Knee Sports Injuries Tennis

Common Tennis Injuries And How To Avoid Them: Protect Against Jumpers Knee

Tennis is an extremely enjoyable yet physical sport that requires agility, speed, strength, endurance, and coordination to play. Due to the multitude of physical requirements to play tennis, it is no wonder that injuries occur regularly. The most commonly thought of injury is “tennis elbow”, however, tennis can cause injury to many parts of your body including the spine, legs (hip, knee, and ankle), and dominant arm (shoulder, elbow, wrist, and fingers). This is due to the high speed of racket swing, the torque placed on the spine, and the repetitive impact and cutting required for quick court movements. Proper form, conditioning, stretching, and body mechanics are key for injury prevention. With these precautions in place and having an understanding of your body’s limitations, tennis can be a “lifetime” sport played at any age. 

1. Tennis Elbow

examining tennis elbow in patient

How Does It Occur?

Lateral epicondylitis, known widely as tennis elbow occurs as a result of repetitive strain on the tendons joining the forearm muscles to the outside of the elbow. These tendons become inflamed and painful. Tennis elbow is typically caused by overuse and can present as elbow pain, burning on the outside of the elbow, and weak grip strength. The symptoms can worsen with the use of the forearm. 

How Can I Prevent It?

Warm-up and cool down before you practice or play. It is also important to cross-train and condition to prevent injuries. Also making sure to alternate to your nondominant hand and most importantly, honor your body and stop when it hurts. If you are unsure about your form or technique, work with a professional trainer. 

How Is It Treated?

Treatment includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and in some cases bracing. Alternating your grip can help alleviate pain as well.  It is advised that if you have tennis elbow you need to address it immediately to avoid it becoming chronic. 

2. Rotator Cuff Tendonitis/Tears 

How Does It Occur?

Damage to the rotator cuff (the group of muscles, tendons, and ligaments that supports the upper arm around the shoulder joint) often causes significant pain and disability. The rotator cuff is formed by four separate muscles and tendons that come together to support the shoulder and allow for mobility. The rotator cuff tendons can become inflamed, can tear gradually due to overuse, but can also tear due to an acute injury. Rotator cuff injuries often present with pain, tenderness, and weakness in the shoulder, difficulty lifting the arm, and snapping and crackling noises while moving the shoulder. Rotator cuff symptoms are often present in recreational players with improper serving or swing form. 

How Can I Prevent It?

To prevent rotator cuff irritations and injuries it is important to always warm-up and cool down after playing. Utilizing rotator cuff exercises is essential for further injury prevention and rehabilitation. One such exercise you can begin doing is putting your back flat against the wall, forming 90-degree angles with your arms and pressing slowly upward, bringing your thumbs together. This promotes the shuttling of synovial fluids, which lubricate the impinged (pinched) joint. Make sure your serving technique and grip techniques are correct and if you are unsure it is important to get training to improve your form.

How Is It Treated?

Treatment is RICE, activity modification, light exercising of the rotator cuff muscles, and anti-inflammatory drugs. Persistent symptoms or extreme acute symptoms require medical evaluation as tears often require surgery. 

3. Stress Fractures

How Does It Occur?

Stress fractures are small cracks in the bone that are a result of overuse and repetitive impact movements such as running and jumping during tennis. The courts are typically made from asphalt or concrete cured with an acrylic sealant; this material increased the impact on the body. The fractures cause pain, swelling, stiffness, that present slowly and the symptoms will worsen over time. These fractures can occur in several areas including the leg, foot, and lumbar spine (lower back). 

How Can I Prevent It?

Warming up and stretching is always key in injury prevention as well as taking breaks regularly. Listening to your body and not forcing yourself to play through the pain is also important and be sure not to play through pain. When you increase your activity levels, do so slowly and in small increments. Be sure to alternate between low-impact activities like swimming and biking when you plan to participate in high impact activities like tennis.  

How Is It Treated?

Treating a stress fracture is multifaceted but the most important aspect is rest. Avoid the motion/ impact that caused the fracture in the first place to allow the bone time to heal and prevent further injury. If rest and other conservative treatments do not help your pain evaluation by an orthopedic specialist is the next step as more advanced stress fractures may require bracing or immobilization. As fractures exit the acute healing stage, physical therapy can help patients regain strength and stamina.  

4. Ankle Sprain

How Does It Occur?

Tennis is a fast-paced game that requires a lot of multidirectional movement, especially lateral cutting. These abrupt sideways movements lead many tennis players to suffer from ankle sprains by stretching the ligaments too far. Twisting, overextension, changing direction quickly, and catching uneven ground can lead to a sprain. Clay courts provide a softer surface for impact but can pose a greater risk for an ankle sprain. the side of the foot can dig into the surface more easily, resulting in a turned ankle. These injuries lead to loss of range of motion, stiffness, swelling, pain, bruising, and sometimes instability. 

