Common tennis injuries and how you can prevent them

Tennis is a great social and competitive sport. However, because it’s not a contact sport, we often don’t consider tennis a high-risk game for injuries.

The fast-paced nature of the sport, continuous rotation of the spine, pivoting and the overuse of the dominant hand can take a significant toll on the body.  According to Sports Medicine Australia, five tennis injuries occur every 1,000 hours of participation.  In light of the Australian Open beginning this week and with over 1.5 million Australians playing tennis in 2021 according to the latest AusPlay data, it’s essential that we are aware of common injuries that can occur and how we can avoid them when playing a match of tennis.    

Rotator Cuff    

Due to the nature of the sport, it’s not a surprise that the shoulder and rotator cuff are commonly injured. The impact of the injury is often seen in the repetitive movement of the shoulder, as well as the force and high impact strokes used in an overhead serve. As the shoulder can be overused during a match, inflammation in the tendons often occurs, leading to the development of Tendonitis in the rotator cuff. Resulting in pain with overhead motion and limited movement in the shoulder.  

Therefore, it’s essential to maintain sufficient strength, range of motion and stability in the shoulder joint to help avoid injury. This can be achieved through stretching and performing exercises to strengthen these areas. To help decrease inflammation in the tendon and minimise the chance of injuring the rotator cuff, aim to overhead serve with the ball slightly in front compared to behind as this motion will lessen the strains on the tendons.    

 Knee Injuries    

During a tennis match players sprint, jump, pivot, stop and repeat. This not only puts a strain on the body, but it also places a significant impact on their knees. A common injury that tennis players are susceptible to is Patellar Tendonitis, which is the inflammation and gradual tearing of the Patellar Tendon.  

Not only does the repetitive nature of the sport impact the knees, playing on hard surface courts often increase the risk of injuries to the knees and joints. To help avoid injury, ensure that you always warm up correctly as this can decrease the risk of Patellar Tendonitis. Taking breaks and increasing flexibility in the muscles surrounding the knee can also help prevent this injury.    

Stress fractures in the back    

Tennis players often hyperextend, rotate and bend their back in various directions during a match, as a result, stress fractures in the back are a common injury found in tennis players. These repetitive motions can put large amounts of stress on the vertebrae in the lower back and can result in Spondylolisthesis, a condition in which the vertebrae shifts forward.    

Strengthening the muscles in the lower back and abdomen can help prevent and avoid stress fractures occurred in the back. Ensuring that you keep your core flexed during a match can help support the lower back muscles and avoid this injury from happening.    

While you may want to practice as much as possible to improve your serve, playing too much can make you more prone to the above overuse injuries. That’s why you must take the time to allow yourself to recover between practices and matches.  

If you are experiencing pain while playing tennis, contact the Progressive Physio team. 

Elin, is an alumni of St. Edward’s University and holder of a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, furthered her academic journey by attaining a Doctor of Physiotherapy from Macquarie University in 2022.

Her passion for sports, particularly football (soccer), is evident in both her academic pursuits and personal endeavors. Specialising in the comprehensive well-being of athletes, Elin focuses on restoring them to peak performance while actively preventing future injuries.

Elin’s professional expertise is centered on musculoskeletal rehabilitation, with a specific emphasis on addressing and preventing knee injuries. Her approach integrates expert treatment with a commitment to educating and empowering patients, fostering their active involvement in enhancing their health and overall quality of life.

As an active participant in NPL football with SD Raiders, Elin brings firsthand experience and a profound understanding of the sport’s demands. Beyond the field, she extends her influence by contributing sports coverage over the weekends.

Christopher (Chris) Han graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Therapy, and then completed the Doctor of Physiotherapy program at Macquarie University in 2018. Chris is currently undertaking his PhD at the University of Sydney and Institute for Musculoskeletal Health in the field of low back pain and is due to complete this in early 2024. 

Chris is currently an assistant Physiotherapist for the NRL Referees. Chris has previous experience as the head Physiotherapist at Panthers Premier League Netball and a number of elite sporting athletes in the private setting.

Through Chris’ experiences, he has a particular interest in all areas of the body and musculoskeletal physiotherapy, sports, vestibular rehabilitation, and Men’s Health (pre and post prostate surgery).

Suzanne graduated from Western Sydney University with a Bachelor of Health Science (Sports and Exercise Science) in 2015. She then went on to continue her studies at Macquarie University graduating from the Doctor of Physiotherapy post-graduate degree in June 2019.

Since graduating, Suzanne has worked in the local Penrith area in both private practice and Sports Physiotherapy. Suzanne has worked with sporting teams including Penrith District Netball Association, Mt Druitt Rangers (NPL), Penrith Valley Figure Skating Club, and local dance and cheer schools. 

Suzanne has a particular interest in working with artistic athletes including cheerleaders and dancers. She has a professional background in both cheer and dance and has previously worked as both a cheer coach and dance teacher. Suzanne’s previous experiences are an invaluable resource to her as a physiotherapist, as she has a thorough understanding of the level of physical fitness and skill acquisition that these athletes must have in order to be successful on stage and in competition.

Suzanne’s other areas of clinical interest reside in lower limb musculoskeletal injuries, spinal pathologies and women’s health.

Nathanial graduated as a physiotherapist in 2012 which saw him work in private practice and hospital settings gaining experience in all areas of physiotherapy including hand therapy, splinting/casting, pre/post-operative care, Men’s Health and general musculoskeletal, occupational and sports physiotherapy. Since then he has gone on to complete further studies in physiotherapy enabling him to be the only dual titled Musculoskeletal, Sports and Exercise Physiotherapist in Penrith.

Nathanial has a strong background in sports physiotherapy achieving accreditation with NSWIS as a service provider and working with many elite sports teams.

Nathanial has a particular interest in working with elite athletes, complex cases and in particular assessment and management of knee, hip and shoulder pain.

Andrea graduated from the Australian Catholic University completing her Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science in 2018 and Master’s of Clinical Exercise Physiology in 2020. After graduating she attained accreditation with ESSA as an Exercise Physiologist.

During her studies she gained clinical experience in both hospital and private practice settings, in cardiac rehabilitation, neurological conditions, cancer and chronic musculoskeletal injuries.

Since working at Progressive, Andrea has a specialist interest in treating musculoskeletal injuries, helping people in the mid-late stage of rehab to get them to return to sport or work. As well as helping people manage chronic conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis and diabetes.