With memories of Wimbledon fresh in our minds this is often the time of year that our interest in tennis is rekindled across the nation.
If you are considering picking up your racket, taking up the sport or perhaps feel you could do with some insights on avoiding injury this blog is the perfect place to start.
In order to avoid tennis injuries the British Chiropractic Association has the following advice:
– Warm up. Make sure your muscles are prepared by gradually increasing the intensity of your warm up. Otherwise a lack of flexibility can cause injury. A warm down may also help with those post match aches.
– Watch the pressure points. Your joints are most at risk due to the repetitive nature of actions such as serving, ground strokes and volleying.
– Keep drinking fluids – muscles and joints work better when you are not dehydrated.
Common tennis injuries
Injuries commonly seen in tennis involve the upper arm and problems with the knees and ankles. We often see professional players with large amounts of strapping and supports on their shoulders, elbows, knees and ankles. This is often due to the speeds and forces involved the in the modern game.
The same tennis injuries can affect the amateur player, especially those going back to the sport after a break, as these problems are often caused by performing repetitive actions such as serving, volleying, drop shots and smashes.
Rotator cuff injuries
Rotator cuff injuries are one of the most common injuries to the shoulder – they are due to inflammation or damage to the muscles or tendons of the shoulder. Tennis players and any other sports people that use rackets often suffer from them.
Symptoms of which tend to include;
- Pain in your shoulder when you raise or lower your arm.
- Difficulty placing your arm behind your back (in women this is often noticed when trying to put their bra on)
- Pain at night especially when sleeping on the involved side
- Weakness when you lift or rotate your arm.
What can you do to help this.
You can trying resting, using ice and if needed taking pain killers, however if the problem continues for more than a couple of weeks you should seek treatment.
Chiropractors can treat shoulder and rotator cuff problems by working to improve the movement in the shoulder and therefore take the pressure off the area. They do this by relaxing muscles and improving the movement in the shoulder (gleno-humeral joint).
Chiropractors will often assess the neck, upper back and rib joints to see if any problems in those areas may be affecting the shoulder joint. They will also provide rehab exercises to strengthen the shoulder – this helps prevent the injury from returning.
With all the stopping, starting, sliding to get to the ball and quick changes of directions it is not surprising that tennis players suffer from knee problems such as jumper’s knee and patellofemoral pain syndrome.
As with a lot of ‘sporting’ knee injuries they are often caused as a result of overuse of the joint and muscles in the area coupled with a weakness or tightness of the muscles surrounding the joints. In knee injuries this is often a weakness of the quadriceps muscles and tightness of the hamstring muscles.
Treatment often involves strengthening the quads and stretching the hamstrings. Chiropractors treating knee injuries will often look at the pelvis and low back to see if hamstring tightness is due to restrictions in pelvic joint movement as well as assessing, hip, knee, ankle and foot motion.
Often faulty foot mechanics will cause forces coming up from the ground during walking, running and suddenly stopping and changing direction to be absorbed badly by the muscles and joints in the legs, especially by the knee and calf muscles. Orthotics (shoe inserts) can help support the arch in the foot and help improve the action of the feet.
General fitness also plays a role, if you a struggling to play a full match then your muscles will be tired and more prone to injury than if you can comfortably play a match – so working on your cardiovascular fitness and not just improving your serve and volley may also help prevent injuries.
My top five tips for avoiding tennis injuries are:
1) Warm up – before every match and training session.
2) Cool down – after every match and training session.
3) Start slow – build up the the amount of time you spend playing and how frequently you play.
4) Get fit not just match fit – Make sure you build up your cardiovascular fitness, don’t just practice your forearm!
5) Seek treatment for any injury you have before you start playing and if you get an injury have it assessed and treated quickly.
For more information on chiropractic treatment of sports injuries click here.
Alternatively, you are welcome to contact me via email firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 01635 791 301.
Withing you a healthy and happy time in the great outdoors,
Rosie Piercy MChiro DC