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Common Tennis Injuries and Management

TennisWe are now officially in summer and one of the most iconic British sports of the summer is tennis, with major tournaments at Queens and Wimbledon just around the corner. Tennis is a physically demanding sport with forces travelling through the entire body from the ankle to the knee to the back to the elbow.

The playing surface can also be a factor with clay surfaces deemed more physically demanding on account of the slower playing surface. Regardless of whether you are a professional or an amateur, injuries can result from pushing yourself to the limit, with some injuries more common amongst tennis players than others.

Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow is a condition resulting from a repetitive movement and is not just confined to tennis but considers anything from playing the violin to painting, where there is constant pressure on the elbow joint.

It is referred to clinically as lateral epicondylitis and is centred on the outside of the joint, affecting the tendons and resulting in pain and inflammation which can impair movement and your ability to pick items up and even hold items with your hands.

The elbow pain is largely self-limiting in that you should expect to recover following a period of rest, however this period can be up to 2 years, a lengthy period of time without playing tennis, the violin or painting.

Physiotherapy is often employed as part of your recovery to help strengthen the tendons within the elbow joint through exercises and stretching. They may also prescribe an elbow band as part of your treatment. The band sits beneath the joint and works by offering compression centred on the lateral side of the elbow to help manage pain and allow you to remain active for longer. Compression can be altered by the patient depending on the pain relief required.

This type of elbow band can also be used to help manage golfers elbow or medial epicondylitis where the problem is centred on the inside of the elbow joint.

Sprained Ankle

Sprained ankles are common in all walks of life, with over 1.5 million treated by the NHS every year resulting from slips, trips and falls. The sprain itself occurs where there is a sudden and unnatural movement of the joint beyond its normal range of motion which in turn damages the ligaments which become inflamed and limit movement.

In the game of tennis there are a lot of sudden changes of movement and as the majority of ankle injuries occur as a result of overuse or fatigue then towards the end of matches the body becomes more susceptible to injury.

Following the initial injury it is important to stop and rest in order to minimise the risk of further damage being caused. A sprained ankle could easily lead to further ligament damage if untreated. The condition itself is largely self-limiting and following a period of rest, the use of ice to help manage inflammation and even an ankle support for additional stability you should be back on your feet.

Managing an injury

The period post injury is crucial, with the RICE principles recommended by many health professionals. The approach focusses on rest, ice, compression and elevation to help manage the injury in the early stages with a view to a quick return.

Rest is essential following any injury, allowing time for the body to heal naturally. Ice and compression work to manage any inflammation experienced which in turn can help to reduce levels of pain. By elevating the injured area above the level of the heart it can reduce the blood flow to the affected region and in turn will reduce inflammation.

Should you be unsure as to the severity of an injury then you should seek a professional diagnosis.