Tennis Injuries

Tennis Injuries

We get pretty excited when January rolls around. Not just because of the fantastic temperature, frequent beach visits and the much-anticipated Australia Day, but also because of the tennis! Yes, the Australian Open holds and place near and dear to many of our hearts. Whether you make a trip to Melbourne for the game or you’re glued to the telly screen for two weeks, it’s exciting witnessing the action unravel. Especially if you’re a keen tennis player yourself.

Along with the excitement of the game, come the injuries. At times, we see the effects of injury on the court. We may also notice a marked absence of our favourite players, both at the Australian Open and in tournaments around the world. Injuries affect tennis pros, casual weekend players or learners alike. One of the best ways of preventing injuries is knowing your risks. So we’ve compiled our top 5 tennis injuries, so you know what to look out for – and tips on how to decrease the risk of injury!

Achilles Tendinopathy

Achilles tendinopathy describes damage to the Achilles tendon – the thick band that attaches to the back of your heel from your calves. In tennis, it’s the quick runs across the court, and the repetitive bending of the knees puts strain through both the tendon and calves. Repetitive stress cause damage to the tendon, resulting in pain and inflammation. Even when the swelling settles, the damage can persist and even worse if it’s not treated effectively.

Pro tip: Regularly stretching your calves can make a large difference in the onset of Achilles and calf pain. This is because tight calf muscles add more strain to the Achilles tendon and increase your risk of developing this tendinopathy.

Knee injury – Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) describes the abnormal movement (‘tracking’) and malalignment of the patella (kneecap) as the knee bends and straightens. This causes pain and discomfort at the front of the knee and can steer the kneecap outwards (laterally). It’s the deep bends, hard pushes against the ground and quick changes in direction in tennis that make the knee vulnerable to this injury.

Pro tip: If you have flat feet, tight muscles (particularly the iliotibial band on the outside of the thigh) or you notice your knees turn in to face one another a little more than normal, you’re a higher risk of sustaining patellofemoral pain syndrome. Having a biomechanical assessment from your podiatrist will identify any problems and offer solutions to reduce your risk of future injury.

Ankle sprains

With rapid side to side movements across the court, there’s definitely a risk of rolling out on the foot and incurring a sprained ankle. When the ankle rolls inward or outward, the ligaments that support and stabilise the ankle are stretched and damaged. This results in immediate pain or discomfort, with some swelling usually following. Depending on the severity of the ankle sprain, it may become difficult to put weight on the foot, and it may feel unstable.

Pro tip: Supportive shoes and orthotics are both good ways to add stability to your ankle and reduce the risk of the ankle rolling out. They’ll also improve your comfort and recovery time if you’ve already sprained your ankle.

Stress fractures

Stress fractures in tennis occur in the bones of the feet or the shin bone. They are the result of high pressure to an area of the bone over time. Eventually, small hairline cracks occur in the bone. Their gradual nature means that pain can come on slowly. This mild pain is at times initially ignored by players, in the hopes that it’ll go away. Unfortunately, with continued play and more pressure on the bone, the stress fracture (and symptoms) will only progress and worsen.

Pro tip: Having the biomechanical function of your foot and legs assessed by your podiatrist can greatly reduce the risk of stress fractures. Here at The Podiatrist, part of your assessments includes analysing the pressure exerted through your foot with every step. This allows us to identify the bones and joints that are absorbing much more pressure than normal and will be prone to injury.

Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis causes pain at the bottom of the heel that is a particularly worse first thing in the morning and after rest. Your plantar fascia is a thick ligament band that starts from the bottom of your heel and fans out across the bottom of your foot and arch to the toes. The running and leaps in tennis can strain the fascia, especially if you have a flatter foot type. This causes microtears and the onset of painful symptoms. Plantar fasciitis can be difficult to manage because you engage your plantar fascia with every step to take, making it difficult to rest so healing can occur.

Pro tip: Orthotics effectively reduce the strain on the fascia and promote healing. These orthotics need to be custom made to the shape of your foot and your biomechanical foot function to yield the best outcomes.

Regardless if your injury is on the list or is another one of the various tennis injuries that can be sustained, efficient and early treatment is key. Managing an injury soon after it happens leads to a faster recovery and reduces the risk of your injury worsening. We understand the devastating effect that injury can have on both your ability to play sports and perform daily activities. That’s why our team specialise in treating these injuries and getting great outcomes for our patients. We work with you to get you out of pain and back to being your happy and healthy self. For more information or to book an appointment, give us a call on 07 4638 3022 or book online.

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