Game, Set and an Injury Free Match!

With Wimbledon around the corner and the French Open under way you may be inspired to head to your local tennis courts. Even if you just want to have a friendly knock around it is worth preparing your body to help prevent injuries commonly associated with the sport. Tennis related injuries are common at all levels of the game. One of the most frequent is the infamous ‘tennis elbow’. This is often associated with a poor technique in recreational players-relying too much arm power to make the shots rather than body rotation. This arm-dominant technique places too much stress on the elbow and wrist joints and can lead to injury. If your work involves long periods of sitting at a desk it is likely your thoracic spine is stiff, so start to get this moving. Simply rotate your middle back in standing regularly through the day.
 
A second frequently seen chronic overuse injury in tennis is shoulder tendinitis. This is often a rotator-cuff impingement injury caused by repeated overhead and inward rotation movements of the arm. This leads to a dominance of the anterior deltoid and pectoral muscles and a relative weakening of the rotator cuff and rear-shoulder girdle muscles. Mechanically this leads to an increasingly unstable and weak positioning of the shoulder joint. Make sure you have adequate flexibility through the front of your shoulder by performing a pectoral stretch. Hold for 30 seconds repeat x 2-3 times a week to maintain good flexibility.
 
Back injuries are also common in tennis. For recreational players, poor posture and insufficient core stability may lead to back problems when they play. Often tennis is not the primary cause of the injury but simply the activity that sets off symptoms. In addition, many tennis shots and movements involve back extension and flexion, placing a lot of stress on the back musculature. Therefore, having sufficient strength and flexibility in the hips and spine is important. A core stability exercise to begin with is shown below. Try and keep your back and pelvis still as you lift your leg back behind you.When you can do this lift up the opposite arm to leg. Hold 5 seconds, aim for 4 sets of 8 repetitions.
 
Other injuries in tennis are knee and ankle sprains. These are acute-accident injuries which are hard to avoid. However, having sufficient strength in the leg muscles and developing good balance and movement skills can decrease the likelihood of a sprain. Work on your dynamic balance by performing a single knee bend exercise. Try and keep your knee in line with your second toe and your pelvis level. Aim for 4 sets of 8 repetitions.
 
If you are planning on taking up tennis or returning to the game why not get a check with one of the team who can assess if there are any areas of tightness or weakness that may help to prevent injury in your game. For more information please contact enquires@backinactionuk.com
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