Common tennis injuries - part 2
Continuing on from my previous article on the most common injuries in tennis, today I would like to present 3 other less common but equally debilitating injuries.
Like many injuries, they are often linked to an excess of one's muscular capacity to manage the efforts.
Part I: The adductors and abdominal muscles
Tennis is a sport that requires us to move repeatedly all the time and in all directions.
Lateral movements require a significant load on the adductors:
As shown in the photo, the adductors will make the connection between the knee joint and the pubis.
A term that you may have heard of and that many athletes suffer from is "pubalgia".
This general term simply makes it impossible to identify the area of pain without specifying where exactly the problem is.
Pubalgia can refer to tendinopathy, tendinitis, hernia (non-exhaustive list) or all of these at the same time.
To determine the cause, it is important to have a diagnosis from your doctor and through medical imaging analyses.
As you can see in the photo, pubalgia can also impact the abdominals and more particularly the rectus abdominis, attached to the pubis.
In the context of tennis, this injury is most often caused on the serve or any strike above the head (smash, high volley, etc.).
During the serve, several things are happening at the same time.
At the time the ball is thrown, there is a flexion/extension of the abdominals as well as a rotation of the torso and an explosiveness coming from the legs going up towards the arm thus creating the effect and the desired power on the ball.
This necessary explosiveness can lead to injury for players exceeding their capacity (overuse) or due to a lack of stability and muscle tone.
Before any training, prioritise a thorough warm-up to reduce the risk of injury.
Here are some exercises that I followed for my pubalgia (non-exhaustive list):
Tall kneeling adductor slides
Lying hip flexors band pull
Hanging leg raises progression
Part II: Knees
The knee is one of the joints that require excellent stability, like pubalgia, knee pain can be from multiple sources (overuse, bad shoes, patellofemoral syndrome, the lateral epicondyle of the knee, tendinitis, osteoarthritis, etc. …)
In terms of tennis and my experience, the quadriceps tendon is the one that generates pain on the top of the knee/kneecap. It appears after excessive use.
The good news is that you're bending your knees during your tennis session, the bad news is that you have probably exceeded your current capacities.
A period of rest and muscle strengthening would be a good idea.
As mentioned before, it is important to see your doctor for a detailed diagnosis.
As you can see in this image, the quadriceps muscles connect to the kneecap (patella).
If your tendon exceeds its capacity to store the forces produced during your movements, it can develop micro-tears leading to inflammation (perceived pain).
Reference for tendon injury mechanisms:
During the rest period, it may be useful to massage the quadriceps, in order to bring the blood flow to the painful area and promote recovery.
Massaging with your fingers, or a roller for 1 or 2 minutes can help you recover faster.
That being said, here are some exercises I followed for my quadriceps tendonitis (non-exhaustive list):
Step down progression
Deficit single-leg squat
Heel elevated split squat
Part 3: Achilles tendon
The human body's largest tendon is the calcaneal tendon (due to the calcaneal heel bone).
It stores all the forces produced by the foot and then redistributes them on the kinetic chain (the rest of the body).
As you can imagine, the tendon is under a lot of strain when playing tennis.
Service, foot work, hitting the ball, etc.
And like many injuries, overuse can lead to tendonitis.
As with the quadriceps tendon, overuse causes micro-traumas to the muscle fibres affecting the structure of the tendon and therefore can lead to inflammation.
If there is inflammation then we can talk about tendinitis, otherwise, we qualify the problem as tendinopathy.
Once your healthcare professional has identified the problem, your tendon will need to be rehabilitated gradually.
Here are some exercises that I followed for my Achilles tendinitis (non-exhaustive list):
Heel raises progression
You can't play tennis without involving the legs. As in many sports and in life in general, each injury is the product of a stimulus that is too great for the body's current ability to compensate for this effort.
Remember to see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and follow a progressive protocol to resume your favourite activity as soon as possible!
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If you want to go to the next level (physically or tennistically), do not hesitate to contact me for a free consultation.