Recovery from Tennis Injuries with Jane Jarosz, P.T.
By Jane Jarosz
Most people know about tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), a devastating injury to the muscles and tendons on the outside of the elbow. However, did you know that there's a lot that one can do to avoid it?
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Moderator: Welcome to WebMD Live's Sports and Fitness Auditorium. Today we are discussing prevention of and recovery from tennis injuries with Jane Jarosz, PT.
Greetings, Ms. Jarosz!
Moderator: Well, let's begin with a little background information. What are the most common tennis related injuries?
Jarosz: Probably the shoulder and elbow tend to be the most common, due to overuse, because it's a very repetitive sport. Probably the lower back and the knees would be next in line.
Moderator: Is there any way to prevent these injuries?
Jarosz: Several ways. Equipment is one factor to look at. Physical conditioning and preparation, and proper instruction, and good technique.
Moderator: Well, let's begin with equipment.
Jarosz: From an upper extremity standpoint, the first thing to look at is the racquet itself. Racquet material can vary tremendously, from graphite to the more high tech material of carbon and titanium. As you move from graphite to carbon and titanium, the racquet stiffness increases. As you increase stiffness, you'll typically have more power, but potentially at the expense of control. Probably the next thing to look at in a racquet is the racquet head size. There's typically the mid-sized and the over-sized racquet. These are most common today. If someone has an elbow injury, we'll typically recommend on oversized racquet to increase the sweet spot. Probably a third thing to look at is the grip size. Commonly I'll recommend anthropometric. Basically you measure from the second palm line in your hand to the tip of your fourth finger. That gives you your true grip size. As far as the racquet width is concerned, there are two types, standard and wide body. The wide body is wider and increases stiffness of the racquet, therefore increasing power, but again, potentially at the expense of control. Proper shoe wear is important. There are a lot of brands of tennis shoes specifically made for tennis out there. It can be important to make sure you have good cushioning to absorb the shock from the stopping and starting motions in tennis. That will help prevent the overuse knee injury. In addition, good support on the inner and outer side of the shoe is important to support the foot during the side to side motions while playing. That's about it, as far as equipment.
Moderator: Is the court a factor in injury prevention?
Jarosz: Basically there are two types of surfaces most people play on, that is a hard court or a clay court. The clay courts tend to be a lot more forgiving because they are softer, and the player will tend to glide on the court, and the forces to the joints of the body, especially the legs and the back, significantly decrease on the clay courts. The ball often moves much slower on a clay court because, again, the forces of the ball are absorbed more readily. Therefore, the pace of the ball tends to be a little bit slower on a clay court.
Moderator: What should a player look for in a court?
Jarosz: Probably the first thing important is to check out the people that run the facility, as far as if they have a certified tennis pro on staff, do they have involvement with the US Tennis Association? Are there leagues available either within the club or that play other clubs in the area? What's important to that player? Competition? Or more for the social aspect? Or a combination of the two? A club should really offer both of those types of situations.