10 ways to avoid injury playing tennis

By Physiotherapist Tracey DiMatteo

avoid injury playing tennisAs summer gets into full swing and tennis fever grips the nation, it’s not unusual to see more tennis players at the clinic suffering pain!

Tennis is a great game but can be physically demanding. Typical tennis injuries that I see my patients with, are so often associated with not preparing properly before playing a game.

So, if you are thinking of picking up a racket for the first time, or are a seasoned tennis player struggling with aches and pains that are hampering your play, here are a few helpful tips to help you stay sports injury free.

 5 components to keep fit for tennis:
  1.  Cardiovascular Fitness – interval training of high and low speeds will improve your CV fitness. Ideally running, but cross trainer, bike or rowing machine will also help better prepare your body for the potential strains of the game.
  2.  Jump Skills – or Plyometric  training  will help condition your body to sudden , high impact movements .
    Eg ,squat  jumps, side jumps.
  3.  Muscle strengthening – using resistance such as hand weights, kettle bell or resistance bands whilst performing standing lunges, squats and side steps will strengthen  the whole body. Don’t forget to engage your tummy muscles to strengthen your core and protect your back.
  4.  Flexibility – a regular stretching routine, paying particular attention to the hips, calves and trunk rotators, will reduce the risk of injury when you stretch of twist for a ball. Ideally aim to do this twice a week.
  5.  Agility/speed – running or jogging drills that include crossfoot, backward, and side stepping movements

how to avoid injury playing tennis

Ideally, try to include some or all these components into your weekly routine. Practiced regularly, they will  make a difference to improving your physical fitness and strength when you are running around the court.

Should you notice any aches, pains or weak spots, then please don’t risk getting a full blown sports injury. As a physiotherapist, I treat many sports injuries and the old adage ‘prevention is easier than cure’ couldn’t be truer.

5 more  considerations for a pain free game of Tennis:
  1. Shoes – get tennis shoes as these allow for better support during lateral and twisting movements , thereby reducing the stain on your ankles and knees
  2. Racket-check your grip size – a 1cm gap between your fingertip and the heel of the thumb is ideal when gripping your racket. This will help to prevent strain at the wrist and elbow
  3.  Tennis balls – don’t be tempted to use old or wet tennis balls that have lost their bounce as this will put extra strain on the muscles of the wrist and elbows
  4. Wrist strength /hand eye co-ordination – doing regular ball bouncing drill, twice a week can improve these. Practice bouncing a tennis ball with palm up , palm down then alternating for 5 minutes
  5. Warm-up/cool-down – always give yourself 10 minutes to do some dynamic stretches before you play and 5 minutes for static stretches after

All year training – if you are a fair weather tennis player, do consider finding an activity you can do all year round to keep conditioned such as Pilates, yoga, swimming, or aerobics.

Most of all, enjoy your tennis! And should you suffer any annoying aches and pains, then just come and get yourself checked out. Our physiotherapy and sports injury team are happy to help.

Telephone 020 8943 2424 for an appointment.

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Tracey DiMatteo

Tracey DiMatteo Physiotherapist Waldegrave Clinic