Common Tennis Injuries And How To Prevent Them

Written by Beth Marlin Lichter
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Tennis is a sport that can be enjoyed throughout life. As with any demanding physical activity, the opportunity for minor and even major injuries, exists. Many weekend athletes go out onto the court without proper preparation and tend to ignore the signs of wear and tear on the body. With a bit of common sense many of the hazards of the sport can be avoided.

A good warm-up is essential. When muscles are cold and have not been stretched properly, the demands of ball-striking can cause immediate pulls and strains. Stretching informs the body of impending activity. It is important to fully stretch the muscles of the legs, as calf strains and achilles tendon tears can easily occur due to tightness. Hamstrings also need some stretching. The arms should be worked on as well, including shoulder muscles used for serving. And don’t forget about the torso, which gets torqued, putting strain on the back and hips. Work through the body, top to bottom with easy stretches before hitting a single ball. Then start with “mini tennis” at the net before moving back to the baseline. Now you’re ready to play.

Invest in a good pair of tennis shoes with excellent ankle support and enough room in the toes so they don’t get jammed against the front of the shoe. If your ankles are weak, consider ankle braces. Ankle rollovers or sprains are one of the most common tennis injuries. Another thing to consider when it comes to ankles, is awareness of where balls are lying on the court when practicing. Stepping on a ball can lead to a bad ankle rollover.

Whatever the weather, indoors or out, bring plenty of water for hydration. Sports drinks with electrolytes are a good choice as well. Dehydration, especially when it’s hot and sunny can be dangerous, not to mention the effects it has on your game. The mind becomes sluggish along with the feet. Every tennis bag should also contain a protein bar or some kind of quick energy food in case matches are prolonged and the body is running out of fuel. It’s a good idea to continually hydrate. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. It’s too late. Plus, keep track of your energy level. If you feel a dip coming on, take a bite of your apple or whatever else you have brought along.

Last but not least, always carry sunscreen and apply it religiously. Make sure it’s at least an SPF 30. The skin will suffer from hours in the sun, especially if you live in a warm, Southern climate.

If an injury does occur, consult a doctor, but remember the standard treatment for mild overuse injuries is RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation.

Now get out there and release your inner Federer.

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