Anyone for tennis?

With so many people sitting behind a desk throughout the day and being fairly inactive over the winter period it is essential that you take care of your body correctly before starting to play tennis again.

Unlike some sports, tennis is a comparatively leisurely sport that can be played by people of all ages, however if you are new to playing tennis, you will need to be light on your feet and be able to perform quick and oftentimes twisting movements.

Tennis is a sport that puts a lot of stress on your muscles and joints, particularly if you are playing on hard courts.

If you have not played for a while, it is highly likely that your muscles and joints will be sore once you start playing again and can lead to nagging soft tissue and overuse injuries.

If you are already struggling with back pain, you may find it difficult to play tennis at times and according to one study 38% of tennis players surveyed missed at least one tournament due to low back problems.

Common injuries from playing tennis

  • A common complaint from avid tennis players is lower back pain, it is put under tremendous strain when playing, especially on the serve. This requires you to rotate the hips and upper body, flex backwards and forwards and extend with the serving arm all the way through the legs.

Overhead shots do much the same thing with backhand and forehand shots requiring twisting through the lower back.

These movements can cause sudden, sharp pain in the low back. This pain may be felt on one side and worsen with movement.

  • Tennis uses the entire body including the upper back, arms and legs and are areas of common complaint with the potential to cause strains and sprains which may be painful but not necessarily harmful.

How to avoid back injuries and enjoy the sport

If tennis is your favourite form of exercise, do not let the fear of injury keep you from playing, tennis does not have to guarantee ending up with injuries. Make sure you warm up before starting so you can have your fun without causing harm!

A proper warm up will gently prepare the muscles and the stretching ahead of playing keeps them from tearing.

Also essential is improving posture, flexibility and strength.

Try to:

  • Work on endurance and strengthening the core muscles in ways that do not aggravate your back
  • Ease into tennis by not playing for extended periods of time or for multiple days in a row
  • Gradually increase the duration, frequency and intensity
  • Focus on your posture, do not round your shoulders and stick your neck forwards, rather, pull the shoulders back

Tennis involves quick movements in many directions so you need to perform stretches that target different muscle groups. Try to include these into your stretching routine:

  • Trunk rotations – these help to improve balance and body stability by targeting the paraspinal muscle whose job it is to stabilise the lower back. Stand straight with your feet shoulder width apart, extend the arms out in front and place the hands on top of each other. Gently turn to each side
  • Straight leg march – these target the lower back, hamstrings and glutes. Stand straight, lift the right arm to hip level and lock the knees. Lift the right leg up to touch the left hand. Repeat on the opposite side.
  • Diagonal chop – stand with the feet shoulder width apart. Bring the left knee up to a 90 degree bend. Take the right elbow and touch the left knee. Repeat on the opposite side
  • Hip and buttock stretch – sit cross legged on the floor, hips straight. Gently lean forwards with the arms out in front and hands crossed over each other until a stretch is felt in the low back and hips.
  • Lateral lunge – stand straight and lower the hips. Take a big step to the side with one leg, bending at the knee whilst keeping the other leg straight, hold for 10 seconds. Repeat with the other leg

Cool down routine

After you have finished playing your match, it is important that you cool down as this allows for a gradual recovery of your heart rate and blood pressure. It reduces muscle soreness and tightness, removes waste products from working muscles and helps prevent blood pooling.

This should take 20-30 minutes from when you step off the court. In that time, you could have a sports drink to replenish lost electrolytes, have a light jog, bike ride or swim and perform a few general stretches.

As with any new exercise or sport please consult with your GP or Chiropractor to check that it will be beneficial and not cause any harm.

If an injury should occur contact Heale’s Clinics and our experts will diagnose the problem and give you the required treatment to get you back on the court!

If you would like some further information or to speak to a member of our team please call us on: Hitchin 01462 420077 or Luton 01582 579687, alternatively e-mail us at: or .