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.
How to treat it
1) Stand side-on to a mirror and observe how your shoulder moves as you lift your arm. It should stay in position as you lift your arm. However, if the whole shoulder moves forwards with the arm you will need to do exercises to train the stability muscles of your shoulder blade. Go here to learn how to do them.
2) You need to train the extensor muscles of the elbow using eccentric movements. Find out how to do those here.
3) Improving your overall technique and strength will make tennis elbow less likely to return. For example, engaging your glutes – which provides more power for serving – can take some of the strain off your elbow.
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.
How to treat
1) Improve your proprioception with this exercise.
2) Do this exercise to improve your calf strength alignment.
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.
How to treat
1) Train your deep core stability with these exercises.
2) Use these exercises to increase the range of motion in your spine.