Among the most common of tennis injuries are those to the back. Which is not surprising when you consider the twisting, turning, and arm movements required for a successful game. While pain can be anywhere in the back from tennis, it is usually found in the lower back. Tennis back pain of any kind will not only remove any enjoyment you get from the game, but will also have an impact on your performance; even a slight impact can make a big difference when you’re competing.
Tennis Back Pain
Tennis is an extremely active game and combines speed, strength, and agility. There are several obvious ways in which tennis can hurt your back:
- When you serve, the sharp, hard downward motion puts a great deal of pressure on the spinal column in your lower back. Your lumbar discs will extend and then compress as your vertebrae respond to your movements, increasing the possibility of damage to them.
- The twisting and bodily rotation necessary for both forehand and backhand shots could cause muscle strains as well as damage to the tendons and ligaments, particularly in the lower back and shoulders.
- Tennis involves abrupt, sharp movements, which put additional strain onto the muscles in the lower back.
Some back injuries from tennis accumulate little by little over a long period of time; these can be insidious since you might just ignore a minor pain. Unfortunately, these minor pains are signals that something is damaged, and can develop into a more serious problem that could keep you off the court for weeks. Sudden, sharp pain can cause a game to be called immediately. However, whether the pain builds up gradually or hits all at once, the result is the same: you will have to deal with the problem before you get back to your game.
Keeping Your Back Pain-Free
Staying on the courts and not missing any important tournaments are the goals for which you are aiming. There are some things you can do that will minimize the possibility of back injury when you’re playing:
- A regular exercise regimen should be started before you start playing tennis seriously. This will not only help to build up bodily strength and agility in general, but it will also help make your body much more flexible.
- The wrong kind of equipment can contribute to back pain. A consultation with professionals at the sports shop can help you to choose not only the correct racquet for your size and strength, but also the right shoes; sneakers or flip-flops are not a good choice for the courts.
- If you are experiencing the same kind of pain over and over, even after acquiring the right equipment, the problem could lie in how you play the game. A tennis coach can pinpoint any errors of movement you are making and provide suggestions on how to correct them.
- Warming up and stretching before hitting the court will also lessen the chances of hurting your back. Muscles and tendons that have been warmed up will be more flexible and responsive.
- Tennis courts come with several surfaces – synthetic clay, a soft surface that resembles green sand, or asphalt. If you are able, always try to avoid playing on asphalt, the hard surface is much harder on your entire body, including your back.
Returning to the Court
The first thing to do when experiencing back pain is to stop playing. Continuing will only make the problem worse and lengthen the time necessary for healing. Always keep in mind PRICE:
In most cases, this treatment at home will enable you to return to play within a few weeks. However, should pain persist, or become worse, you will have to see your physio or a massage therapist. While recovering from a back injury, it might be a good idea to schedule a visit to a massage therapist, whose knowledge of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and the spine will enable them to provide relief from pain and speed healing.
It’s worth considering getting some regular massage treatments which can also help to reduce getting to any injured stage.