Here at The Physio Rooms we see tennis players of all levels and abilities. From the elites to the recreational players everyone wants to avoid injury and missing the sport they love. So how can you keep playing and stay injury free? Here are our top 8 tips:
- DON'T OVER DO IT - a common cause of injury is simply doing too much too soon. Sudden increases in playing time or training too often with too little doesn't allow the body adequate time to adapt and strengthen in response to exercise. Tendons, muscles, joint, ligaments and bone all react to being overloaded in different ways but with a common result - pain! Monitor your playing time, increase it gradually and take regular rest.
- BE STRONG - recent research has shown that strength and conditioning work may reduce overuse injuries by as much 50% and reduce traumatic injuries by a third. You might be surprised to know that tennis leg injuries are more common than problems with the arms. Strong legs can help keep you injury free! In addition tennis has been found to create muscle 'imbalance' around the shoulder. Several studies have found that the muscles that turn the shoulder in (internal rotators) become stronger than those which turn the shoulder out (external rotators). Strengthening the external rotators may help reduce risk of shoulder injury.
- BE FLEXIBLE - tennis is a dynamic sport with rapid changes in direction. It's part of what makes it so exciting! The body needs to be flexible enough to make these movements with ease. Work on flexibility of the trunk and thorax to help with rotation. Tennis players often report tight quads, glutes and hamstrings - these can also benefit from stretching, especially after playing. Again there are some specific recommendations for the shoulder from the research - internal rotation range of movement tends to reduce in tennis players. This can be tricky to stretch but can benefit from physiotherapy techniques such as joint mobilisation.
- BUILD MULTI-DIRECTIONAL STABILITY - very little movement in tennis happens in a straight line. When your foot contacts with the ground you need to be able to maintain balance and stability despite moving in multiple directions. Work on your balance - start with simple exercises such as single leg balance and then progress to include rapid direction change like multi-directional lunges.
- SELECT THE RIGHT RACQUET - whether you're a beginner or hoping to be the next tennis champion, buying a tennis racquet can be a huge investment, and selecting the right one can make a big difference for your game. Grip size, racquet head size, string tension are but a few of the considerations. We will cover all aspects of racquet selection in a later article.
- CHOOSE THE RIGHT SHOES FOR YOU - tennis is a sport that requires much agility and body coordination. Due to the back-and-forth nature of tennis play, as well as the need to constantly switch directions when running, the shoes are often the most worn out piece of gear for an avid tennis player. Similarly, a well-chosen tennis shoe will help a tennis player to endure the physical stress of playing well. When deciding how to buy a tennis shoe, you will need to take into consideration your foot type and your play style as well as the type of court you will be playing on most often. We will cover all aspects of tennis shoes selection in a later article.
- DON'T PUSH THROUGH PAIN - many athletes keep going despite pain. They often think that as long as they can keep playing it doesn't matter! Don't ignore persistent pain - see a physiotherapist for a thorough assessment and solutions to prevent a niggle becoming a nightmare!
- ASK FOR HELP - come and see us at The Physio Rooms - we'll assess you and guide you through strength and conditioning work. We'll show you how to improve flexibility and stability and advise you on shoe and racquet selection. We work with tennis coaches, personal trainers and local sports shops to ensure the best service for you.