Tennis offers many health benefits, but as with any aspect of life, there are also side effects. Both amateurs and professionals suffer minor or major injuries from time to time. Understanding why injuries occur is a crucial step in analyzing how hard tennis is on your body and making a conscious decision about whether to continue to train. Coach Marcin Bieniek, founder of Enjoy Tennis Blog, explains to what extent tennis is a dangerous sport.
To what extent is tennis a dangerous sport?
Tennis is not a contact sport, but it doesn’t mean that it is easy on the body. However, the stressors are necessary to improve your game and experience physical gains.
Playing on different surfaces, against different playing styles or in different weather conditions are all factors that can put players in danger. We have all seen the horrible ankle injury Sascha Zverev sustained in the 2022 French Open semifinal against Rafael Nadal. These situations happen and players have to be prepared for all the difficulties.
Athletes have to learn how to maintain an optimum amount of pressure to get the benefits without side effects. Serving for too long is a typical mistake that can lead to shoulder injuries, especially for pro players. Amateur players have problems with knees, because of inadequate volume and intensity of the sessions. They also suffer elbow pain when they are not focused on acquiring proper technical habits.
You have to be aware that tennis can be dangerous if you don’t care about specific body parts that are prone to injuries as you run, change directions and hit all the time with dominant hand. That is why, all players should take care of physical preparation to make sure that their bodies are ready to meet the demands of tennis training and competition.
However, you have to be aware that it is not enough to just do regular gym sessions or long-distance running to remain injury-free.
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Exercises for injury prevention
Players should do specific exercises on a weekly basis to protect their body and be able to increase the intensity of sessions without additional pain. It is important to do specific work in the areas that tennis puts the most tension on. That is why all professional tennis players have individual shoulder routines that prepare this area of the body for thousands of movements. Optimally, you should perform a few sets of simple exercises to protect your rotators and to improve the mobility in the shoulder, but if it is a challenge for your daily schedule, you can incorporate these exercises into your tennis warm-up before the session.
To minimize the possibility of being forced to take a break from tennis, players have to employ proper recovery techniques. Every training and match is a big challenge for the body that has to perform a lot of complex movements to allow the player to perform at an optimal level. After that, it is necessary to stretch and roll the muscles, as well as to do ice baths or wear compression sleeves to improve recovery pace and lower muscle fatigue.
Tennis won’t be as dangerous for our bodies if we have a proper amount of energy and a balanced level of micro and macronutrients. What we eat and how much we drink are as important as the volume of our practice sessions. If we don’t consume good-quality food or we don’t drink enough water, our body will start feeling the effects of intensive hitting and this is the first step to overuse specific parts of our body and to start having problems with body and health. Especially after the practice, consume a post-exercise meal that contains carbs and protein (60-80 g of carbs and 20 g of protein) within 45 minutes to help your body recover at maximum pace.
Overall, our actions decide how much we risk while playing tennis. If we take care of complex preparation that includes physical preparation, recovery aspects and nutritional plan, we can be sure that we control everything that we have an impact on. It is still possible that from time to time we will have to deal with an injury, but the number will be significantly lower than in the situation when we just play tennis and we don’t have time for other necessary activities related to taking care of our body.
To learn more from coach Marcin Bieniek, join his on-demand video training program and get a 30% discount with the code WTBPROMO. Also, visit our Tennis Tips page to learn how to improve specific shots and skills, handle pressure, adapt your game to all surfaces and weather conditions, and much more.