Posted on March 9, 2015
Tennis players experience a mix of chronic (overuse) injuries and acute injuries. The most common injuries include tennis elbow (lateral epicondylalgia), shoulder injuries, stress fractures, and sprains or strains. Most of these injuries can be prevented with appropriate strengthening, stretching, and warm up activities! If you are starting to have any kind of pain in your shoulder, elbow, or any other part of your body while you play, make sure you get in to see your physical therapist as soon as possible! To prevent pain, check out these suggestions:
1. Pay attention to your racquet!
- The weight, length, grip size, and string tension of your racquet will affect your swing and ability to control the ball. Make sure to get your racquet fitted to you to prevent any extra strain at your wrist and elbow.
- Check out this website for racquet tips: http://www.tennisexpress.com/images/How-to-choose-the-right-racquet.gif
2. Get in a good warm up!
- A dynamic warm up is critical before any high intensity athletic event. You need to make sure your muscles and nervous system are ready for the explosive movements that you will be doing! We have a great example of a dynamic warm up on our YouTube page!
3. Strengthen your wrists and forearms!
- There is a reason tennis elbow got its name – strain on the elbow and wrist extensor muscles can be painful. Having poor form with your swing or an incorrectly sized racquet can cause symptoms. Using an elastic band to strengthen these muscles can help. Sit in a chair with a band under your foot with the other end in your hand. Flex your wrist up, keeping the rest of your arm still. Turn your hand the opposite direction and repeat. Try 2 sets of 20 repetitions!
4. Focus on your shoulder!
- A lot of your power for your swing comes from the shoulder and all the muscles around the shoulder blade. You should be keeping these muscles strong and the shoulder stable, especially when swinging at high speeds. Practice keeping your shoulder blades squeezed down and back (like you were putting them in your back pockets!) to prevent shoulder pain.
5. Don’t forget the lower body!
- Your power comes from your core and your hip muscles. Making sure to include lower body strengthening like lunges or squats along with core strengthening exercises (planks, bridges) is critical for both injury prevention and improving your game!
Tennis requires the whole body to be strong, from your racquet hand to your feet! You should be participating in a stretching routine after your workouts and a strengthening routine 2-3 days each week to keep your body in prime condition and avoid those injuries!
Game, set, match!
- Erin Bell PT, DPT