10 Tips to Keep You in the Match… and OUT of Physical Therapy!

tennis injury kneeBy Tom Willemann, Physical Therapist

Summer may almost be coming to an end, but the opportunities to get in some games of tennis outside are far from over. During “tennis weather”, I always have quite a few folks wander into my physical therapy clinic with a variety of injuries due to the sport: tennis elbow, shoulder injuries, muscle strains, knee or lower back issues, you name it.  Although it’s always nice to see our patients, we undoubtedly wish these “summer warriors” would take a few preventative measures prior to arriving on the courts.

As men and women age near and past 40, the need for more prep prior to play becomes a key to avoiding injury downtime (or an embarrassing loss to your teenager).

Here are 10 steps you can take to help you remain on the court without any setbacks:

  • Take a lesson, no matter your skill level. Poor form can lead to many injuries.
  • Avoid playing on hard surfaces, like cement or asphalt. These courts don’t provide adequate “give”. When you don’t have a choice, wear heel inserts to absorb the shock.
  • tennisAvoid both landing on the ball of your feet and excessive arching during your serve.
  • Kick up your cardio. Cross-train by biking, jogging and elliptical training in between matches.  It’s simple: less fatigue = less chance of injury.
  • girls drinking water bottleKeep hydrated. It’s crucial that you restore your energy needs before, during and after playing.
  • Practice makes perfect. Practice that volley or winning serve against a tennis wall prior to a full match.
  • Give your racquet a check-up. Are you using the correct grip? Is your racquet the right weight for your build and ability? Do you make sure your handle stays dry? Are your racquet strings too loose or too tight? All of these factors can lead to unforeseen injuries.
  • Warm-up and cool-down. Prior to the match, perform dynamic warm ups / stretching (i.e. butt kicks, jumping jacks, walking high kicks) and finish up with some good static stretches.

A good injury prevention program will make you a better player. How’s that for motivation?

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