Anyone for tennis? Enjoy the game without the pain!
The month of June usually brings sunshine and warmer temperatures. Then, to top it all off, there’s a glorious fortnight of tennis to look forward to. Inevitably Wimbledon inspires many of us to dig out our racquets and take to our local courts.This month, Rebecca Nelson advises on how to enjoy a game of tennis without letting pain and injury get the better of you.
Are you match fit?
Like other racquet sports such as squash and badminton, tennis is a high impact sport that places considerable force on the body. As with any sport, it is advisable to have a base level of fitness before you consider yourself match fit. The repetitive nature of the game makes injury common for both novices and seasoned players. By following expert advice and getting the correct diagnosis and early treatment for any pain or niggles, you should be back on court before long.
Warm-up: a game changer for preventing injury
For many people, their warm-up routine involves a walk from their car to the tennis court. Apex Clinic recommends gentle jogging on the spot for four to five minutes to get the heart pumping and to gently warm the muscles. Try to think of your muscles and tendons as elastic bands; if an elastic band is stretched to its max, it is likely to snap. However, if it is warmed up gradually and stretched gently, it should be able to be stretched further.
After a gentle warm-up, we recommend some ‘dynamic’ stretches to mimic the way the muscles will move in a game – such as 10 of each of the following: lunges, arm circles, highsteps and quick racquet shadow swings (without the ball) of forehands, backhands and serves. This is all about preparing the body and should be done in a gentle, controlled way to avoid overstretching.
A warm-down using stretching is also important post-play to maintain muscle flexibility and reduce the risk of injury.
Characterised by pain on the outside (or lateral side) of the elbow, tennis elbow is a very common complaint amongst tennis players. Previously thought to be caused by inflammation of the tendons (the common extensor tendon), latest research shows that pain in the outside of the elbow can be due to
numerous other anatomical causes. If you have tennis elbow that has not responded to treatment so far, it is likely that the true origin of the pain has not been properly diagnosed and a second opinion is strongly recommended.
It isn’t just tennis players who suffer from ‘tennis elbow’ pain. People doing everyday activities such as window cleaning, working with tools, or typing and using a computer mouse, or gaming, can suffer too.
Although they may seem to help at the time, tennis elbow clasps and elbow straps will only serve as a patch-up job. At Apex Clinic, we recommend proper treatment to the source of the problem as the only true solution for tennis elbow.
Is tennis really bad for people with lower back pain or sciatica?
It often comes as a surprise to patients when we tell them that tennis is not bad for your back. In over 20 years of treating sports injuries we have only ever advised one patient to stop playing tennis due to a lower back problem and this was a lady in her eighties. Tennis is much less stressful for the lower back than many other sports, such as golf, hockey, rowing, bowling, uphill running or weight lifting.
By keeping the lower back in a nicely arched position (lordosis) throughout play, pressure within the discs will be reduced and the likelihood of injury minimised. With correct treatment, the vast majority of people with lower back problems should be able to return to tennis or take it up as a new sport.