The grass-court tennis season is under way. Grass courts are the fastest of the three types of playing surfaces. They can also be slippery and unpredictable due to the softer and slightly uneven surface. When preparing for playing on grass, it is important to take this into consideration in order to avoid getting injured. The list of common tennis injuries is extensive. However, here are a selection of some of the tennis injuries that we regularly treat.

Common tennis injuries

The most common tennis injuries affect the elbows, shoulders, muscles and bones. For more information about the different types, see below.

Elbows

Perhaps, unsurprisingly, the most common tennis injury is tennis elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis). However, despite its common name, this is not exclusive to tennis. It is an overuse of the muscles that extend the wrist or bend it backwards. It is also the muscle most used when the tennis ball impacts with the racquet. Strengthening this and surrounding muscles, in conjunction with a regular warm-up routine, will help decrease the likelihood of experiencing tennis elbow. Using a racquet with an appropriate grip size and adopting a good technique can also reduce the occurrence of tennis elbow.

Shoulders

Tennis is a sport in which players constantly use their arms, and often extend them to their limits. Therefore, it is not surprising that shoulder pain is frequent among tennis players. Over-stretching when serving or attempting to return shots can cause tears in the muscles in the shoulder. Overuse injuries are usually due to poor conditioning and strength of the rotator cuff muscles. These help to position the shoulder correctly in the shoulder socket.

When weakened or fatigued, there may be increased friction of the ball in the socket. This friction irritates the muscle tissue, ultimately resulting in inflammation of tendons and bursa. In addition to this, the affected area will experience pain when moving. In order to lessen the pain and decrease injury, there are some exercises you can do. One of these is to flex and extend the wrist against light resistance with an exercise band. We suggest repeating this exercise three to four times a week.

Muscles

Muscle tears (strains) usually occur from quick, sudden moves and extending the muscles beyond their capacity. A suitable warm-up, followed by stretching exercises, can reduce muscle strains. Warm-ups should include a slow jog, star jumps, or riding a bike at low intensity. Whereas, in comparison, stretching should be slow and deliberate. We recommend that you hold each stretch for 30 seconds or more. The stretching routine should be at least five minutes long in total.

Bones

Less common than other types of tennis injuries, but still worth mentioning are stress fractures. Stress fractures are usually the result of increasing training too rapidly. As the muscles tire, bones receive more stress. If this occurs too quickly, the bone cannot adjust rapidly enough to accommodate the stress. As a result, the bone may break. These breaks are usually cracks in the bone that cause pain, rather than an actual break or displacement of the bone.

Stress fractures can occur in the leg (tibia or fibula) or in the foot (the navicular or the metatarsals). To prevent stress fractures, we recommend that you follow an appropriate strength and endurance training programme. In addition to this, it is important to use the correct footwear.

Appointments

If you are looking to start playing tennis regularly, we recommend that have a check-up before starting in order to rule out any underlying injuries.  At The Putney Clinic of Physical Therapy, we offer a comprehensive range of osteopathy and physiotherapy services.  To book an appointment, call us on 0208 789 3881.

In addition, our colleagues at Yoga Mama offer a variety of wellness classes and workshops. For more information visit: www.yogamama.co.uk.