stability exercises will help prevent postural faults and back pain.
What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow is inflammation of the muscles and tendons of the forearm as they attach to the humerus (upper arm) bone. This is caused by gripping activities such as hammering, driving screws, weight lifting, garden digging, canoeing and of course racquet sports.
Tennis elbow causes pain in the outermost part of the elbow when touched and also if the arm is straight and the hand is moved forward and back at the wrist. The pain is exacerbated by gripping activities, some as simple as picking up a saucepan or turning a door handle.
How to prevent Tennis Elbow
Tennis Elbow is usually caused by over gripping – either too hard or for too long. Ensure the item you are gripping is the correct size for your hand. If it is too small it will cause you to grip too hard.
There are very simple stretching exercises that can be done to help stretch out the muscles that work the wrist – alternate between the ‘limp wrist’ and the ‘policeman halting traffic’ type stretches.
What should you do if you suffer Tennis Elbow?
It is important to control the inflammation, by rest or with use of anti-inflammatory medication and Ice Therapy using an ice pack or Cryo/Cuff.
If you see a Chartered Physiotherapists they can recommend a strengthening programme which is carefully monitored to ensure the tendons aren’t overloaded. By wearing a Tennis elbow support the load on the tendons can be reduced, alleviating symptoms of Tennis Elbow.
Information obtained from: www.physioroom.com
Tags: sports injuries