Across Major League Baseball, professional pitchers tend to top out at around 100 pitches in most of their starts – that’s 100 maximum effort, torque, twist and snap motions in the span of about two to three hours. It’s a motion that results in about 25% of those pitchers undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery due to torn elbow ligaments.
That being said, it may not be tough to imagine that swinging a racket anywhere from 500-1000 times per match over the course of a few hours can lead to a swarth of injuries for those who wish to follow in the footsteps of the Williams sisters or Rafael Nadal.
Injuries are incredibly common in tennis and seem to be trending upwards at the professional level. The most effective means of avoiding the injuries sidelining your favorite tennis players is to make sure you’re aware of what the most common injuries are and take steps to educate yourself on how to avoid them.
Perhaps the most obvious example of a common tennis injury, tennis elbow is also known by the less common but more scientific name Lateral epicondylitis. The pain associated with tennis elbow results from inflamed tendons in the dominant arm’s elbow, primarily as a result of overuse.
Though rest and ice can help relieve the pain, the best way to avoid having to experience tennis elbow, to begin with, is by ensuring you’re properly warming up and cooling down before matches and practices. Also check your grip technique to ensure your hands are positioned correctly and you’re not grasping the racket too hard, which can result in additional elbow strain.
Another fairly straightforward name, stress fractures are small cracks in a bone resulting from overuse and repeated stress put on the body. Tennis players frequently cite the legs, back and feet as some of the most common sites for stress fractures due to the tremendous pressure put on these regions when running, stopping, jumping and twisting throughout the grueling sport.
The most effective way of avoiding stress fractures is through avoiding a high frequency of high-impact exercises. Instead of non-stop tennis practice and running to keep yourself in shape, try activities like swimming, rowing, or even taking walks.
Torn Rotator Cuff
The rotator cuff is not a single muscle, but a collection of muscles and tendons that make up a person’s shoulder, allowing the arm to rotate in its socket. Tearing your rotator cuff makes this considerably more difficult and considerably more painful. Proper stretching of your shoulders and arms before matches can help avoid tears and tendonitis in your rotator cuff, as can a proper physical therapy regiment.
What avoiding most tennis-centric injuries boils down to is patience, knowing when to dial things back, and proper form. Make sure you’re warming up, cooling down and stretching your muscles out before you hit the court and you should avoid any catastrophic, Miami Open-ending injuries.