How to prevent getting injured while playing tennis
Updated: Feb 10, 2019
We are passionate about all sports here at Ultra Sports Clinic, however tennis is something especially close to our hearts.
Director and Lead Physiotherapist, Ashleigh Wienand, has worked with the South African Davis Cup and Federation Cup teams
Our Senior Physiotherapist, Damian Lazzaro, has played tennis for over 15 years
Our practice manager, Marian Havenga, is lifelong tennis fan
So, with the 2017 Wimbledon Championships just around the corner, we thought it would be the perfect time to discuss tennis related injuries.
Some Fun facts:
Tennis as we know it is believed to have been created by Harry Gem and Augurio Perera in Brimingham sometime between 1859 and 1865.
Think that’s old?
Physiotherapy and its principals of massage, manual therapy and hydrotherapy can be traced back to Physicians like Hippocrates as early as 460 BC.
This Ultra Sports Clinic blogpost is going to outline the factors that contribute to tennis related injuries. Simple modifications and guidance from one of our skilled physiotherapists can get you back on the court and playing at your best
The impact between ball and racquet places significant stress on the shoulder and elbow of tennis players. How much is felt depends on several factors; how hard the player swings, the velocity of the approaching ball, where on the racquet the ball is struck, the qualities of the racquet, the string tension and the stroke mechanics.
Did you know that many tennis injuries are related to the player’s racquet?
Decades ago, players like Rod Laver used wooden racquets which were heavy and flexible. Although this decreased the amount of shock transmitted, the racquets could not generate much power. These days, players like Roger Federer and Andy Murray use wide-body racquets that are lighter and stiffer. Although these modern racquets generate significantly more power, they do not absorb the shock as well as the wooden racquets of Rod Laver’s era.
What can you do to reduce the shock and thus lessen the force transmitted into your arm?
1. Lower the string tension of your racquet 2. Use a more flexible racquet 3. Use a racquet with a larger head 4. Increase the weight of the racquet (add tape to head and handle) 5. Increase the grip size 6. Grip higher on the handle of the racquet
Figure 1: How to measure correct grip size
If you look at figure 1, you’ll see how to properly measure your optimal grip size. The circumference of your grip should equal the distance from your proximal (lower) palmar crease to the tip of your ring finger. Ideally, a tennis player should be using the largest comfortable grip size to prevent them from gripping the racquet too tightly.
Where the ball hits the racquet also affects the risk of injury. Every racquet has a “sweet spot,” which is the area in the centre of the racquet face. Hitting a shot from the sweet spot transmits minimal shock into the players arm. On the contrary, if the ball is struck from outside the sweet spot, there is increased shock transmitted to the player’s hand, wrist and elbow.
Poor technique with certain tennis strokes can also predispose players to certain injuries. The most common example of this is elbow pain due to poor backhand form. “Tennis elbow” as it’s commonly known as, is an overuse syndrome related to the muscles and tendons of the forearm (in particular the extensor carpi radialis brevis). The major cause of this is incorrect backhand technique where the player leads with their elbow. Other strokes that may lead to an elbow overuse injury include the topspin forehand (excessive forearm pronation) and wrist-flick serve (excessive wrist flexion).
The elbow isn’t the only region of the body that is commonly injured among tennis players. Serving and overhead strokes both place great stress on the shoulder girdle. This can lead to impingement, which is a painful condition where the rotator cuff tendons become compressed.
These conditions can be extremely painful and may affect your ability to play tennis to your full potential. If not managed properly, they can even result in weeks or months spent on the sideline. If you have experienced any of the symptoms above, you should consider seeing one of Ultra Sports Clinic’s physiotherapists for necessary assessment and treatment. We identify the predisposing biomechanical factors and aim to correct them to get you back on the court.If you’re unsure whether you need treatment, consider our 15 minute free body review.
The 2017 Wimbledon Championships are scheduled to commence July 3rd at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. You don’t need to be competing at Wimbledon to receive elite physiotherapy – Ultra Sports Clinic will have you feeling ace.