There is one injury tennis players suffer from which in so pervasive that the medical profession named a syndrome after it. Pain on the outside of the elbow made worse with gripping the racket and hitting the ball particularly on the backhand is called tennis elbow. The pain is fairly localized and there maybe a very tender spot on pressure. For many years this condition was considered inflammatory in nature however surgery reveals little sign of such inflammation but did reveal degenerative changes. What this means is that it is not a condition of normal tissues that have become inflamed but of abnormal tissues that have become overstrained. This insight is critical because it reveals the importance of not just getting treatment but also that a local treatment that does not relieve the over-strain is unlikely to give long-term relief.
As a sport tennis requires the ability to move easily around the court. The generally employed tactic is to hit the ball towards the part of the court that your opponent isn’t. We all know its easier to hit a ball back over the net if it comes straight towards us, moving to arriving at the right time to strike the ball adds another level of complexity and therefore increases the chance your opponent will miss, or indeed not arrive at all.
Tennis however more than other racquet sports requires body rotation in order to get the relatively heavy racquet moving fast enough in order to have sufficient racquet head speed to propel the ball quickly over the net. In order to keep control of the ball and keep it in court most players hit with either topspin or backspin and need to roll the forearm into rotation through the shot particularly when playing topspin.
Tennis Shoulder Injuries
The shoulder is vulnerable to injury due to the stresses applied to it during tennis particularly when serving and volleying. It’s not common knowledge that the shoulder amongst all the joints is uniquely complex. This is because the shoulder needs a large range of movement and yet it needs to be very stable. Our bodies are essentially forged by the solution to the conundrum, that stable things (think brick) are not very mobile and mobile things (think balloon) are not very stable.
When either the shoulder joint’s stability or mobility is compromised pain often results. It usually manifests as what is known as a painful arc. What this means is that if you take your arm directly out from your side and up over your head there is a pain when the arm is around 80-120° from the side of the body. The physiotherapy treatment required is dependent on the need to restore either the stability or the mobility of the shoulder. The techniques involved are usually stretching and strengthening combined with progressive rehabilitation.