Summer’s here and tennis is literally in full swing! Tennis athletes should train in a specific manner to both improve their performance and reduce their risk for injury.
Tennis has become more physically demanding game than in the past, so proper and specific conditioning is required to generate the power to hit the ball harder and at faster pace. Players need to move quicker and more explosively than ever before. Advancements in racquet technology have enabled players to hit serves at over 150 on the Men’s tour and if you are Serena Williams you consistently hit at 125 mph. Tennis players are now playing more of an aggressive baseline game taking balls earlier to reduce their opponent’s time between strokes and and utilizing an open stance that allows for harder more aggressive strokes. As a result there has been a recent increase in tennis related injuries.
Tennis injuries can occur in players of all skill levels, from the pros to the recreational player. One of the main causes of injuries is the inability of a body part to withstand the demands placed on it, which often results from either a lack of training or the converse, over training.
Tennis injuries can be categorized into 2 types: Traumatic and Overuse Injuries.
According to the USTA (United States Tennis Association), traumatic injuries account for 1/3 of all tennis injuries and include muscle pulls, ligamentous sprains and fractures. Overuse injuries run the gamut of lower back pain, muscle strains, tendonitis etc. They can occur anywhere in the body, and may often be related to player technique or diminished and improper conditioning.
Tendonitis is one of the more common overuse injuries, often seen at the elbow, shoulder or knee. Tendonitis is due to overuse of the muscle or excessive stress on a muscle and tendon. Often this excess strain is a result of poor technique. Tennis elbow is usually seen in novice players, as opposed to advanced players; it is likely to be caused by either improper technique or equipment. A tennis player’s technique may breakdown due to muscular strength and lack of endurance and conditioning. Limited joint mobility, decreased power and decreased flexibility can also contribute to poor form.
How can Physical Therapy Help?
A physical therapists evaluation will address specific parameters to help prevent injury and return the tennis player back to their game. Assessing flexibility, strength, power, and control is critical to developing a specific program to restore optimal performance. Utilizing the guidelines developed by the USTA strength, flexibility, control and stability and movement patterns are evaluated.
Physical therapists also perform biomechanical evaluation of the serve, strokes, form, and playing technique, assessing faulty movement patterns. This enables the therapist to identify the cause or contributing factors to pain, injury, or poor play. In addition, they can work with one’s tennis professional to tie their evaluative findings with the player’s injury or poor performance and collaborate on a scientific and effective approach to injury prevention, appropriate conditioning and performance enhancement.
Still have questions… call us today and set-up an appointment with a physical therapist where they will evaluate your condition and answer all of your questions.
Image courtesy of Carlos Porto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Tamar Amitay, PT, MS, Founder and Principal of Thrive Integrated Physical Therapy, is a highly regarded physical therapist recognized within the New York City medical community as a remarkable clinician, diagnostician and healer. Graduating in 1986 with academic honors from New York University she has over 28 years of clinical experience in rehabilitation and outpatient private practice and working at NYU Rusk Institute, JFK Medical Center (read more)