Keep it Safe on the Tennis Court
The court: try to avoid playing on hard surface courts with no give like cement, asphalt, or synthetic courts. Clay or grass courts are the best option. To prevent lower back injuries when playing on hard surface courts, wear heel inserts to absorb the shock.
Warm up/stretching: cold muscles are more prone to injury. Warm up with jumping jacks, stationary cycling or running/walking in place for 3-5 minutes. Then, gently stretch holding each stretch for 30 seconds. We recommend static quadracep and hamstring stretches, similar to preparing for a run. Also, the Mill’s stretch for the elbow and forearm muscles are especially helpful for tennis players. In this exercise, the elbow is extended and the wrist is bent down to stretch the tendons on the top of the forearm, similar to how you would stretch your hamstrings.
Shoes: pick tennis shoes with good support and skid-resistant soles to prevent ankle injuries. Most cross-trainers are perfect for the mobility that tennis requires. For added support, wear two pairs of socks or specially padded tennis socks.
Technique: when serving or hitting overhead, do not arch your back unnecessarily. Instead, bend your knees and raise your heels so your upper body weight is evenly balanced. Avoid landing on the ball of your foot, which could result in an Achilles tendon injury.
Strength training: build the muscles around your elbows with dumbbells. Doing curls every other day with light weights can help you protect your wrists, elbows, and shoulders while playing.
Common injuries: to avoid tennis elbow and shoulder tendinitis do not play too much or too frequently; most recreational players can play once or twice a week, increasing above this can lead to poor technique and could result in injury if they do not take part in conditioning training. A program of flexibility training, general strength training, and core-stability training can help to reduce your risk of injury.
Equipment: proper racket selection and grip size are important. Smaller heads and excessive string tightness require the forearm muscles to exert more force which can lead to tennis elbow. The stiffer the racket, the larger the force transmitted to the arm. Less stiff graphite-type rackets with large heads expand the impact area. String your racket less tightly – the tighter the strings, the higher the force and more chance of injury. The grip should be comfortable and not too small. The best way to choose grip size is to measure the distance from the crease of your palm to the tip of the ring finger. A grip that is too large or too small increases wrist-muscle fatigue, making the wrist unstable which then brings more force to the elbow.
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