How to reduce tennis injuries
1. Practise tennis prehab
It’s essential to warm up. “Always do some simple mobility exercises for the upper and lower body with rotations to activate the muscles around the shoulders and some footwork drills,” says Anna Poyser, a physiotherapist for the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA). “And do a gentle warm-down afterwards to prevent aching muscles.”
Most injuries among recreational tennis players are a result of doing too much too soon, and Jo Ward, a former professional player who competed in five Wimbledon championships and is now the LTA coach education manager, advises scaling back your game in accordance with your fitness level. “Don’t go full-on Serena [Williams] as soon as you step on court and try to whack the ball a million miles an hour,” she says. “Get your hands on a few lower-compression balls — they are less bouncy and therefore slightly easier to control. Stand closer to the net and work your way back when you start to achieve a few successful hits and rallies.”
2. Try wrist turns for tennis elbow
Tennis elbow is a result of tendons becoming inflamed where they join the bony part on the outside of your elbow joint. “It is usually associated with an increase in load, which can be a result of any activity that involves gripping and twisting the forearm, such as playing a lot more tennis or golf,” Poyser says. “Weakness around the shoulders and arms as well as poor technique also contribute.”
Pain should ease after two weeks, and exercises can help. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy recommends wrist turns, adding weights as you get stronger. Bend your arm at a right angle, with your hand palm up. Slowly turn your wrist so your palm is facing down. Hold for five seconds, then slowly return to the start. Do three sets of ten repetitions daily.
3. Protect your knees
Knee pain is the most common problem in tennis players, Poyser says. “It is usually due to inflammation of the patellar tendon, which extends from the thigh and stabilises the knee.” Strain to the medial collateral ligament, which limits excessive sideways movement of the inner side of the knee joint, is also common. “Treatment involves rest, ice and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen if appropriate. If any knee pain symptoms persist after seven to ten days you should seek medical advice,” Poyser says.
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