Every year, the last week of June marks the start of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. This tends to guarantee unpredictable weather for the following fortnight, but also an influx of tennis participants looking to emulate the stars on their local courts.
As a new participant to the sport, or even a returning player, it is unlikely that your body will be fully conditioned for the rigors of that activity, and this can lead to some common injury complaints.
If you do suffer an injury during early participation, the majority of people cannot help but think “maybe tennis isn’t for me, I don’t think I’ll be doing that again any time soon!!”. Your racquet is then hidden away to collect dust until the next Wimbledon Championships.
That doesn’t need to be the case! Even the top players suffer injuries at some point in their careers, however with early diagnosis and treatment, they are back on the courts as soon as possible.
Hopefully, with a little understanding of some of the common injuries in the game, you will not decide on early retirement if you are unlucky enough to suffer an injury.
Ankle Inversion Sprains – Andy Murray
Particularly common on hard courts or indoor courts, where your shoe soles grip strongly to the ground. Ankle inversion sprains are sometimes described as ‘rolling’ the ankle, and result in damage to one or more of the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.
These type of injuries are normally associated with significant pain and and swelling around the joint, and can result from weakness in the Peroneal muscles which run along the outer-side of the lower leg and help in stabilising the ankle. Initially, rest and ice can help to control the inflammation, but physiotherapy, proprioception (balance) training and strength exercises will help you to make a full recovery.
Ignoring the injury and returning to sport too early can lead to recurring sprains and instability, resulting in even longer out of the sport. Depending on the severity, and how quickly you seek treatment, recovery times can be between 4-12 weeks.
Andy Murray’s previous battles with recurrent ankle problems led to him spending a significant amount of time on the treatment couch and working on his strength. This has paid dividends in the end as he is now British No. 1 and World No. 4!
Rotator Cuff Injury – Maria Sharapova
Due to how mobile the shoulder joint is, maintaining the stability of the joint is very important. Particularly if you are not used to the forces placed on the shoulder during tennis.
The ‘rotator cuff’ is a group of muscles (Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor & Subscapularis) situated around the shoulder joint, responsible for providing the majority of joint’s stability. In a well functioning shoulder complex these muscles shoulder work together to provide stability. However these muscles can sometimes get out of sync with one another as a result of posture, trauma, overuse or tightness. This is when shoulder stability is compromised and where further injury may occur.
A common result of rotator cuff dysfunction is tendon impingement. This happens when the tendons around the shoulder joint are repeatedly compressed between the unstable bones of the shoulder and become inflamed. If ignored, the tendons will become extremely sore, limiting function and can sometimes degenerate and tear.
In the event of recurrent shoulder pain, you should seek advice from a physiotherapist in order to identify where the problem is generated. You may then be given a combination of massage, flexibility & strength exercises to complete.
Maria Sharapova had previously experienced persistent shoulder pain which eventually required surgery. However after a period of treatment following surgery, she is now No. 1 in the women’s rankings.
Back Pain – Novak Djokovic & Roger Federer
Back pain is another injury commonly seen as a results of tennis. We have already seen Roger Federer suffering with back pain in these Championships.
Repetitively extending the spine during the serve, combined with the flexing and reaching actions during rallies, means your back is worked hard in any game of tennis.