Tennis Elbow and Beyond: A Closer Look at Tennis Injuries

shutterstock 181769753 Tennis Elbow and Beyond: A Closer Look at Tennis InjuriesThe 2014 US Open starts today. One of the major stories prior to the start of the tournament is that Rafael Nadal is sitting this one out due to injury. At only 28, Nadal has already won 14 Grand Slam singles titles but his aggressive playing style has taken a toll on his body. Nadal has suffered from many different injuries — mostly to his knee and wrist — over his career; this is the fifth tournament in his career where he has been sidelined due to injury. It leads many to wonder if Nadal would be the greatest tennis player of all time if he could only get his body to cooperate.

Whether you are a professional tennis player or you play for fun, injuries can always occur and ruin your game. In honor of the US Open, let’s take a closer look at tennis injuries and how they can be prevented.

Common Tennis Injuries

Overuse is the most common reason for tennis related injuries. Approximately two-thirds of all tennis injuries occur because of overuse. The other third is due to sudden injury or an acute event.

Tennis Elbow

You know an injury is common when it is named after the sport where it frequently occurs. Lateral epicondylitis or tennis elbow, is a strain of the muscles and tendons in the elbow through repetitive motions. Tennis players can get tennis elbow by practicing their backhand swing repeatedly.

Shoulder Injuries

Swinging a tennis racket and firing off a powerful shot can put a great deal of stress on your shoulders. Tennis players often suffer from shoulder injuries.

Rotator cuff injuries are common. The rotator cuff helps position your shoulder in the socket. If you have a weak rotator cuff, it can cause irritation in the socket tissues as it moves around. This can lead to inflammation in the tendon or the bursa (Shoulder Bursitis), causing pain when you swing your racket overhead.

Lower Limb Injuries

Tennis is a full body workout and players must sprint from one side of the court to the other. The sudden pivot as a player takes off can put stress on the knee joints, tendons and ligaments resulting in knee injuries.

Any sport that requires running has the risk of ankle injuries. A sprained ankle is one of the most common tennis injuries. Even the greats like Roger Federer and Andrew Murray have suffered sprained ankles.

Preventing Tennis Injuries

With any sport, proper training and condition is crucial to injury prevention. This means warming up before a match as well as maintaining your fitness even in the offseason. Tennis is a fast paced sport that requires not just muscle strength but also endurance. You need to be able to sprint back and forth, backwards and forwards, throughout the match.

When strength training, focus on the shoulder muscles to help prevent rotator cuff injuries. Strengthen and stretch the wrist and forearm muscles to prevent tennis elbow, as these tend to absorb the most impact from the ball hitting your racket. Work on your core and back to further reduce the chance of injury.

For tennis, technique is extremely important not just to win but also to extend your career by reducing the risk of injury. Make sure you have the proper form for each type of swing. That said; try not to repeat the same swing too many times in a row. Mixing it up helps prevent overuse injuries but is also more in line with how a match will be played.

In addition, make sure you have the right equipment. Pay attention to the grip size of your racket. Make sure your footwear is supportive. If you are experiencing even minor pain, consider taping the area or wearing a brace for added support.

Sources:

http://www.stopsportsinjuries.org/tennis-injury-prevention.aspx

http://www.physioworks.com.au/Injuries-Conditions/Activities/tennis-injuries

Lessons to Avoid Injury After a Long Off Season

With the NBA set to return on Christmas day, sports injury specialists are wondering if the lockout will lead to an increased number of player injuries. While many players probably remained diligent during this extended off-season, it’s very likely that some did not stay consistent in their conditioning.

If you’re active in sports, it’s important to keep fit during your off-season, and even between games. Strong muscles help support your joints, which prevents injury during sports or forceful impact while playing. Here are some things you can do to stay fit during a long off-season:

  • Join recreational sports leagues to stay in shape. Bringing a friend will make it even more fun!
  • Go to the gym regularly and continue working out. Again, bring a friend for accountability.
  • Wear knee braces, ankle braces, elbow braces, etc. – give your joints extra support depending on what’s appropriate for your sport.

Not only can these tips help you perform at your best when it counts, but they may help you stay healthier too!

Stop Common Sports Injuries Before They Stop You

Derek Jeter has won five World Series and is almost certain to go to the Hall of Fame. Earlier this week he stood poised to slam his 3,000th hit in Monday’s game against the Cleveland Indians.

Instead he limped off the field due to a sore right calf in the 5th inning, and the Yankees lost the game 1-0.

Have you ever been held back from achieving your best due to a sports injury?

Injuries are very common for people involved with athletics. Running at high speeds, lateral movement, repetitive motion and impact with other people or the ground can cause strain on our muscles, ligaments and bones.

