Referred to as a “lifetime” sport, tennis is a great way for people of all ages and athletic abilities to stay in shape. Because tennis is not a contact sport, people do not always think of it as a game with a high risk for injury. However, tennis is a fast-paced activity, and players can sustain a number of injuries at all skill levels. Below, we have described some of the most common tennis injuries, as well as tips on how to avoid and treat them.
Medically known as lateral epicondylitis, tennis elbow is an overuse injury to the tendons and forearm muscles around your outer elbow, caused by repeated bending of the wrist or improper technique. If you suffer from tennis elbow, one or more tendons around the joint may become inflamed, resulting in pain and a burning sensation.
Always warm up and cool down before and after playing tennis. Wearing a supportive brace while playing helps to reduce your risk of developing tennis elbow. Make sure your racket is strung properly, and that your grip technique is correct and is the right size and fit. Proper mechanics and body positioning are also important. Using racquet strings that are too tight or gripping the racquet too tightly can increase your risk of developing tennis elbow. Ask an experienced tennis player to ensure that your racquet is properly sized for your grip.
The most effective treatment for tennis elbow is rest. Icing the elbow and using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication can also help reduce inflammation. Special physical therapy exercises for stretching and strengthening the forearm muscles are beneficial as well, and may help to improve the condition and prevent re-injury.
A stress fracture is a small crack in a bone, which can result from repetitive movements or overuse. Hard tennis courts are usually made of asphalt or concrete, resulting in a harsh impact on your body. Running and jumping repeatedly while playing tennis can put stress on the bones, resulting in fractures in the foot, leg, or lower back. These fractures may cause pain and swelling that slowly gets worse over time.
Take plenty of breaks while playing tennis, and do not increase the intensity of your training suddenly. Alternating tennis with low-impact activities like biking or swimming can also help prevent stress fractures.
The best treatment for a stress injury is rest, which gives the bone time to heal and prevents further aggravation. More serious fractures may require immobilization of the afflicted area by way of a brace or boot. Once the fracture has started to heal, physical therapy will help strengthen the surrounding bone and tissue.
A sprained ankle (also known as a “twisted” or “rolled” ankle) involves a ligament in the ankle stretching too far, or in more serious cases, tearing. Falling or landing awkwardly on your ankle, changing direction too quickly, and walking or running on uneven ground can all cause an ankle sprain.
Supportive footwear and ankle supports can reduce the risk of a sprain. Make sure you are wearing sneakers specifically designed for tennis, with substantial, firm support on the outer edge of the shoe. Try to avoid uneven surfaces when playing tennis, and always warm up and cool down before and after physical activity.
Sprained ankles usually heal over time with rest, immobilization, ice, and, in some cases, anti-inflammatory medicine. Because sprains can range from mild to severe, visit your physical therapist if you injure your ankle to make sure it’s treated correctly.
With these tips, you can prevent the most common tennis injuries while getting in a healthy workout. If you are experiencing persistent pain from a tennis injury, contact us at IMPACT Physical Therapy to speak with a physical therapist for diagnosis and treatment. We specialize in treating a number of injuries, so learn more about our services and reach out to us whenever you are looking for comprehensive care.