Posts for tag: tennis injuries
Tennis is an incredibly popular sport in the United States with almost 18 million recreational and professional players. With new technology and advances, the ball is flying faster than ever before which means we have to be going faster to keep up. This puts additional strain and pressure on our already taxed feet which can leave us open to many types of tennis injuries.
Ankle sprains are the most common tennis injury and can take a player out of the game for weeks or months at a time. Rapid changes in direction and jumping are two highest risk factors for ankle sprains and tennis has both. Ankle sprains happen when the ligaments of the ankle (most often the interior ligaments) are stretched or even torn due to unnatural movement of the ankle. Some players will wear an ankle brace on a weak ankle as a precaution. This is especially important if you have had prior ankle sprains as you have a higher reinjury risk.
You would recognize this injury as a pool of blood beneath your big toenail. The constant direction changes in tennis cause your feet to slide around inside your shoes. This can put undue pressure on the front of the toes and cause bruising beneath the nail. Your podiatrist can release the pressure and drain the blood in a single office visit. After bandaging, you can get back on the court, but if the nail needs to be removed, you might be out for a week or more.
These occur mostly in the calf and foot. Cramps are caused by loss of blood flow due to dehydration. Staying hydrated, wearing appropriate sweat-wicking clothing, and stretching before exercise can all help avoid muscle cramps. If you cramp during a match, you must rest completely until you have rehydrated and stretched. If you don’t, you could lead yourself down a path to chronic injury.
Straining of the calf muscle is a common occurrence in tennis and can take a player out for weeks. Everyone has a dominant leg and usually it is just a bit stronger than the other. You may also have imbalanced muscle groups (such as your thighs being stronger than your calves) which can lead to injury. If you land on the wrong foot or use your weaker leg to push off for a move, you could cause micro-tears in the muscle. Over time, this can cause chronic issues. Rest and physical therapy are the best ways to overcome muscle strains.
READ MORE: Strain or Sprain?
We talk about plantar fasciitis a lot because it is one of the most common causes of foot and heel pain. The plantar fascia, a band of tissue across the bottom of the foot, is used in every walking and running movement. When it is stretched or torn, it can cause intense pain. Wearing the right shoes with custom orthotics and stretching are great ways to avoid plantar fasciitis. If you experience heel pain, start with RICE and keep resting for longer than you normally would (a few weeks rather than a few days). If the issue does not resolve, you may need injections, tapings, casts, or even surgery. Resting now can avoid a longer recovery time later.
Tendonitis can be acute, caused by a sudden increase in exercise, or it can be chronic, a prolonged injury that flares up over time. Either way, it isn’t something you want to deal with. Keep your Achilles and calf muscle loose with daily stretching and strengthening exercises. Limited mobility of the ankle and tightness when you point your toes are signs that your Achilles tendon is stiff and could be susceptible to injury. Wearing a heel lift, especially when you are off the court, can help relieve strain on the Achilles.
READ MORE: Achilles Tendon Ruptures
This injury is more common amongst older tennis players because their heel pads (the fatty cushioning under your heel) have worn down over time and there is no longer enough cushioning between your heel and the ground. This injury is easy to treat with rest, ice, and extra padding in your tennis shoes. Talk to your podiatrist about gel heel cups to soften the impact. You’ll also want to see your podiatrist to rule out heel fractures which can present with bruising.
Although there are a lot of potential risks in tennis, many of them are easy to avoid when you stretch, wear the proper shoes, and exercise caution with your running and jumping. If you are experiencing a tennis-related foot or ankle injury, come see the FAAWC. We have more experience at keeping athletes on the court and can help put you back in the game, not benched on the sidelines. Don’t give up the sport you love because of a simple injury. Come see us today.
Sports injuries aren’t really news anymore considering professional athletes are one of only five occupations that report over 1,000 injuries for every 10,000 workers. But even though the public sees sports injuries as common, that doesn’t lessen the severity or life impact they can have on the athletes themselves. Right now, over 600 tennis players are gathered at Wimbledon hoping to take home the championship title, but for some of these athletes, injuries will hold them back.
Tennis players are at risk for any number of serious foot and ankle injuries so let’s look at some common ones:
Subungal hematomas: This refers to a collection of blood under the toenail causing a black coloring to appear under the nail. While these are not serious injuries, they can be quite painful. Usually a subungal hematoma will solve itself when the toenail grows out over several months, but occasionally it is necessary to drain the blood from under the nail or remove the toenail completely. This type of injury is most often caused by shoes that are too tight and don’t allow for proper movement of the toes.
Muscle cramps: Everyone reading this has had a cramped muscle at some point in the past. Proper stretching before activity as well as maintaining proper hydration and nutrition is the best way to prevent cramps. If you do get a leg or foot cramp, make sure you immediately begin stretching the area to help relieve the tight muscle. It may be necessary to remove shoes and socks to get to the painful area to provide a gentle massage with your hands and thumbs. Once the pain begins to lessen, put some weight on the injured foot or leg and make sure you walk around and continue to use and stretch the area. This will help prevent the cramp from immediately returning.
Ankle sprains: We’ve talked a lot about ankle sprains in the past so I won’t repeat myself too much, but the biggest thing about spraining your ankle is to rest it afterwards. Use the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation). There are varying degrees of ankle sprains so you may want to visit your podiatrist if the pain persists for more than a day or two, during which time you should NOT overuse the affected ankle. If you try to walk off a sprain the way you walk off a cramp, you could end up injuring yourself further and be out for a whole season rather than just a couple games. For more information on ankle sprains click here.
Achilles tendonitis: Tendonitis is an umbrella term used to describe inflammation of a tendon over a muscle or bone. Our tendons are what allow our bodies to stretch in the ways they do. When we overuse or overload these tendons, they tend to revolt against us in painful ways. With an Achilles tendon, this can be a major issue because it is one of the major tendons that enable everyday walking and running. Yet again, the best thing to do is to immediately start the RICE method. Treatment for Achilles tendonitis can usually be done at home, but only after consulting with your podiatrist first. If left untreated, tendonitis can lead to a full tendon rupture, which is definitely not going to get you back in the game anytime soon. To learn more about your Achilles tendon click here.
Heel bruises: These are exactly what they sound like, a big, ugly, painful bruise on the back or bottom of your heel. Generally the bruise will appear over time and many athletes ignore them as a small problem that will go away easily. If you rest the affected foot (meaning no sports or any kind) the bruising may go away on its own. Better foot cushioning or padding for shoes can help prevent more occurrences of this. However, if a heel bruise is ignored, it can eventually alter the interior structure of the foot by flattening the fat pad under your heel causing more pain and a longer recovery time.
This is just a small sample of the many injuries that can affect tennis players and other athletes, but they are also the most common ones and luckily the most easily treated. The moral of the story is to listen to your feet, use proper pre and post care of your feet and legs, and if you do become injured, wait to go back into the game until you are completely healed. If you don’t you may never make it to Wimbledon.