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Tennis Injury Prevention

Tennis is one of the most practised individual sports, with an estimated 17.9 million players, and significant growth in the number of youth tennis players in recent years.

Unlike other sports, tennis matches are not limited in duration by a pre determined length of play, and matches can often last several hours. In addition, tennis entails high aerobic and anaerobic demands, with repetitive stresses through a variety of stroke movements. As a result, tennis players are susceptible to a range of injuries including chronic overuse conditions and acute traumatic injuries.

Common Injuries

We can separate the injuries into 2 categories: Overuse and Acute injury

Overuse are caused by repetitive movements which are going to create tissue microtrauma which leads to a gradual onset pain; Common injuries include:

  • SLAP Shoulder

  • Tendinopathy medial or lateral elbow

  • Tendonitis of the extensor carpi ulnaris

  • Abdominal Muscle strain

  • Lumbar strains

  • Disc degenerative pathologies

Acute Injuries are caused by a traumatic event which leads to a sudden pain with consequent swelling or bruising. Common injuries include:

  • Ankle Sprains

  • Meniscal Knee Injury

  • Groin muscle strain

  • Hip Joint Injury

Image 1: Shows reported injuries in tennis

Risk Factors

This is a list of the risk factors which are influencing the increasing of risk of injury in tennis

  • Age and sex

  • Level and volume of play

  • Poor Technique and conditioning

  • Surface and equipment

  • Body misalignment

  • Poor warm up and cool down

How to Reduce The Risk of Injury x Body Part

SHOULDER: It is important to have high levels of musular control (shoulder, upper back and thorax) to maintain stability of the shoulder joint during tennis strokes. Overuse is not only for repetitive concentric and eccentric demands on the rotator cuff but also underlying hypermobility and excessive laxity of the glenohumeral joint. Performance or preventative supplemental exercise for the rotator cuff and scapula muscles as an essential base in the exercises program for a tennis player.

LOWER BACK: One of the motions that can particularly stress the spine is the combined movements of extension, lateral flexion and rotation that are inherent in the cocking or loading phase of the tennis serve. To combat the effects of this loading, preventitive conditioning strategies for tennis players include extensive core stability training.

HIP: Injuries to the hip region were thought to focus on the powerful muscles that spanned not only the hip joint but also the knee joint. An increase understanding of the evaluation and diagnosis of the hip has lead to the impact loading and multidirectional movement patterns and abrupt stoppping, starting, cutting and twisting that occur in tennis players. Exercises to provide greater stabilisation to the hip and core are recommended to ptentially decrease hip injury risk.

By Andrea Cutrupi

February 2022

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