Tennis Injury Prevention: How to Avoid Common Tennis Injuries
Warm weather is here, and we are finally getting back to our favorite outdoor activities. If you enjoy tennis, you might be eager to hit the court as soon as possible. But grabbing your racket without any preparation may not be the best idea. Even a few hours of swinging a racket can lead to shoulder and elbow injuries that can take you out of the game for a while. Practicing a few exercises to stretch and strengthen your muscles can help with tennis injury prevention, avoid soreness, and improve your game.
Our team of orthopedic specialists is here to help you get to the top of your game and out of a doctor’s office. Paul Rossman, PT, of Shorewood Physical Therapy, has laid out a few examples of exercises that will help you avoid a tennis-related injury and help you feel your best for a season of physical activity.
The most common shoulder injury that may occur during tennis is called shoulder impingement. This injury occurs when the top of the shoulder blade and the ball of the central bone hit together and pinch the shoulder tissue. The biceps tendon, rotator cuff, and the bursa, or a cushion for the joint, can get pinched from overuse.
To avoid shoulder impingement, it’s key to stretch and strengthen your chest and pectoral muscles. By keeping your shoulder blade and rotator cuff muscles strong, the ball in the socket of your shoulder stabilizes and is much less likely to cause shoulder pain. Regularly exercising the shoulder muscles can also help to avoid the infamous rotator cuff tear injury.
The rotator cuff is an essential functional part of the shoulder. It consists of four smaller muscles surrounding the shoulder joint that keep the ball from bouncing and causing pain. A quick movement overhead with a heavier object like a tennis racket can be a recipe for a rotator cuff tear. Repetitive overuse of the shoulder, such as during a long tennis match, can also lead to a rotator cuff tear.
Shoulder Exercises for Tennis Injury Prevention
- Cross-Arm Stretch
- Wall Chest Stretch
- Overhead Tricep Stretch
- Side-Lying Shoulder Exercise
- Resistance Band Lateral Raise Exercise
- Shoulder Prone Y Raise
- Shoulder Prone T Raise
Almost everyone has heard of the “tennis elbow.” Tennis elbow is tendonitis of the wrist and arm muscles that you use to make a fist. This condition is excruciating and can cause forearm weakness. This weakness can make it difficult to grip objects or even take a drink from a cup of coffee. Implementing a few gentle stretches and easy strengthening exercises can help prevent tennis injury and help you steer clear of tennis elbow.
Elbow Exercises for Tennis Injury Prevention
- Hammer Strengthening Exercise
- Wrist Flexor Exercise
- Hand / Wrist Extension Exercise
- Wrist Extension Stretch
- Wrist Flexor Stretch
Start Slow to Avoid Injury
When starting up the tennis season ahead, it is good to be mindful of your body and start slow. Begin with a simple 30 minutes of tennis at a time and work your way up to multiple hour-long matches. The same idea applies when choosing your warm-up exercises and stretches. Start with gentle stretches and hold them for only 20 to 30 seconds to start. When choosing strengthening exercises, start with light weights or no weights and build your way up. Only do the exercises and stretches that feel the best for you.
If you are unsure of what exercises are best suited for you, do not hesitate to make an appointment with one of our skilled physical therapists. They are here to help you feel your best ahead of a great tennis season.