Inspired by Andy Murray’s Wimbledon victory, people are dusting off their rackets and heading to the courts. But remember, although tennis may not seem the most arduous of sports, it can put a huge amount of strain on the body, especially if you haven’t played in a while.
This is an irritation of the tendon that runs over the bony bit of your elbow. The pain comes on slowly – usually a few hours after playing – and, as it worsens, starts to make itself known during games or when performing lifting and twisting actions such as pouring from a kettle or opening a heavy door. The main cause for it is the twisting movement required to create topspin. To treat the injury properly you need to address the stability of your shoulder because inefficient shoulder movement exerts more strain on the elbow. For that reason, treatment should never focus purely on the elbow itself.
Ankle injuries were particularly prevalent on the slippery surfaces of Wimbledon this year. The risk of ankle injuries – which range from ligament sprains to tendon problems and fractures – can be reduced by training the stability muscles of your ankles and legs and improving proprioception, ie your ability to control the position of your arms and legs without having to look at them.
Back pain and injury
Back injuries can destroy any tennis player’s game, whether you are a social player or a serious competitor. Common back injuries are muscle strains, facet joint injuries and damage to the intervertebral discs. Disc injuries include prolapses that can irritate the nerves of the spine and, in the worst case, the spinal cord, which you would need to have treated properly by a physiotherapist.
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Lucy Macdonald has been a sports physiotherapist since 2004, with experience treating professional and amateur sports people including members of the GB ski and powerlifting teams.