Wimbledon is upon us and tennis fever is set to sweep across the nation. Will Andy Murray win? Will we keep the Wimbledon Trophy in the UK? Only time will tell but it is certain that millions of us will be watching closely.
Wimbledon and the summer season also inspires many to start playing the sport. But with many new players, it is also the peak season for tennis-related injuries. With many sudden stops and increased loads on joints, many new players are likely to injure themselves compared to professionals.
Some of the common tennis injuries are sudden and cause a short and sharp pain (also known as acute pain). This often affects the lower parts of the body due to the rapid movement on the court as it is usually made from cement, asphalt or synthetic materials. These materials have no absorption of impact – meaning your body absorbs the shocks.
The more long-term pain (or chronic) occurs in the upper half of the body. These are normally overuse injuries and account for two-thirds of tennis-related injuries.
Tennis elbow is the most common name for lateral epicondylitis and affects new and recreational players more than professionals’ wrists. This is due to the different ways each performs a backhand stroke. A recreational or new player is more likely to apply pressure to their wrists in a flexed position while professionals usually raise their wrists. This strains the muscles and tendons in the forearm and elbow.
Symptoms include pain and/or burning on the outside of the elbow. These symptoms are exacerbated when doing forearm activities.
A rotator cuff is an overuse injury that affects the shoulder. The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles and tendons that provide mobility and stability to the shoulder. Playing tennis frequently can gradually wear and tear these muscles without adequate time for repair.
Symptoms include pain, tenderness, weakness in the affected area and a grinding noise when moving the shoulder.
Jumper’s knee is the common name for patellar tendonitis. This a tendon that is connected to the kneecap and shinbones and enables our bodies to place weight on the leg without giving way. Jumping and sudden movements place excessive weights on this tendon and causes tears. This results in swelling and pain – especially when walking up stairs, kneeling or jumping)
This is probably one of the most common injury to a tennis player – either professional or recreational. The feet aren’t designed to suddenly move in a sideways motion, it can occasionally twist past its threshold, causing damage to one or more ligaments. When this occurs, the ankle may be unstable, painful and may show signs of bruising.
Many of the injuries can be treated with PRICE therapy – protect, rest, ice, compression and elevation. Following these steps can alleviate the symptoms after a few days or weeks. However, if there is still pain after this time, it is best to see your GP or London Bridge Orthopaedics.
As with any injury, prevention is always better than a cure! Here are some tips so you can avoid injuring yourself during your set:
1) Ensure you have adequate footwear and clothing.
2) Warm up and cool down before and after a game.
3) Do strength-building exercises to build muscle and prevent muscle-based injuries.
4) Watch your technique – watching your balance and how you are landing to prevent injury to your heels, knees, arms and wrists.
5) Take regular breaks. Fatigue can make you less likely to watch your technique and cut corners – making yourself prone to injury.
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