By Thomas Starnes, MD
Playing tennis is not only fun, but it’s a great way to exercise. Like with all forms of exercise, you have to be careful not to hurt yourself. Here are some tips to help you prevent injuries while you’re on the court.
Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is an overuse injury of the common extensor tendon, the connection between your elbow and the forearm muscles that help you hit a powerful backhand.
You can help to prevent tennis elbow by strengthening the forearm muscles, stretching and by reducing or stopping painful activities at the onset of symptoms. Tennis elbow can often improve with rest, therapeutic exercise or other options recommended by your doctor.
Rotator Cuff Injuries
The rotator cuff is a set of four small muscles in the shoulder that serve to provide motion and stability to the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder. These muscles are commonly injured from wear and tear over time and poor biomechanics.
Prevention of rotator cuff injuries includes maintaining range of motion of the shoulder and balancing strength between the rotator cuff and other muscles that move the shoulder.
Stress fractures occur when a bone has not had sufficient rest to recover from stress on it. When the bone is asked to do more and more work without adequate rest, it eventually develops microscopic injuries that can progress to visible fractures on X-rays.
Adequate rest is a key component of training, and this applies to prevention of stress fractures as well. Also, maintaining or increasing muscular strength can divert impact forces into muscle, reducing the repeated impact on the bone.
Ankle sprains occur when a force causes the ankle joint to shift, stretching or tearing the ligaments that hold the ankle joint in place. This most commonly occurs when athletes are on the balls of their feet and the foot turns inward.
Ankle bracing or taping can help with prevention of both new and recurrent ankle sprains, and strengthening and balance exercises can also help to prevent unwanted motion resulting in injury.
Muscle strains are a common injury in tennis – so much so, that a strain of the gastrocnemius (one of the calf muscles) is commonly referred to as a “tennis leg.” Muscle strains are more likely to occur in the mature athlete.
The majority of these injuries can be treated with rest and a gradual return to activity, but may require more advanced treatment if the injury is severe. Good muscle flexibility and warming up properly before vigorous exercise can help reduce strains.
If you have pain or have experienced a sports injury, visit our walk-in clinic to discuss how one of our sports medicine experts can assist you.
Thomas Starnes, MD, is a board-certified nonoperative sports medicine physician who sees patients at Mission Orthopedics and Spine of Hendersonville. For your convenience, we offer walk-in appointments and weekend hours to ensure you have access to care when you need it. If you have pain or experienced a sports injury, visit our walk-in clinic to speak with one of our sports medicine experts.
Mission Orthopedics and Spine of Hendersonville is located at 2315 Asheville Highway, Suite 30, in Asheville.