Summer Sporting Injuries – Physiotherapy

The arrival of the warm weather, can only mean one thing, the grass court season of Tennis is very near. Firstly with the Eastbourne Tennis Championships starting on the 26th June 2017 quickly followed by the blue ribbon event of Wimbledon on the 3rd July 2017.

The specific demands on the body in Tennis can affect both the upper and lower limbs, so I thought I would explain a couple of them for you.

Ankle sprains

The ankle sprain is probably the most common injury seen, due to the high intensity nature of the sport. This is due to the constant and fast movements in all directions, jumping and landing and the associated sudden increase in load and force upon the ankle joint.

 An ankle sprain is caused by one or more ligaments around the ankle being stretched, twisted or torn, usually as a result of this excessive force applied to the joint. Most commonly, the ankles rolls laterally (sideways). Symptoms of an ankle sprain include pain, inability to use the joint normally or weight bear, swelling, bruising and tenderness.


 Shoulder Injuries

It is without doubt that injuries to the shoulder account for the majority of upper limb injuries in tennis. The mechanism of the overhead action (seen when serving) is an unnatural and highly dynamic one placing high stresses on the joint and surrounding structures making it susceptible to injury. Injuries can occur to the rotator cuff (shoulder stabilising muscles) in the form of strains, with tears and impingement (trapping of soft tissues and bursa within the joint) also common.


Treatment of Injuries

Immediate treatment for minor sprains and shoulder injuries includes using the ‘POLICE’ protocol.

 P – Protect the affected area from further injury by using a support, crutches or wearing shoes that enclose and support your foott, such as lace-ups to help the area to heal.

OL Optimal Loading (as tolerated) of the ankle is important to reduce deconditioning of the muscles/soft tissues, to stimulate the healing process  through weight bearing and to manage swelling (i.e. ankle contraction of the calf muscle can help to move swelling up the body against gravity).

I – Ice to reduce pain and swelling.

C – Compression using a tubigrip bandage or cling film can be used to manage swelling (important to note that the area should feel compressed but not uncomfortable or painful).

E – Elevation can be effective in reducing swelling and pain. The inclusion of gentle exercises can aid circulation.

Pain relief medication can also help in managing pain and use of a sling may be required for shoulder injuries to immediately aid comfort and give additional protection. Following this, physiotherapy will focus on regaining range of movement, retraining muscles, strengthening and improving balance for ankles and shoulder blade control for the shoulder. Later rehabilitation in tennis will involve specific activities that mimic some of the demands and movements such as hoping and running in multiple directions, applying load and stress, working on the demanding reach required for the perfect serve and challenging balance and control.

Preventative Rehab

Recent research suggests that up to 40% of ankle sprains can go on to result in chronic ankle instability (condition characterised by recurrent ‘giving way’ of the outer (lateral) side of the ankle). This condition often develops after repeated sprains.

With this in mind, prevention is always better than cure and those serious about their sport should be regularly performing strength and conditioning programmes to reduce incidence of injury and to aid faster recovery time. This should be tailored to the individual and should include skills seen in tennis such things as sprinting, reaching, jumping, lunging, changing direction, stopping and starting in addition to strengthening, flexibility and mobility drills.

 As with ankle injuries, a comprehensive strength and conditioning programme is required to ensure the shoulder is functioning well and strong and agile enough for the demands placed upon it. Strengthening of the rotator cuff (shoulder stabilising muscles) is vital and all preventative rehabilitation should mimic the strokes of backhand, forehand and the overhead serve. Proprioception (awareness of the position of the shoulder joint) and mobility is also important

 Get in Touch

Well I could discuss these fascinating injuries for hours but must draw this one to a close. If you have or know someone who has suffered from any kind of sporting injury, please contact JS Physiotherapy where we have years of experience in guiding patients and sports people back to their best performance and health and also working with teams and individuals on strength and condition and injury prevention to enable them to realise their sporting ambitions.

JS Physiotherapy

Tel: 07814 428692



Facebook: @jsphysiotherapy

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