Injury Prevention in Tennis

Every summer, it’s time to get out your tennis shoes and racquets. It’s vital to make sure that both you and your kit are properly prepared to prevent unnecessary injury. So here are some tips and advice to help guide you:

 

Tennis Top Tips

  • Practice hitting the ball in the “sweet spot”, the shot feels good and the impact force will be at a minimum.
  • Improve your stroking technique, especially backhand
  • Modern racquets do not absorb shock like the old ones. To reduce the impact on your arm:-
    – Lower string tension
    – Increase flexibility of racquet
    – Increase racquet head size
    – Add lead tape to the head to increase weight
    – Increase grip size. The optimum grip circumference equals the distance from the tip of the ring finger to the crease in the middle of the palm (proximal crease)

– Grip higher up handle
– Loosen grip on handle

  • Play on an appropriate surface. If you play on a hard surface the forces through the joints are much higher:  twice your body weight when walking, 3 to 4 times on running and 12 times on jumping. Very dry and hard surfaces can also cause twisting ligament injuries to the knees, due to the increased friction between your shoes and the ground.
  • Get a biomechanical assessment and if you need them purchase bespoke high quality orthotics. Make sure your footwear is appropriate.
  • Train at an intensity lower than competitive conditions to reduce the chance of injury
  • Reduce the total amount of weight bearing exercise. Do some cross training to reduce impact loading, while maintaining training volume.
  • Mix training sessions with different activities. I.e. cycling, swimming.
  • Set up a training diary recording rest days, sleep, heart rate and heart rate recovery time.
  •  If the morning your heart rate increases, decrease activity plus add in more relaxation time, and spend more time on cool down post activity.
  • Eat healthily and adjust your calorie intake to activity level. Take carbs for fuel, protein for rebuilding muscle, high quality vitamin & mineral supplements and drink plenty of water.
  • Enjoy the stress relief exercise can bring and don’t force yourself if you are exhausted as this is when you are most likely to get injured.
  • Get regular sports massage to remove trouble spots before they become injuries.
  • If in doubt see a sports physiotherapist

Warming Up and Cooling Down

Warming up is often overlooked and should be part of your injury prevention routine as there are a number of benefits:

  • The muscles work better when warm and oxygenated with good blood flow.
  • The joints become more flexible which reduces the pull on muscles.
  • The nervous system becomes more responsive.

Including a gentle jog in your warm up will give the muscles the energy supply they need to work properly. Follow this with sport specific exercises and dynamic, sport specific stretching drills. This regime has largely replaced old fashioned static alternatives.

Examples of tennis specific exercises are running for 5 to 20 minutes with heels up to buttocks, or with high knees up to hip level.  Increasing the size and speed of movements, as the body warms up and the heart rate increases, will more closely simulate competitive conditions. It is also important to focus on full body conditioning, as predominantly one sided sports, such as tennis, can cause muscle imbalances.

You should allow a total exercise and stretch time of 15 to 30 minutes and no more than 30 minutes before competing, otherwise the benefits will be lost.

Cool down should include a gentle jog plus light stretching to help eliminate waste products and reduce muscle soreness.

If you need help contact the clinic on 01889 881488 and see a physiotherapist or visit www.painreliefclinic.co.uk

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