With Wimbledon in full swing there are a number of injuries that budding tennis player’s complain of, and no I don’t just mean tennis elbow. Muscle strains are a common injury for many a recreational player. Often times players strain the calf muscle. If gets described as feeling a pop in the back of the leg and can be quite painful. The initial management for this injury would be rest, ice, compression and elevation followed by a stretching and strengthening regimen that your physio can prescribe. This will include some gentle stretching and strengthening exercises for the injured area. You physio may also do some soft tissue massage on your calf and use k-tape to strap it up. It can take anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks to be back on the tennis court depending on the severity of your injury.
It seems obvious that playing a racket sport would cause problems with the upper. It’s more common to injure the shoulder than any other joint in the upper body. The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body and requires exquisite muscular control. Injuries to the rotator cuff tendon are most common. Your physio may describe this as shoulder impingement – where a tendon gets pinched in between the arm bone and top of the shoulder blade. Your physio will give you specific postural exercises to stretch the pecs and strengthen the lower traps and rhomboids, as well as the rotator cuff muscles themselves. This problem can usually settle down in a few short weeks with the right treatment. However, if it is more of a chronic tendon problem you may be left with some residual shoulder pain.
The third most common injury in tennis players is low back pain. Think about the action of a serve – how you have to arch back then leap forward with an overhead effort to hit the ball hard. Think of the rotation that goes through the back with a hard forehand or racing to the net to stoop slide and return the ball. It’s no wonder the back gets injured. It’s more common to pull a muscle in the back or just sprain one of the small joints in the spine. Both od these problems can be quite painful but can settle down quite quickly with the right advice and treatment.
Your physio may mobilise the joints in your spine, do some soft tissue release and strap you up with kinesio tape to get you back on the course. Of course it’s always wise to do some core stability exercises to help to keep the core muscles strong and flexible.