Tennis Wrist Injuries, Causes, Prevention, Treatment
Wrist injuries from tennis are just as common as tennis elbow. Like tennis elbow, wrist injuries are usually caused by overuse of the tendons in the wrist and poor technique. Tennis players who use lots of spin on their shots or the western forehand grip are more susceptible to wrist injuries. The injury usually appears as a hot swelling, redness around the wrist joint, and pain from wrist movement. If such symptoms occur, the player should stop the activity, cool the wrist with ice, and stabilize it with a wristband or tape.
After initial treatment and the swelling goes down, players should reduce the frequency and intensity of their play while they recover. The following exercises can promote faster recovery. Players should strengthen both wrists equally for recovery and injury prevention.
- Start with a light weight (maximum 1kg). Support the forearm with a slightly fixed elbow on the knee, palm of the hand facing up, move the wrist up and down from a neutral position (2-3 sets of 10-20 reps)
- Support the forearm with a slightly bent elbow on the knee, but now with the palm facing down. Move the wrist up and down from a neutral position. (2-3 sets and 10-20 reps) At first, it may be enough to simply hold the weight without moving the wrist.
- Support the elbow on the knee, palm facing down and light weight in the hand. Move the hand to the left and right. From the starting position, rotate the hand clockwise and counter clockwise.
- Squeeze an older, softer ball. (3 sets of 10-20 reps)
Once the wrist heals and is strengthened enough to be able to play, players should ease back into the game slowly, starting with low frequency and intensity. It is highly recommended to start with a friendly rally at the half court mark using only simple forehands and backhands. As the wrist heals further, players can ease into slice backhands and single-handed backhands at the baseline, until they can finally get into volleys, service, and overhead shots.
To prevent re-injury, players should maintain their strengthening exercises, and remember to warm up and cool down completely before and after playing. Each warm-up and cool-down session should take about 15 minutes.
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