1. Sprained Ankle
Sudden jolting movements such a sidestepping on the court are the common cause of a sprained ankle. A sprained ankle is the more popular term for a twisted ankle but they label the same injury, referring to the damage of the soft tissue and ligaments surrounding the ankle. Depending on the severity of the injury, bleeding may also occur and this can produce swelling. The best way to avoid a sprained ankle is to alleviate the pressure put on it by wearing an ankle brace or taping the ankle area. If an injury is sustained, then the PRICE (protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation) method should be followed. Following this, specific ankle-strengthening exercises recommended by a physiotherapist are likely to be beneficial.
2. Shoulder Pain
Shoulder injuries are common in tennis because the area is subject to constant stress during the game, particularly when serving. Shoulder Bursistis is perhaps the most common injury and is caused by repetitive, minor impact on the area more than sudden, more serious pressure. Bursitis refers to the inflammation of the bursa – a sac filled with lubricating fluid that decreases friction between tissues such as bone, muscle and tendons. If the bursa gets impinged between the muscles and the bony prominence of the shoulder, pain will be experienced whenever the arm is raised. This injury can be avoided with exercises which focus on improving strength, endurance and flexibility of the shoulder muscles. Youthfulness also helps as tendons tolerate stress better when they are younger and more elastic. Treatment includes ice application and strengthening exercises.
3. Calf Strain – ‘Tennis Leg’
Another typical tennis injury often occurring in players aged 35-50 referring to the incomplete rupture of the inside of the calf muscle. The injury may occur as a result of sudden contraction of the calf muscles, for example when sprinting. To help avoid this injury it is important to consider diet; if high in carbohydrate 48 hours before a match, there should be adequate energy to permit muscle contractions. Treatment consists of the PRICE method and gradual recommended stretches in the aftermath of injury to elongate scar tissue.
4. Stress Fracture of the Back
More common in younger tennis players, a stress fracture of the back refers to a tiny crack in a bone that usually happens from overuse. This injury is normally characterised by a dull ache in the lower back and is eased by rest. Younger players are more at risk because their bones are already vulnerable from growth spurts. As this injury is made worse through exercise, rest is considered ideal treatment. Following a rest period (usually of 6 weeks), exercises to increase muscular stability in the lower back can be introduced upon the recommendation of a physiotherapist.
5. Tennis Elbow
This injury occurs after strenuous overuse of the muscles and tendons of the forearm, near the elbow join. If the muscles and tendons are strained, tiny tears and inflammation can develop near the bony lump on the outside of your elbow. In tennis, this stems from the constant grip on the racket. Pain may be felt when lifting or bending your arm, when gripping small objects (e.g. a pen) and when twisting your forearm. You may also find it difficult to fully extend your forearm. If this injury is sustained, it is important first to control the inflammation. Following this, an ice pack and strengthening exercises are often successful treatment. It can also help to wear a supportive Elbow Cyro/Cuff in the aftermath of injury.