The Most Common Tennis Injuries and What to Do About Them
Tennis is an activity that requires agility, conditioning, and coordination. Even though tennis isn’t considered a high-impact sport, it still puts your body at risk for injury. Because tennis players make quick cuts and change direction frequently, they put maximum strain on their joints, ligaments, and muscles. Swinging the racket on serves and during volleys can strain the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and back.
Most tennis injuries aren’t very serious and don’t require medical attention. If you do severely injure yourself playing tennis, you should immediately seek out professional medical advice. For other, minor tennis-related injuries, keep reading. Below, we cover some of the most common tennis injuries and how you can prevent or treat them.
The most common injury in tennis is tennis elbow. This injury, also called lateral epicondylitis, is caused by improper form or overuse. The excessive, repetitive movements associated with swinging a tennis racket can lead to tennis elbow. Overuse of the tendons and muscles around the elbow can lead to inflammation and injury. Because this injury is typically caused by long-term movement, it generally has a gradual onset and gets worse without treatment.
If you notice general soreness in your elbow, a weakening grip, or pain in your forearm, you may be experiencing the early stages of tennis elbow. The best course of treatment includes rest, strengthening exercises, and mild analgesics and anti-inflammatories.
Serves, backhands, forehands, and other strikes all put stress on the shoulder area. Overuse and improper form can lead to elbow injuries in the same way as shoulder injuries.
Rotator cuff injuries are the most common tennis injuries of the shoulder. A rotator cuff injury is a tear in the connective tissue around the shoulder joint and is often caused by repetitive, rapid movement. Symptoms of this injury include pain, inflammation, inability to fully move your shoulder, and weakness.
If you begin to notice pain in your shoulder, you should ice the area after playing tennis, give your shoulder plenty of rest after use, and focus on using proper serving and volleying technique to avoid further injury. The use of a shoulder brace can alleviate pain, provide stabilization, control movement, and improve recovery time.
One side of a tennis court measures 39 x 27 feet—that’s a lot of ground to cover for an individual athlete. That means a lot of sprints, stops, and direction changes. All those rapid movements and sharp cuts mixed with side-to-side motion and off-balance swings can make for an exciting match—but it can also wreak havoc on your ankles. Likewise, awkward landings; falls; and bent, rolled, or twisted ankles can lead to minor injuries like ankle sprains or strains.
The best way to avoid ankle injury is to ensure you’re wearing properly fitted footwear that provides stability and support. Many players wear ankle supports to keep their ankles stable and strong.
If you happen to sprain or strain your ankle, the best treatment plan is to use rest, ice, and mild analgesics to alleviate symptoms. Stretching and strength training will help you speed up recovery and prevent future injury from occurring.
If you injure your ankle playing tennis, an ankle brace can help you speed up your recovery time and prevent future injury. An ankle brace will provide stability, decrease pain and inflammation, and improve flexibility—all while helping your body heal faster.
Jumper’s knee, or patellar tendonitis, is an inflammation of the patellar tendon in the knee. One of the most common tennis injuries, jumper’s knee afflicts up to 20% of all athletes who jump as part of their athletic movement. This injury is caused by repetitive stress on the knee during jumping, cutting, and side-to-side movement. Because this is a repetitive injury, the symptoms are typically minor to begin with and get worse over time and without treatment.
The best way to avoid jumper’s knee is to give your knees rest between activity, use ice therapy after heavy activity, and use mild anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen sparingly. Strength training and focusing on using proper technique can also minimize your risk of this injury.
Compression sleeves, knee braces, and other knee supports can help reduce pain, speed up recovery, teach proper movement, provide compression and stability, and improve the health of your knee.
Serving, volleying, and typical tennis movements require bending, side-bending, rotation, and other rapid movements involving the back. Because of this, stress fractures are among the most common of tennis injuries.
Stress fractures in the low back are common among athletes who participate in activities that require repetitive hyperextension. When vertebrae become fatigued or overused, they can develop fractures. This type of injury can occur due to fatigue, overtraining, or improper serving technique.
The best way to avoid this injury is to give your body rest days to heal and employ strength and endurance training into your overall training routine. What’s more, practicing proper technique during serves and volleys can help you avoid this injury.
Back braces and abdominal braces can help you maintain proper alignment during serves and volleys. What’s more, keeping your back and abdomen stable can help you avoid and prevent injury.
Listen To Your Body
Common tennis injuries can develop over time or come on quickly. The best way to treat and prevent these injuries is to listen to your body. Give yourself rest days to heal. Don’t push your body too hard where you risk fatigue or other injury. Ensure you warm up and warm down after playing tennis.
Always use the right equipment—that means shoes that fit properly, the right racket for your skill level and swing, and protective sleeves and braces to help you avoid and treat injury. Most importantly, remember to enjoy the game!