How Can I Prevent It?

When playing tennis it is important to wear supportive footwear with ankle supports that can help prevent sprains. Also, you should be aware of uneven areas of your playing surface that are a pitfall for ankle injuries. As always it is also important to warm up and cool down properly. 

How Is It Treated?

A sprained ankle responds well to rest, bracing, ice and NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug). An ankle sprain can range from mild to extremely severe and if you suffer an ankle injury  it is important to have it evaluated to make sure you receive proper treatment.

5. Jumper’s Knee

How Does It Occur?

Patellar tendonitis, also known as Jumper’s knee, is an inflammation of the tendon that attaches the patella (kneecap) to the tibia (shin bone). This tendon is responsible for supporting the body on impact and aids in the motion of the leg when walking, jumping, and other movements.  Tennis requires a lot of repetitive jumping which can increase the risk of small tears in the patellar tendon which will lead to tendonitis. This irritation can lead to pain, warmth, and swelling in the front of the knee. Increased activity levels including walking, kneeling, running, ascending and descending stairs. 

How Can I Prevent It?

Avoiding overexertion is the first step in preventing Jumper’s knee and cross-training with non-impact exercises like swimming and biking.  Some players benefit from the use of a brace called achopat strap. 

How Is It Treated?

Like most inflammatory conditions, Jumper’s knee responds well to RICE and NSAIDs. It is important to avoid aggravating activities while the tendon is healing. After the initial pain subsides there are some stretches and strengthening activities that can help prevent a recurrence that can be done at home or in formal physical therapy. If the pain does not respond to conservative treatments or reoccurs it is prudent to follow up with a medical professional. 

How Can I Prevent Tennis Injuries

Tennis is a high impact sport which means cross-training with non-impact activities is imperative in the prevention of injury. Swimming, cycling, and strength-training will all strengthen the muscles and tendons while alleviating some of the excess stress. It is also important to be aware of your body’s limitations and avoid overuse, especially when starting a new sport or progressing your practice. Proper form is integral for tennis players as well due to the high velocity of swings and the unilateral nature of the sport. 

Additionally here are a few more tips to help you avoid injury while playing tennis: 

  • Have The Right Equipment
    • Shoes should be sturdy, lightweight and have proper ankle support 
    • Socks should be well padded 
    • Additional ankle support may be beneficial 
    • Purchase a racquet with the help of a professional to assure weight and size is appropriate 
    • Make sure your grip fits well
    • Make sure your string tension suitable’
    • Ensure your clothing is non-restrictive and not a tripping hazard 
  • Focus on Improving Technique
    • Work with a coach who can make sure your serve, swing, and jumping techniques are safe and effective 
    • Once you have been trained, practice the kinematics of the proper movements 
  • Warm-Up/ Stretch/ Cool Down

Create a routine for yourself with pre and post-game stretches

Continue your cross-training  with non-impact activity and strengthening of the core, shoulder, and spine

Icing problem joints after a workout can help prevent pain and further injury 

  • Take Breaks
    • It is important to allow your body time to recover from impact sports like Tennis, so allow yourself time to reset 
    • If you develop pain, listen to your body and stop playing. Playing through pain can lead to more severe injuries

Injury Prevention Sports Injuries

How to Prevent Common Golf Injuries and Protect Your Joints

Golf, despite its quite reputation, is a very physical sport. While Golf’s inherent dangers aren’t obvious, players are often injured or in pain. Most professionals exercise to remain conditioned for golf but even still the aggressive nature of a golf swing may place hefty stress on their body causing a majority of professional golfers to experience some sort of nagging injury. Here in the valley of the sun, we have prime golf weather and the courses are filled with all levels of experience. But you don’t have to be a professional to experience some of the most common golf injuries.  Recreational golfers experience the same injuries as professionals. 

Most injuries stem from some part of the swing which entails balancing a powerful forward motion, extreme muscle contractions, and the “long lever arm effect” created by the force of the golf club. Other injuries come can be a result of the repetitive nature of golf or from improper form. 

Some Common Golf Injuries Include: 

1. Golf Knee Injuries

Knee pain, especially in the lead knee, can occur from the strain placed on a weak knee to stabilize the rotation of the hip axis at the beginning of the swing. Extreme force placed on the knee can result in strained or torn ligaments and muscles. This stress can also cause existing arthritis to become increasingly painful due to the shearing force between the bones. 

