Common Tennis Injuries (Dave Regis)

2013 has seen some of the greatest British tennis in history, most notably with Andy Murray taking his first Wimbledon title to become the first Britain to win the coveted grand slam in 77 years. It was a remarkable achievement which has encouraged many to get back on the courts, with tennis clubs across the country benefiting from increased footfall and membership applications.

Tennis, as with every other sport, has a list of common injuries sustained by players. Andy Murray has been plagued with injury before his Wimbledon triumph and even had to end the season early to undergo surgery on a trapped nerve in his lower back.

For professional sportsman injuries are more than just an inconvenience, with tennis players being forced to miss key grand slam tournaments and having to wait another twelve months before being able to compete. The tennis season may be quite long but any sports injuries resulting in a couple of months on the sidelines can have a major impact on your overall success for the season.

Tennis Elbow

Known as lateral epicondylitis, tennis elbow occurs as a result of overuse and affects the muscles surrounding the elbow. Players may complain of pain centred on the outside of the elbow which can also become inflamed and affect the overall movement of the joint.

The condition can result in the player feeling pain when moving their arm, whether lifting or bending it and can even result in difficulty in gripping items. The inflammation caused from the tennis elbow can be managed using ice, which can also help to address any pain felt during recovery.

Whilst the name may suggest that tennis elbow only occurs as a result of playing too much tennis this is not the case. Tennis elbow can occur as a result of undertaking any repetitive task, including painting and even from playing the violin.

It is important to differentiate tennis elbow from that of golfer's elbow in that whilst the conditions are similar, the latter sees pain being focussed on the inside of the elbow. The treatments for both however are largely the same.

Tennis elbow is a self-limiting condition in that it will get better in time, though can take two years before a full recovery is made. It is important to note that if you believe you are suffering from tennis elbow you cease your activity to prevent further damage as in more serious cases surgery may be required.

Shoulder Injuries

Due to the nature of tennis, shoulder injuries can be quite common with an enormous amount of strain being placed on the joint during a player's career. With players capable of hitting a tennis ball over 140mph you can imagine the amount of pressure being placed on the shoulder joint to continually achieve this.

One of the more common forms of shoulder injury encountered is Shoulder Bursitis and occurs as a result of overuse. The inflammation of the Bursa can lead to difficulties in rotating the shoulder and hampering a player's ability to play effectively.

Ankle injuries

High active sports can lead to ankle injuries, with an enormous amount of pressure being placed on the ankle joints. In considering tennis a player is required to sprint at full speed over short distances and pivot quickly to make the shots they need.

We saw at Wimbledon a number of ankle injuries occurring as a result of players slipping on the court, with many complaining they were too slippy. This may have been the case, but such a sport will have an impact on the ankle joint and can lead to injury.

Ankle injuries occur when there is damage to the ligaments, typically from the joint rolling. Ligaments are the tough bands of tissue which connect the bones and are responsible for stability of the joint. A sprained ankle is because there is damage to the ligaments surrounding the joint and we all know the impact this has on being able to walk, let alone run around a tennis court.

A sprained ankle is one of the more common ankle injuries experienced and with a few days of rest and ice to manage any inflammation a player will be back out on court. In more serious cases however ligament damage can result in a lengthy layoff and if surgery is required you can expect to miss the entire season. Surgery will only typically be considered as a last resort and may involve stitching the ligaments back together.

As ankle injuries go, ligament damage is something to avoid as not only can it be very painful but following surgery you will require an extensive physiotherapy programme to rebuild strength in the joint before you're capable of competing once again.

As players continually push themselves to achieve on the court, protecting themselves from injury can sometimes be at the back of their mind. What is important to remember with any injury, from overuse conditions such as tennis elbow to ankle injuries resulting from slips and trips is to stop and rest. If you continue to play or remain active after an injury then you are in danger or making things worse, which can increase your recovery time. If you are ever in doubt as to the severity of an injury you should speak with a clinician.

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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