Chiswick-Physio BLOG

Common tennis injuries and prevention
Muscles & Joints

Introduction

If you’re struggling with an existing Tennis Injury or want to prevent one from occurring in the future, read on for Chiswick-Physios top tennis tips.

With over 15 years of treating the local Chiswick community we’ve been there, done that – and we know how difficult it can be to rehab and get back to your normal activities. That’s why we’re sharing our experience and knowledge with you so you can prevent an injury from happening, treat it in the best way possible to get you back on court and keep you there.

Before we divulge both practical tips and exercises to prevent tennis injuries, we have made a list of the top 5 conditions we see in the clinic.

The 5 most common tennis injuries

The sport of tennis involves repetitive movements and high-impact actions, which can put strain on various parts of the body and lead to injuries. While there are several tennis injuries that players can experience, here are five of the most common ones that we see at Chiswick-Physio:

Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis): Tennis elbow is a condition characterized by stiffness and pain on the outer part of the elbow. It occurs due to repetitive stress on the tendons that connect the forearm muscles to the bony prominence on the outside of the elbow. Overuse of the wrist and forearm during tennis strokes, particularly the backhand, can contribute to this injury.

Shoulder Injuries: Tennis involves a lot of overhead motions, such as serving and “smashing”, which can lead to various shoulder injuries. Rotator cuff tendonopathies, subacromial pain (previously known as shoulder impingement), and shoulder instability are some common shoulder injuries among tennis players. These injuries can cause pain, limited range of motion, and instability in the shoulder joint.

Knee Injuries: The quick, lateral movements and sudden changes in direction in tennis can put stress on the knees. Conditions like patellar tendinopathies (overload of the patellar tendon) and meniscus tears are common knee injuries seen in tennis players. The repetitive impact and rotation of the knee while running or hitting the ball can contribute to these injuries.

Ankle Sprains: Tennis players are at risk of ankle sprains due to the frequent side-to-side movements, quick changes in direction, and occasional sliding on the court. “Rolling” or “twisting” the ankle can result in stretching or tearing of the ligaments that support the joint. Ankle sprains can cause pain, swelling, and instability.

Back Injuries: Repetitive rotation and extension movements in tennis, combined with the impact of hitting the ball, can lead to back injuries. Common tennis-related back injuries include muscle strains, disc and joint irritation and in extreme situations, stress fractures. Poor technique, inadequate strength, and improper movement mechanics can contribute to these injuries.

It’s important to note that these are just a few of the common injuries in tennis, and there are other potential injuries that can occur. If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort, it’s always recommended to consult with a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

What can I do to prevent tennis injuries?

The most important part of preventing Tennis Injuries is to take steps to protect yourself before an injury arises and to do what you can to prevent a pre-existing injury from becoming more serious.
Preventing tennis injuries requires a combination of proper technique, conditioning, and injury prevention strategies. Here are some tips to help prevent the five most common tennis injuries:

Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis):

  • Use proper technique and grip size to reduce stress on the tendons.

  • STRENGTHEN the forearm muscles through specific exercises.

  • Gradually increase playing intensity and duration to avoid sudden overuse.

Shoulder Injuries:

  • Maintain good overall shoulder STRENGTH and flexibility.

  • Warm up properly before playing, including shoulder-specific stretches.

  • Focus on proper technique, particularly on serving and overhead shots.

  • Gradually increase the intensity and volume of training to avoid overloading the shoulder.

Knee Injuries:

  • STRENGTHEN the muscles around the knee, including quadriceps and hamstrings as well as the glutes and abdominals.

  • Use proper footwear that provides support and cushioning.

  • Modify footwork technique to reduce excessive stress on the knees.

  • Avoid abrupt changes in direction and land softly while executing movements.

Ankle Sprains:

  • STRENGTHEN the ankle muscles and improve balance through specific exercises.

  • Wear supportive footwear that provides ankle stability.

  • Use ankle braces or tape for additional support, especially if you have a history of ankle sprains.

