BioSport Ankle Tennis 450pxWhile it is fun to watch the media and speculate on what Kyrgios will get up to during this year's Australian Open, we wanted to shift the focus to a more practical application for our tennis enthusiasts: common tennis injury and what to do about it.

Although tennis is a fantastic form of fitness at any age, like all athletics it can inevitably lead to injury.

Contrary to popular belief the most common tennis injury is not tennis elbow. Despite the misleading name, tennis elbow is not always caused by tennis and it is actually a common condition caused by overuse of arm, forearm, and hand muscles that results in elbow pain. Which basically means that any number of activities can cause it, not just tennis.

So, what is the most common tennis injury?

According to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) the most common tennis injury is a sprained or twisted ankle. For anyone that has played any sport where you are sprinting back and forth and changing directions quickly, this is probably no surprise.

Tennissmash.com looks at the most common tennis injury to occur during the Australian Open specifically, and have found that even at a professional level the two most common injuries are lumbar and foot related. They also found that a high rate of recurrence has been noted amongst players who have not completed an appropriate rehabilitation program after their strain has settled down.

So now that we know what the most common injury is, how can we go about avoiding it and treating it when we are unfortunate enough to fall victim?

 
Top 5 ways to avoid ankle injuries while playing tennis:
  • Perform a complete warm-up before each practice or match, and a cool-down afterwards, both lasting 10-15 minutes. Pay attention to the correct performance of stretching exercises. Stretching exercises for the calf muscles are especially important.
  • Ensure a gradual build-up of training, so the body can get used to the extra load.
  • Wear firm, stable, well-fitting tennis shoes and pay attention to how the shoelaces should be tied. An ideal tennis shoe should have good shock absorption, sideways stability, feeling with the surface (grip) and optimal comfort. Of course the Moulded Reflex Insoles are a great option.
  • Improve proprioception and strength of the muscles around the ankle with co-ordination and balance exercises. Standing on one leg is a particularly useful exercise. Get your flamingo on!
  • A tape, support or high shoe will help protect the ankle ligaments, especially during the first three months after the injury, and have been shown to reduce the risk of re-injury. See the Magnetic Ankle Support for more information. Contrary to common belief, this does not weaken the ankle.
 
Top 5 ways to treat a sprained or rolled ankle:
  • Rest (immobilisation). Do not play tennis and do not lean on the ankle.
  • Cool the painful area directly with ice, a cold pack or cold running water for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat this several times a day (aim for 20 minutes every 2 hours). Do not place the ice directly on the bare skin, but cover the ice or cold pack with a towel.
  • Apply a compressive bandage immediately. This is even more important than cooling with ice, as it will stop the bleeding and prevent severe swelling of the ankle due to an accumulation of blood. The ankle should be taped once swelling subsides.
  • Elevate the lower leg and the ankle above the heart whenever possible (i.e. lie on the floor and place the entire leg on several pillows to decrease swelling).
  • Immediate and adequate first aid is important to ensure fast healing. In more serious cases, a visit to the doctor is recommended to rule out a fracture and to determine whether crutches or a boot are necessary. The doctor may refer the patient for physiotherapy.
  • Magnetic Therapy: And of course once swelling has subsided we suggest wearing your ankle support to continue to assist in recovery and the full healing and recovery of your ankle.
 Sources:

Top 5 avoidances and treatments are adapted from the ITF: https://www.itftennis.com/scienceandmedicine/injury-clinic/tennis-injuries/ankle.aspx

Information regarding tennis elbow is from WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/guide/tennis-elbow#1

Most common tennis injuries are from Tennissmash: https://tennismash.com/2016/04/22/what-are-the-most-common-injuries-at-the-australian-open/

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