ATP Tour Finals and Common Tennis Injuries (Dave Regis)

The tennis season ended in dramatic style with Djokovic retaining the ATP World Tour title in a nerve wracking and tense final against Nadal. Taking the trophy for a third time over Djokovic was impressive with his two set victory which takes his winning streak to twenty two consecutive matches.

As well as being the last tournament of the season the ATP Tour Finals are also one of the most lucrative, with Djokovic and Nadal taking home $1.9million and $1million respectively. They are now able to take a well-earned rest before the new season begins, giving chance for the muscles and joints to heal.

Sports injuries are common, with the majority occurring through overuse or fatigue. At the end of a long hard season a tennis player could be more susceptible to injury than at the start when they are fresh and ready for action. Andy Murray sustained a number of high profile sports injuries and had to pull out of a number of tournaments as a result, ending the season early to have surgery on a reoccurring back problem.

How to manage sports injuries

The most important thing to remember when you suffer an injury is to not dwell on the past and how it happened but focus on the future and your overall recovery, as what you do and how you do it can play a major role in your overall rehabilitation. A positive mental attitude is sometimes just as important as rest and physiotherapy.

In the immediate aftermath of any sports injuries it is advisable to stop what you are doing and rest. An injured area of the body is weakened, therefore carrying on with an activity can lead to further injury and a longer period on the sidelines. If you use a sprained ankle as an example, the joint becomes weaker as a result of the injury creating instability with the player more likely to roll their ankle again by carrying on. This can lead to a more serious injury, with the ligaments within the ankle joint responsible for overall stabilisation of the joint which allows you to run, walk and jump naturally.

The majority of sports injuries are self-limiting in that they will heal naturally after a few days. Rest is one of the most essential parts of recovery, allowing your muscles and joints time to repair themselves. During this time ice can be used to help manage any inflammation and pain which can help to enhance your mobility. Should the condition fail to clear within a few days then you should seek a professional diagnosis, where further tests may be carried out with physiotherapy and even surgery being discussed.

Common tennis complaints

Each sport has its own set of common injuries and tennis is no different. Due to the type of sport and the pressure placed on the body the ankle, knee, back, arm and shoulder are all susceptible to injury. Sports injuries will differ in its severity and recovery time, from a few days for a sprained ankle to up to a year for an ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) injury of the knee.

In sport where the emphasis is on putting power and accuracy behind a shot it can place a great amount of strain and stress on certain joints, especially the shoulder. If you consider the number of serves a player makes in a game it is understandable how rotary cuff injuries occur. From a lower joint perspective there is a need to pivot at speed, sometimes leading to ankle and knee injuries where a player turns their body yet their lower joints don't leading to ligament damage.

A common complaint from an overuse perspective which is not just limited to that of tennis is tennis elbow, a condition causing pain and inflammation to the outside area of the elbow through damage to the tendons and muscles within the forearm. Known clinically as lateral epicondylitis the condition can be quite painful and affect movement of the forearm, thereby limiting a player's ability to make a shot.

Tennis elbow is considered a self-limiting condition, however it can take up to two years for a player to fully recover. In more extreme cases surgery may be required in order to repair the tendons, followed by a period of physiotherapy to regain strength within the forearm region. As two years of rest may be somewhat impractical for the majority of players, some opt for wearing a tennis elbow support, designed to apply compression to the affected area which can help to manage inflammation and pain.

It is worth pointing out that tennis elbow can occur as a result of any repetitive task and just not sport specific, including painting and even playing the violin.

The most important thing for any amateur or professional is to know your limits and whilst it is important to push yourself, there is a point at which you should cease an activity and rest before continuing. The more tired you are the more susceptible to injury you are, with conditions such as tennis elbow materialising from continued play.

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 injuries such as tennis elbow and methods of rehabilitation.

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