The good news is that many sports injuries can be avoided by wearing a sports brace. They are especially important for athletes that have previously injured an area of their body. For example, an individual who has suffered from a minor ankle sprain is more likely to have a severe ankle sprain in the future. Here are some braces that can help common sports injuries:

  • ACL Knee Braces – help guard your knee from anterior cruiciate ligament tears
  • MCL Tear Braces – help guard your knee from medial collateral ligament tears
  • Meniscus Tear Braces – help protect the meniscal cartilage that cushions your knee
  • Ankle Sprain Braces – help prevent your ankle from rolling to the side and reduces your chances of mild to critical ankle sprains
  • Tennis Elbow Braces – help prevent lateral epicondylitis and other elbow inflammations that result from repetitive movement
  • Arch Pain Braces – help prevent or reduce foot arch pain when running or walking
  • Runner’s Knee Braces – help prevent or reduce the pain associated with patellofemoral pain

Sometimes sports injuries are beyond our control, especially for high-caliber athletes that put strain on their bodies every day. However, you can help prevent joint damage or protect your body from further injury by wearing a brace for that specific injury. Check out our braces and supports for common injuries and keep achieving your best!

Jumper’s Knee

We take this opportunity to have Dr. Kevin McIntyre of Burlington Sports Therapy introduce Jumper’s Knee.

Jumpers knee is a common term used to describe an overuse injury to the patellar tendon.  The technical term for this tendon injury is patellar tendinosis or patellar tendinopathy and is estimated to affect 45% of elite volleyball players.

So how do we apply our newest understandings of “Jumper’s Knee” to the athlete at risk? If a coach or trainer notices any of the above findings in one of their athletes they should be urged to try a soft landing technique, bending both the ankles and knees as much as possible to absorb the force of landing. If symptoms are present, frequency and intensity of jumping may need to be reduced. Of course, we always recommended that you consult with a doctor so that your condition can be diagnosed prior to any treatment.

patellar tendon image2 250x307 Jumpers Knee

According to the most current literature, patellar tendinosis is largely due to the eccentric load placed on the patellar tendon. That is, the tendon is lengthened under load when lowering for a jump and when bending the knee upon landing. (For an explanation of “eccentric contraction” please refer to our previous post about the prevention of hamstring strain). According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, athletes who experienced patellar tendinosis had a tendency to land with a lesser degree of ankle and knee joint flexion on initial impact. That is, they didn’t bend their knees or ankles during landing to the extent of other athletes. The study also found that the rate at which the knee is forced into flexion upon landing may be a risk factor in the development of patellar tendinopathy.

ACL Injury Prevention

Here’s a great article we found on ACL Injury Prevention from Dr. Kevin McIntyre of Burlington Sports Therapy.  What makes this article great is it concisely describes common causes of ACL injuries, who is most likely to suffer from an ACL injury, and tips to prevent an ACL injury.

Last June we posted an entry on the prevention of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. In that article, we learned that muscular co-contraction was very helpful in preventing an acute tear of this ligament. Today’s blog is going to review some of the more current understandings in sports medicine with respect to ACL injury and prevention, including some practical ways that coaches, parents and players can help identify those athletes at risk.

Most ACL injuries are non-contact, occurring during deceleration, landing or pivoting. In soccer, 58% of injuries are non-contact.  Athletes who run and change direction in a more upright position are at more risk of ACL injury.

Females are 4 to 6 times more likely to injure their ACL (some of the points below will help to explain this difference).  Hormonal changes have been shown to influence ligaments (like the ACL).  Such hormonal changes occur during monthly cycles and growth spurts.

Having “loose” joints can predispose you to ACL injury. For example, a positive measure of knee hyperextension increases the odds of anterior cruciate ligament injury status five-fold.  Greater knee laxity and increased general joint laxity are more prevalent in girls.  As boys get older there is a trend toward decreased joint flexibility and ligament laxity. Relative to boys, girls show more joint flexibility and ligament laxity with age.

A trend toward knee valgus (pictured below) has been well established in the literature as a risk factor of ACL injury.  Females tend to land from jumping in a more valgus position than males.  They also tend to land harder, suggesting less muscular recruitment and thereby less stabilization of the knee.

Prevention of ACL injuries would significantly reduce the chances of arthritis in adulthood. There is an estimated ten fold increase (incidence) after ligament injury.

Active and passive flexibility training may be contraindicated for preventing ACL injuries. Flexibility training does not provide protective effects from injury as has been previously reported in the literature.

Prevention works.  According to a recent study of 1435 female varsity soccer players, those who did the proper preventative exercises showed a 3 fold reduction in non-contact ACL tears.  There is a growing body of research validating ACL prevention programs.

valgus knee1 ACL Injury Prevention

Prevent ACL Knee Injuries