Stay healthy and safe on the tennis court
This year is looking up. Our daily lives are slowly returning to normal, the warmer weather is here and we are grabbing our racquets and hitting the tennis courts. However, with the rush to get out there and start playing, is your body truly ready for the demands of our beloved game? If not, you run the risk of sustaining an injury. Being injured is no fun. In addition to the pain, we can be out of the game for an extended amount of time.
Remember the phrase “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” We should aim to prevent injury to preserve the body and not lose any time on the court.
What can be done to reduce the risk of an injury? Before we review ways to prevent injury, let’s look at two of the most common injuries tennis players experience – tennis elbow and knee issues.
Tips to keep injury out of your game:
Tennis elbow is the weakening of the tendons that join your forearm muscles to your bone. It’s typically caused by repetitive motion, like painting or lifting objects. But for tennis players, tennis elbow can be caused by the stress of hitting the ball, incorrect form, incorrect racquet grip size, or having a racquet that is strung too tight. If you would like more information and tips on tennis elbow, check out our previous article, Doctor’s Tips for Tennis Elbow.
Knee injuries can affect any area around the knee including the ligaments, bursae (fluid sacs located near major joints), tendons, cartilage, menisci (plural for meniscus), and the bones forming the knee joint. Because our knees are complicated, a knee injury can be caused by any number of factors such as inappropriate shoes and moving when our bodies aren’t warmed up. Visit our previous article, Doctor’s Tips for Knee Pain for more information on knee issues and to help keep injury out of your game.
Now that we know a little bit more about common tennis injuries, let’s look at how we can prevent them. Here are a few tips that you can use that are simple and effective:
Prevent common tennis injuries:
- Warm-up your body before you play. Warming up increases your body temperature and blood flow to your muscles and reduces tension. Reduced muscle tension can decrease your risk of injury. You should aim to warm up for at least 5 minutes before you play and can start with jogging around the court. For additional tips on warming up and preparing to play, check out our post from a fitness trainer, LaRue Cook.
- Stretching before and after you play. So many players skip stretching. But stretching improves mobility, relieves tension, and reduces soreness. A few quick stretches you can perform are thigh stretch, cross body shoulder/arm stretch, hamstring stretch, and calf stretch. Remember to hold each stretch between 15 and 20 seconds without bouncing.
- Strength training not only improves fitness and performance but also protects your joints, ligaments, and tendons from injury. Aim to strengthen the major parts of the body – arms, legs, and core. Simple strength exercises include walking uphill or upstairs, biking, push-ups, triceps dips, and plank.
Getting to the technical aspects:
- Having the appropriate gear will help to reduce your risk of injury. Your tennis sneakers should not only fit you properly but be supportive enough to suit your style of play. When it comes to your racquet, consult your coach or tennis professional on choosing the right racquet and string tension for your skill and strength. Check out our post on the latest gear for 2021.
- Taking the time to learn proper technique. Incorrect technique can cause you to stress and strain while hitting the ball which in turn can lead to an increased risk of injury. Learning good form will allow you to move effectively while minimizing injury. A certified tennis pro can help you.
We know that not all injuries are avoidable. However, investing in injury prevention will help to keep injury out of your game and you healthy on and off the court.
USTA Mid-Atlantic Section has lots of opportunities for you to play tennis in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and eastern and southern West Virginia. Visit us and see what’s available near you! And make sure you are following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
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