Tennis is an excellent sport for improving one’s health, fitness, strength, and agility. It also has psychological and social benefits. As a social activity, you can play with a club or with friends and family.
Unfortunately, like many sports, injuries do occur when playing tennis.
Tennis players occasionally experience wrist injuries, such as sprains, fractures, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Injury can be brought on by falling, shifting positions, or overusing specific muscles, ligaments, or joints.
One of the more common problems that tennis players face is something called tennis elbow.
Below we explore the most common injuries that tennis players endure and discuss methods to avoid injury altogether.
If you have specific questions about tennis injury avoidance, feel free to reach out to our coaching staff directly.
9 Most Common Tennis Injuries
While any vigorous exercise, whether it’s hiking, playing basketball, or bowling, can lead to injury, there are a number of common ailments that tennis players may have to deal with.
The following injuries are reported to be the most common due to playing tennis as per the National Library of Medicine.
1. Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is an uncomfortable injury that develops when the tendons in your elbow are overworked, typically as a result of repetitive wrist and arm motions.
Tennis elbow isn’t just a problem for sports, despite its name. Plumbers, painters, carpenters, and butchers are among the professions that need the motions that can cause tennis elbow.
Tennis elbow primarily hurts where your forearm muscles’ tendons join a bony protrusion on the outside of your elbow. Additionally, your forearm and wrist may experience pain.
Tennis elbow is frequently treated with rest and over-the-counter painkillers. Your doctor might recommend surgery if non-surgical options are unsuccessful or if your symptoms are incapacitating.
2. Internal Impingement & SLAP (Tears in the Shoulder)
Excessive abduction and external rotation of the arm during overhead movements or throwing causes internal shoulder impingement.
A superior labrum anterior to posterior (SLAP) tear is an injury to the shoulder labrum, which is the ring of cartilage that surrounds the shoulder socket.
The full recovery of ‘thrower’s shoulder’, as this injury is often referred to, takes around three to six months. As long as your doctor gives the all-clear, normal activities can often be resumed within about a month, but make sure you’re not overdoing it to prevent more overuse injuries.
3. Tendinopathy – Elbow & Knee
Tendinopathy is typically caused by overuse, with the tendon being repeatedly strained until tiny tears form. It is most commonly felt in the shoulder, wrist, knee, shin, and heel.
Consult your doctor if your tendinopathy is severe or persistent. Your symptoms could be indicative of an illness other than tendinopathy, necessitating professional medical attention along with prescription medicine.
Consult a doctor if your symptoms don’t go away after one or two weeks of home treatment or if the pain is unbearable or severe.
The majority of tendinopathy cases fully recover without the need for any medical assistance. Rarely, severe untreated tendinopathy might result in the tendon rupturing.
4. Tendinitis & Subluxation – Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (Wrist Pain)
The wrist injury known as extensor carpi ulnaris (ECU) tendinitis occurs when the extensor carpi ulnaris muscle becomes inflamed and irritated.
This muscle helps to extend the wrist toward the pinky and extends from the outside of the forearm to the fifth metacarpal.
ECU tendinitis is a condition that results from repeated, continuous movements that put strain on the tendon of this muscle.
ECU is a disorder that is frequently seen in athletes who play basketball or racquet sports. Pitchers in baseball who have poor pitching mechanics may experience this injury too.
5. Abdominal Muscle Strains
Tennis players at all levels of competition frequently experience abdominal muscular strains, which are typically brought on by indirect stress.
These sometimes crippling injuries result in protracted periods of pain and withdrawal from competition, which is mostly brought on by the inability to execute the service motion correctly.
The proclivity for recurrence implies that these injuries are usually considered severe, especially for professional tennis players.
The RA contralateral to the dominant arm is the most commonly injured abdominal wall muscle; however, oblique muscle strains can also affect tennis players.