Treatment of knee pain largely depends on the underlying condition. Most conditions are inflammatory and acutely respond to rest, ice, compression, and elevation ( RICE) along with over the counter anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen. If the knee pain is recurrent or fails to improve a visit to the doctor is recommended.  Knee pain and injury can be prevented by stretching prior to playing, bracing, and proper form. Over the counter compression sleeves and hinged knee braces can be beneficial to help support the knee during 

2. Golf Hip Injuries

Although hip pain is a less common complaint, it can halt the power and fluidity of a swing. The hip is the body’s bridge to the legs making it integral in the stance, posture, weight shift, and creating torque. Pain in the hip can keep golfers from the course. Typically hip pain and injury arise from the repetition of golf where swinging puts excessive pressure on the hip and its supporting muscles especially if the players form is compromised. Chronic pain in the hip can arise from bursitis, tendonitis, muscle strain, and arthritis. More serious acute injuries include stress fractures, labral tear, hip impingement and loose body (bone or cartilage in the joint).  Like any golf injury playing with pain does not lead to positive outcomes. Evaluation by a professional is important along with rest and rehabilitation. These steps lead back to the course. 

3. Golf Wrist Injuries

The most common golf-related wrist injury is tendinitis or inflammation of the tendons responsible for wrist movement.  Golfers often injure their lead wrist because due to weakness or poor position. This leads to overload which causes pain and tenderness on the top of the wrist. Typically the wrist is painful at the top of the backswing and at impact. Adjusting your wrist angle can help prevent this. To prevent wrist tendinitis condition and strengthen your wrists and forearm. 

4. Golf Back Injuries

Golfers are at high risk for a back injury due to the rotational stress of the swing. It can place extensive pressure on the spine and muscles. This rotational irritation is compounded by the repetitive bending, often totaling 4-5 hours, per round. This scenario causes strained muscles, tendons, and discs which can lead to more serious conditions. In order to prevent back injuries in golf add in exercises that stretch and strengthen your back, including core workouts. 

5. Golf Shoulder Injuries

Swinging with a sore shoulder is not only detrimental to the game it can also cause significant injury.  Like with other injuries shoulder pain can come from a variety of sources including muscle, bone, cartilage, and most commonly tendon. The rotator cuff tendons often bear the brunt of an explosive golf swing. Treatment will depend on the type of underlying injury but as other injuries acute shoulder pain often responds to rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications. 

How To Prevent Golf Injuries

To prevent injuries, professional golfers follow structured conditioning programs as most professional athletes do. Although most recreational golfers cannot dedicate as much time as the professionals maintaining fitness is a keystone of a healthy and competitive golf game. Although most injury prevention focuses on the improvement of the swing there are other means to improve the game and avoid painful situations.

1. Warm-Up

Before hitting the course take a moderately paced 10-minute walk or find another means to increase heart rate and warm the muscles. After getting warm, stretch out your arms, wrists, hands, shoulders, spine, and pelvis. Also, swing the club a few times starting slowly and increasing your range of motion.  

2. Pace Yourself 

Although common, hitting the range to warm up though might not be the best option. If the body is not conditioned for the strain of repetitive swings the range may do more harm than good. Start slowly and work your way towards your goal. 

3. Build Muscle Strength and Endurance 

Strong muscles can help increase club speed and reduce injury rates while Regular aerobic activity can give you staying power on the course. Try walking, bicycling or swimming.

Creating a low maintenance year-round strength and aerobic training program is the best way to approach this goal. 

4. Regular Stretching

Focusing on flexibility and range of motion can lead to a more fluid golf swing and prevent high-velocity injuries. 

Safety on the Golf Course

  • Golfers who carry their own bags have a high rate of back and shoulder injuries, so be sure to use proper lifting technique by keeping your back straight and using your legs to lift the weight.  
  • Wear proper footwear that provides comfort and protection. Golf shoes with short cleats are recommended. 
  • Try to avoid striking the ground; elbow and wrist injuries are often a result of hitting the ground or the rough. 
  •  Limit sun exposure, especially in Arizona. Use sunscreen, wear sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection, and wear a hat or visor to shade your face. 
  • Drink plenty of water and watch for signs of dehydration and heatstroke. 
  • Keep your feet inside the cart to avoid broken ankles
  • Watch for storms 

Beyond basic fitness and precautions, players should work with a golf professional to learn proper swing techniques. Proper form reduces stress on the joints and spine while helping improve agility and flexibility whereas a poor swing increases the risk of injury.  Before taking the first swing, though a golfer should stretch and warm-up including walking prior to playing, walking the first fairway, and focused stretching prior to each round.