2014 Tennis Season Begins in Style at Australian Open (Dave Regis)

The 2014 tennis season starts with a bang next week at the Australian Open, the first grand Slam tournament of a season ending in November at the ATP Tour. The origins of the tournament go back to 1905 when it was first played at the Warehouseman's Cricket Ground in Melbourne.

Beginning as the Australisian Championships the tournament has evolved over the years, becoming the Australian Open in 1969 but despite this it has only been hosted in 7 different cities across Australia and New Zealand with Melbourne hosting it a record 55 times. The two occasions where the tournament was played outside of the country were in Christchurch in 1906 and Hastings in 1912.

The popularity of the tournament has also increased, with almost 700,000 spectators in 2012 and this year we are all hoping that Andy Murray can go one better than his runner up spot to take the honours at the Australian Open. Seeded fourth in the tournament and having endured a turbulent return from his back surgery.

Tennis injuries are common in both professionals and amateurs alike, with the intensity of the game taking its toll on various areas of the body from the ankle to the knee to the shoulder and elbow. Some injuries are more common than other and this article discusses some of the more common forms of injury a player may expect to see throughout their career.

Ankle Injuries

Ankle injuries are common in the majority of sports and in deed in everyday life. It typically stems from overuse and fatigue, whereby rolling your ankle or twisting it damages the ligaments within the joint causing pain and inflammation. Ligaments are the tough bands of tissue connecting the bones within a joint and responsible for its overall stabilisation, therefore any damage here can affect your ability to walk and apply weight to the area.

There are varying degrees of severity depending on the extent of the damage caused, from a mild sprain requiring a few days rest to something more serious requiring surgery where the ligaments have completely ruptured.

The majority of ankle injuries are self-limiting though if you are ever unsure you should seek clinical advice. There are a variety of treatment options available for ankle injuries and it ultimately depends on the extent of the damage but rest, the use of an ankle support, physiotherapy and surgery are often the options available. For a sprained ankle then rest and perhaps an ankle support for additional protection can be used, whereas a more serious condition could require physiotherapy to help with strengthening exercises.

Tennis Elbow

The clinical term for tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis, where pain and inflammation are centred on the outside of the elbow joint which can restrict use of the forearm as a result. The condition stems from overuse and is not specifically a tennis related injury, with any repetitive task potentially leading to the onset of the condition including playing the violin and painting.

As well as restriction of movement in the forearm from the inflammation sufferers may also experience difficulty in gripping items. Ice can be used to help manage the inflammation and pain but rest is recommended as the best course of treatment, though as the condition can take up to two years to recover fully it may not always be practical to sit on the sidelines for that length of time.

In more serious cases surgery may be required but for those wishing to continue playing the sport they love then a tennis elbow support can be used during play. The band is designed to apply compression to the affected area thereby helping to manage inflammation and help the patient play for longer.

Final Thoughts

As the players begin the 2014 season after a brief break over Christmas they will be looking to return to top form and stay clear of injury as the major tournaments come thick and fast across the globe. The vast majority of sports injuries are as result of overuse, therefore players will be conscious about maintaining their fitness levels throughout the season and avoid conditions such as tennis elbow and ankle injuries.

Dave Regis discusses the use of orthotics for the management of sports injuries, reviewing injury rehabilitation through exercise and the use of bracing and supports. He frequently blogs and writes articles focussing on tennis elbow and methods of rehabilitation.

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