6. Lumbar Strains & Disc Degenerative Pathologies
Degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine (DDD) is a typical source of low back discomfort. Intervertebral discs, which serve as the spine’s shock absorbers, cushion the vertebrae.
Due to aging, trauma, or injury, these natural shock absorbers eventually wear down and degenerate, resulting in DDD.
Athletes are more likely than the general population to suffer from degenerative disc disease.
A pattern of injury known as repetitive traumatic discopathy has been observed in athletes who play sports that subject the lumbar spine to repeated mechanical stresses.
Due to the quick-paced nature of a modern tennis match, tennis players may be especially prone to recurrent traumatic discopathy.
The lumbar spine is noticeably the most common site of injury seen in tennis players, according to recent biomechanical research, and it serves as the focal point of motion during tennis strokes.
7. Ankle Sprains
When you roll, twist, or turn your ankle awkwardly, you increase the risk of a sprained ankle.
The strong tissue bands, aka ligaments, that help hold your ankle bones together may be torn or stretched as a result of turning one’s ankle. Ligaments aid in stabilizing joints and limit excessive motion and are very painful, especially when torn.
30 percent of all strains and sprains in tennis occur in the ankle.
This is due to the extensive footwork required for playing tennis. The constant side-to-side motions and quick stopping and starting required in this sport can lead to foot and ankle injuries.
In addition, the playing surface matters because hard courts are less forgiving than clay courts on the feet, ankles, and knees.
8. Meniscal Knee Injuries
Meniscal knee injury is a typical tennis injury in which the knee’s specific tissue tears as a result of a severe twist.
The meniscus, a springy knee cartilage that protects the shinbone from the thighbone, tears. When the knee is violently rotated or twisted, the meniscus may be torn.
Symptoms include knee pain, edema, stiffness, and trouble extending the knee.
Physical therapy, ice, rest, and painkillers are all used as treatments. Surgery may be necessary less frequently.
9. Hip Injuries
Tennis hip is a common injury that happens due to the twisting and pivoting movements used during tennis play, which puts a lot of stress on the joint.
Tennis hip also has its own set of symptoms. Tennis players will experience persistent hip discomfort as well as stiffness in the joint.
Until fully recovered, players may find it difficult to move in some directions due to hip stiffness or discomfort.
How to Prevent Injury Playing Tennis
Tennis players are continually moving, despite the fact that it is not a contact sport. For serious tennis players, moving back and forth, left to right, or bouncing up and down are some typical actions.
There are advantages to constant motion and patterns, including heart health and weight loss. Tennis helps people stay active. These similar motions may eventually be the source of persistent pain, though.
In order to avoid injury and associated pain, follow as many of the following tips as you can.
1. Properly Warm-Up & Stretch
Tennis elbow and other sports injuries can be prevented during practice and match play with dynamic stretching, warm-up, and cool-down sessions.
Stretching and practicing tennis strokes can help establish your technique and prepare your body.
By warming up before each training session or match, your muscles are loose and less likely to tear or be strained.
2. Use Appropriate Equipment & Quality-Made Gear
Proper tennis equipment and gear can lessen injury risk.
The right footwear helps avoid knee and ankle injuries. Tennis shoes should fit properly, support your arches and ankles, and match the court surface. Clay court shoes have better traction than hard court shoes.
Use the correct grip size for your tennis racket and a lower string tension to prevent tennis elbow or wrist problems.
3. Rest Regularly & Don’t Overexert Yourself
Take frequent rests to prevent overuse injuries from repetitive motion. This recovery time minimizes overexertion and muscular strains.
4. Exercise Common Injury Areas
Tennis involves full-body participation. Full-body exercise helps prevent injuries.
Exercising your rotator cuff can improve strength and support, increasing your range of motion and reducing the risk of tearing during intensive activity.
5. Use Wraps & Braces to Support Your Body
A knee brace or ankle brace helps support and stabilize painful joints. With tennis, these supports can avoid additional injury by providing extra strength when needed.