You can play tennis for as long as you can move and hold a racquet. But that sport can also cause serious health problems if you’re not disciplined and careful. The good news is that tennis injuries are rarely accidental. Unless your opponent jumps over the net to attack you, most of your injuries can be traced back to a cause under your control. Physical traumas may happen from overuse, bad form, poor nutrition, lack of sleep, excessive stress, beginning practice without a proper warm-up, and not enough fitness. So, it’s important to understand your body and what may cause an injury. I address below the most common causes of injuries I have seen in my tennis career.
Many of the muscles in our forearm that control hand movement actually start from our elbow via tendons. Tennis elbow is a condition where the tendons of the muscles that are responsible for extending our wrist become irritated. This in turn causes a pain which is often felt on the outside of our forearm, right near the elbow joint.
Despite its name, you can suffer from tennis elbow without ever playing the sport. Like any form of tendinopathy, it usually develops from overuse of the muscles. This could be from any activities that involve repetitive gripping movements of the wrist. For example, gripping the bars while weight training, using tools in construction work.
Ankle sprains are relatively common in tennis players. The sudden sideways movements that are required from top-class tennis stars can cause ankles to twist, especially if the surface is slippery or the player is fatigued.
A twisted ankle causes damage to ligaments and other soft tissue around the ankle. This damage then causes bleeding within those tissues, which produces the swollen area that can be rather painful.
The likes of Roger Federer and Andy Roddick have been known to suffer from ankle sprains.
Knee pain is a common ailment that many tennis players experience throughout their careers. Whether playing recreational or competitive tennis, a lot of stress and strain is put through the knees with constant sprinting, lunging, and jumping.
The typical “ready position” in tennis has players in a squat and on the balls of the feet, ready to split step and sprint for the next oncoming shot. This position is incredibly functional, especially in tennis. It allows players to move and react quickly.
However, with repetition and fatigue, the ready position places a lot of load on the quadriceps muscles. This can lead to the muscles themselves to become tight, which may pull on the tendons that attach to the knee. This extra tension may irritate tendons or other parts of the knee joint, causing knee pain while playing. This irritation may carry into other parts of daily life like squatting or walking up or down stairs.