Safety Tips: Tennis

Tennis injury is rare. But bear in mind that injuries do happens if you are not aware of the safety precautions.
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Maybe some of you have heard of the condition “tennis elbow”. These occur due to repetitive movements in this sport that can lead to overuse injuries.

Traumatic injuries can also happen such as ankle sprain, torn muscles and even head injuries.

Why is safety precaution in tennis important? The ultimate goal of playing tennis is to have fun or compete depending on whether you are an amateur or professional player.

Tennis injuries can be divided into two categories: Overuse injuries from repetitive micro-trauma or traumatic injuries caused by sudden force or impact.

Repetitive injuries include tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), rotator cuff of shoulder injury, elbow bursitis, wrist tendonitis and Achilles tendonitis.

Tennis elbow is one of the commonest overuse injuries in this sport. But bear in mind that people who play golf, swimmers and other racquet sports could also get this type of injury. Manual worker and guitar player could also develop this.

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Tennis elbow image from www.physio4all.com

One factor causing this injury is playing time in years. The proportion of players presented with this condition had an increased in years of playing.

Another factor that leads to this condition is the ability of the players. Poor techniques predisposes to injury especially involving the backhand stroke technique.

It is more common in individuals age more than 40 years old. Men have four times higher risk while female have two times risk to develop.

It is simply called lateral elbow pain in which the outer part of the elbow becomes painful and inflammed. This is due to over exertion of the extensor muscle at the forearm.

Symptoms include:

  • pain on outer part of elbow
  • tenderness over prominent part of outer elbow when being pressed
  • pain while doing wrist extension and hand gripping movement
  • morning stiffness
  • not being able to hold heavy objects in the hand

The stress and repeated motion to the tissue resulting in inflammation or series of tiny tear in the tendon that attach the forearm muscles to the bony prominence on the outer elbow (lateral epicondyle).

Leaving tennis elbow untreated can result in chronic pain especially when lifting or holding objects.

Acute injuries that might happen in this sport include rotator cuff muscle tear, wrist and ankle sprains, muscle pull and tear and knee ligaments tear.

Playing tennis seems to be an easy sport. But putting an extra focus on tennis gear is mandatory in order to avoid injury from happening.

Here are few basic guidelines to be follow:

  • Racquet
    • Using a racquet that is too heavy or too light can predispose to shoulder and elbow injuries.
    • Grip size also plays an important role in preventing injury on your arm and wrist.
    • Tension of the racquet strings often neglected when playing because the amount of tension on your muscle depending on it.
    • Do get advise from the professionals on how to choose the proper racquet before starting this sport.

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  • Shoes
    • Be sure to get proper tennis shoes that fit nicely on your type of foot.
    • The proper shoe can prevent your ankle from being easily injured as it decreases the rolling movement around the ankle joint.
    • If you are playing on hard surfaces such as concrete ground, do get a heel inserted to minimize lower back stress.
  • Socks
    • Choose socks from synthetic fabric rather than cotton types as it decrease friction and prevent developing blisters .
  • Tennis Court
    • Inspect the court before starting to play. Make sure there are no holes or crack surfaces as it may lead to injury.
    • If you plan to play at night, make sure the court is well lit and safe.
    • Avoid playing on wet surfaces because it will be slippery and increase the chances of fall .
  • Self-preparation
    • Staying in shape by maintaining your stamina and adequate tennis skills will make you well prepared.
    • Warm up and stretching session before playing makes you less prone to injury.
    • Don’t forget to perform cool down and stretching after each training or game.
    • If you are playing on a bright sunny day, make sure to wear light color sports attire and apply a sunscreen to any exposed skin.
    • Make sure you drink adequate fluids so that you are well hydrated.
    • Make sure the first aid kit is available or someone who know how to administer it is present.

References

1. Clinical Sports Medicine, Peter Brukner and Karim Khan

2. www.livehealthy.chron.com

3. www.orthoinfo.aaos.org

Last Reviewed : 22 Jan 2014
Writer : Lt. Kol. Dr. Ridzuan b. Azmi
Accreditor : Prof. Madya Dr. Ahmad Tajuddin b. Othman