One of the most popular sports in today’s society is without a doubt, tennis. This is truly an activity that is open to the masses as participants range from private club members to the millions who utilize the free courts found in parks worldwide. One of the attractions is the simplicity of the game and the ease at which beginners can become acclimated to its nuances. However, as with most athletic endeavors, this racquet sport carries a potential for danger and injuries.
It should be mentioned that serious injuries in tennis are extremely rare but they do occur. However, minor and nagging injuries are very common and can include sprained ankles, knees, fingers and back strains. Undoubtedly, the most common injury associated with the sport is an affliction termed ‘tennis elbow’. This is simply an inflammation of the elbow ligament from the chronic swinging of the racquet and is categorized as a cumulative injury. In other words, it is the result of overuse.
In this article, we will take a look at some safety tips when playing tennis that will help you avoid both minor and traumatic injuries.
Tennis Gear Guidelines
Most people never consider that the equipment that they use may make a difference in the prevention of injuries. Tennis gear includes such things as your shoes, socks and racquet. Let’s take a look at a few things to consider when choosing your tennis gear.
- Shoes: There are literally thousands of types of shoes to choose from in the athletic realm, but it is essential to choose those that were actually designed for tennis. These shoes are built to support your heel and to provide excellent ankle support to prevent the common syndrome of rolling. In addition, they also serve to eliminate side to slide sliding which eventually will lead to the breakdown of your feet and ankles. One last thing to remember is that if you intend to play on a concrete surface, invest in a good pair of heel inserts to prevent the inevitable stress on your back that tennis brings.
- Racquet: Tennis racquets can range in prices from ten dollars to several thousand. What truly matters is finding one that is not overly heavy or light as both can lead to shoulder and elbow problems. Additionally, your racquet should have a grip that is the correct size for your hand and the string tension should not be too tight. This is an extremely important factor and should not be taken lightly. Find a professional who will ensure that you get the correct racquet for your skill level and physical size.
- Socks: Never use cotton socks when playing tennis as it will retain moisture and lead to painful blisters. To help prevent ankle sprains, it is a good idea to wear two pairs of socks.
Pre Tennis Routine
Prior to playing tennis, it is imperative to follow a routine that will assure a high probability of avoiding minor strains and sprains. Below are the steps:
1. Always warm up before taking the court.
A warm up consists of a minimum of five minutes of aerobic activity including jogging in place, jumping rope, calisthenics etc. This serves to send blood to the muscles helping to ‘warm’ them for the activity to follow.
2. Stretch thoroughly after the warm up.
Start with the upper body and work your way down. Hold each stretch a minimum of 10 seconds.
3. Inspect the court carefully where you will be playing.
Check for holes or cracks that could potentially trip your or a partner. Look for loose impediments including tennis balls, trash, mulch etc. on or near the court. Always avoid a wet court regardless of the surface as slipping is one of the leading causes of tennis injuries.
Also, never play at night unless the court is extremely well lit. If you are playing during the daytime, ensure that you have plenty of water on hand and also sunscreen. Wearing a hat and light colored clothing will also act to help keep the body cool.
4. Upon entering the court, begin hitting lightly, not full force.
Allow your body to gradually acclimate itself to the bending, turning, twisting, and swinging that is required for tennis.
Many tennis injuries occur as a result of poor techniques by a player. It is imperative to learn to play correctly which will not only help prevent injuries but guarantee that you will become a much better player and enjoy the game more!
- Don’t arch your back. Serving can be very hard on the low back. Take care not to arch your back during the serve; instead concentrate on the knee bend and the heel raise. Another example would be to never land on the balls of your feet as it puts too much stress on the Achilles tendon.Again, it is important to learn the techniques via lessons or other methods as a preventative measure.
- Keeping plenty of room. Injuries most often occur during doubles. Make sure that there is always plenty of room between your partner and yourself. Also, stay clear of wayward serves by moving as far to the side of the court as possible when he or she is serving.
- Take time to rest. Other problems include not resting between games and not properly drying your hands when they become wet with perspiration. Sweat can actually cause severe blisters on your hands as you continue to grip the racquet.
- Remember not to be tough when you feel pain. When this occurs, it is time to stop playing immediately. Never start again until you are 100% recovered.
- Never play in adverse weather condition. Hot weather is a precursor to heat exhaustion or even a heat stroke. Cold weather lends itself to stiff muscles and invariably sprains and tears. Even windy weather should be avoided as it can lead to an increased chance of tendonitis.
Tennis is a fantastic game that is loved my millions. However, without taking the proper precautions, it could be a dangerous place with the potential for mild to severe injury. Follow the safety tips outlined in this guide and start enjoying the greatest game ever invented!
Rose is a health buff and a sports enthusiast. Her articles are mostly inspired by personal experiences. Get more news and interesting information about sports injury and therapies at Sports Med.