  • Focus on proper footwork technique and avoid excessive sliding on the court.

Back Injuries:

  • Maintain good core STRENGTH and flexibility.

  • Practice proper posture and body mechanics during tennis strokes.

  • Warm up adequately before playing, including dynamic stretches for the back.

  • Avoid overexertion and listen to your body’s signals of fatigue or discomfort.

In addition to these injury prevention strategies, it’s important to have regular rest and recovery periods, as well as listen to your body for any signs of pain or discomfort. If you experience persistent or severe pain, it’s advisable to seek medical attention to prevent further injury.

What exercises can I do to prevent tennis injuries?

Prehabilitation, often referred to as “prehab,” involves taking proactive steps to prevent injuries before they occur. It typically focuses on improving strength, flexibility, and stability in the key areas vulnerable to tennis injuries. Here are some prehab exercises and practices that can help reduce the risk of common tennis injuries:

Prehab for Tennis Elbow:

  • Wrist Curls: Use light dumbbells or resistance bands to perform wrist curls in both directions to strengthen the forearm muscles.

  • Eccentric Exercise: Slowly lower a weight or resistance band with your wrist extended to target the muscles involved in tennis elbow.

Prehab for Shoulder Injuries:

  • Rotator Cuff Exercises: Perform exercises that strengthen the rotator cuff muscles, such as internal and external rotations with resistance bands or light weights.

  • Scapular Stabilization Exercises: Work on exercises that focus on stabilizing the shoulder blades, such as scapular retractions and shoulder blade squeezes.

  • Thoracic Mobility Exercises: Incorporate exercises that improve thoracic mobility and flexibility, such as rotation in a deep squat, spiderman or side lying.

Prehab for Knee Injuries:

  • Squats and Lunges: Perform squats and lunges to strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, which provide support to the knees.

  • Balance and Stability Exercises: Incorporate exercises that challenge your balance, such as single-leg balances and stability ball exercises.

  • Flexibility Exercises: Include stretches for the lower leg and to maintain good flexibility in the lower body.

Prehab for Ankle Sprains:

  • Ankle Strengthening Exercises: Perform exercises like ankle circles, heel-to-toe raises, and calf raises to strengthen the ankle muscles and improve stability.

  • Balance and Proprioception Training: Incorporate exercises that challenge your balance and improve your proprioception, such as standing on one leg or using balance boards.

  • Ankle Mobility Exercises: Perform banded mobility and ankle alphabet exercises to improve range of motion.

Prehab for Back Injuries:

  • Core Strengthening Exercises: Focus on exercises that target the core muscles, such as planks, bridges, and bird dogs, to improve stability and support the back.

  • Hip and Lower Back Mobility Exercises: Incorporate exercises that improve hip mobility and lower back flexibility, such as hip rotations and cat-camel stretches.

  • Proper Body Mechanics: Practice and reinforce proper body mechanics during tennis strokes to minimize stress on the back, such as using your legs and core for power rather than relying solely on the back or arms.

Conclusion

In conclusion, common tennis injuries can significantly impact players’ performance and overall well-being. Tennis elbow, shoulder injuries, knee injuries, ankle sprains, and back injuries are among the most frequently encountered issues in the sport. However, with proper prevention strategies, these injuries can be minimized or even avoided altogether.

To prevent tennis injuries, it is crucial to focus on various aspects of training and preparation which include:

  1. Technique

  2. Strength and conditioning

  3. Gradual Progression

  4. Equipment and Footwear

  5. Rest and recovery

By implementing these injury prevention strategies, tennis players can significantly reduce the likelihood of common tennis injuries, prolong their playing careers, and enjoy the sport to its fullest potential. Stay safe, take care of your body, and continue to improve your game while minimising the risk of injury.

    We are here for you

    If you’re in pain and would like to talk to us about getting some help, some specialist advice, or if you are looking for a diagnosis, remember we are always here to help you.

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    If you would like to get one of our limited slots, please click HERE to email or CALL us on 07900603617.

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