Injuries occur in every sport, and if you play long enough, chances are you will suffer some form of injury at some point. No one is immune from becoming injured—from beginners to pros like world ranked number 4 Victoria Azarenka who is currently benched because of a foot injury. But stretching and proper conditioning can help to lower your risk. The most common tennis injuries include calf muscle and hamstring muscle strains, groin injury, lower back pain, and tennis elbow, according to the International Tennis Federation.
Overuse causes two-thirds of tennis injuries, and an acute event or traumatic injury is responsible for one-third of injuries. Elbows, wrists, and shoulders bear the greatest brunt of overuse injuries. “Tennis elbow” is a common injury, which is caused by overuse of the muscles that extend and bend the wrist.
There are several preventative measures you can take to lessen your odds of developing tennis elbow. Ensuring that your tennis racquet has the proper grip size can help mitigate the odds of developing tennis elbow, along with developing proper techniques. Working to strengthen the muscles around your elbow, along with taking the time to warm up, are additional ways in which to ward off the injury. Also, strings that are too tight can cause unnecessary shock and energy to travel from the racquet through your forearm.
A way in which to avoid muscle strains is—you guessed it—by stretching and warming up properly. Be sure to implement dynamic stretching and warm up exercises before playing and save static stretches for post-match. Check out our blog post on tennis stretches for specific exercises.
Shoulder overuse injuries can also temporarily bring your tennis game to a halt. Most are typically related to the poor strength and conditioning of your rotator cuff muscles. Pain from overhead motions like serving can be due to an inflamed bursa or tendon. If left untreated, the pain will increase seep into simple everyday activities, such as lifting a pile of books with the arm of your injured shoulder.
As you make progress at a rapid pace, your initial reaction might be to train harder in order to continue stepping up your game. But be careful! Training too hard too quickly can result in stress fractures, which are found more commonly in junior tennis players than in professional players. Increased stress is placed upon the bone as muscles become more tired. When this chain effect happens too fast, the bone can’t handle the stress and breaks (typically just a crack in the bone occurs). Endurance and strength training, in addition to grabbing a pair of appropriate tennis shoes, can help to prevent stress fractures.