5 common tennis injuries and game-changing tips to avoid them

5 common tennis injuries and game-changing tips to avoid them

4.7 million adults play tennis either professional or recreationally in the UK each year. However, like many sports, tennis comes with its fair share of potential risks and musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries, particularly due to the strain on your knees, elbows, shoulders and lower limbs. 

If the start of Wimbledon has inspired you to dust off your racquet and head to the nearest court, it’s important to understand how playing tennis frequently can affect your joints and muscles. Read on to learn how to avoid the most common tennis injuries and keep enjoying the sport you love.  

5 common MSK injuries in tennis players 

Studies show the majority of tennis injuries affect your elbows, knees, calves and shoulders: 

Here are five of the most common tennis injuries and tips to avoid them: 

1. Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis)

What is it?

Tennis elbow develops due to overuse of the muscles that extend your wrist and connect your forearm to your elbow. This usually happens gradually, as a result of multiple micro-ruptures when the ball hits your racquet. It causes pain and tenderness around the outside of your elbow. 

How can you prevent it?

You can avoid tennis elbow and other arm injuries by staying in good overall shape, as well as stretching and strengthening your arm and back muscles. This ensures that your muscles are strong and flexible enough to handle all those backhand swings!

Did you know? An estimated 50% of all professional tennis players will suffer from tennis elbow during their careers and players over the age of 35 are particularly at risk. Venus Williams, Aleksandra Wozniaka and Andy Murray have all suffered from it.
2. Jumper’s knee (patellar tendonitis)

What is it?

Tennis players run and jump, over and over again. This repetitive strain can damage the tendons in your knees and even cause the underside of your kneecap to rub against the bones of your leg. Painful sprains, strains and torn ligaments are also particularly common amongst tennis players.

How can you prevent it?

You can prevent knee injuries by stretching and warming up before you play, practicing muscle strengthening exercises, adopting proper running and jumping techniques and wearing supportive tennis shoes. 

3. Tennis shoulder (bursitis, shoulder instability and rotator cuff tears)

What is it?

Tennis shoulder is an umbrella term referring to various shoulder conditions caused by repetitive stress from tennis strokes. It can result in pain, inflammation and instability of the shoulder joints. Repetitive shoulder motions in tennis can cause damage to your shoulder joint over time, whereas rotator cuff tears often develop from a single traumatic injury.

How can you prevent it?

Get involved in cross-training activities that strengthen the muscles around your shoulder, such as swimming or resistance training. If you play frequently, it’s also a good idea to consult a tennis expert to learn proper techniques and movements. 

Did you know? Serena Williams had a disappointing year in 2016 as a persistent shoulder injury affected her performance in the Rio Olympics and the US Open.
4. Tennis leg

What is it?

Tennis leg refers to a sharp pain in your mid-calf, which usually occurs due to a tear in one of the major muscles in your calf (the gastrocnemius muscle). This injury often happens when there is a sudden movement or abrupt change in direction during the match.

How can you prevent it?

The best way to prevent lower limb problems in tennis is to sufficiently warm up before playing. Ten minutes of cardio followed by ten minutes of stretching will help to loosen your muscles and prevent injury. 

5. Stress fracture

What is it?

A stress fracture is a small crack in a bone, which can result from repetitive movements like running and jumping repeatedly while playing tennis. Stress fractures can also result from training too fast, which tires the muscles and puts more pressure on the bone.

How can you prevent it?

Like all the injuries above, stress fractures can be avoided if you warm up properly before jumping into a game of tennis. Stress fractures occur much more frequently on hard tennis courts made of asphalt or concrete, as opposed to softer courts made of clay or grass. Try to play on these courts when you can! 

Did you know? Rafael Nadal suffered from a stress fracture in his ribs in 2022, which forced him to miss the Monte Carlo Masters.
VIDA Pain Coach can help you avoid tennis injuries

The majority of MSK injuries in tennis can be avoided if you stay active, stretch and strengthen your muscles regularly. 

VIDA Pain Coach is a personalised pain management programme with tailored stretching exercises to help you stay active throughout the working day. By incorporating VIDA Pain Coach exercises into your daily routine, you’ll improve your overall physical wellbeing and avoid injuries, both on and off the tennis court.

For more information on how VIDA can help you avoid injuries on and off the tennis court, contact us at sales@vitruehealth.com.  

Content Marketing Manager

Marisa has over 7 years of experience writing about a range of clinical topics including DSE, hybrid working and employee wellbeing. Check out more of Marisa's articles on the Vitrue Health blog!

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