Written by Katie Muenzberg, MSPT, OCS, FAFS
Tennis is an awesome lifelong sport. However, tennis can cause injury to many parts of the body due to repetition and use of your dominant arm and your spine, as well as the high-speed impact on the racquet. It requires balance, coordination, speed and power.
The most common injuries we see from tennis are shoulder injuries, lumbar spine injuries and ankle sprains. Many people think the most common injury would be tennis elbow, but despite the name, this injury is relatively uncommon in tennis players. A tennis swing requires a lot of rotation of your thoracic spine and hips. If you are lacking the motion in either of these areas you are more likely to put stress on your lumbar spine and shoulders. The thoracic spine is the largest region of your spine, and when it isn't moving it can cause a lot of problems above (shoulder) and below (lumbar spine). Because of the quick deceleration and changing positions you need to be quick on the court you are also more likely to twist your ankle. When tennis elbow does occur it is usually due to an overuse of the wrist extensors due to a lack of shoulder or thoracic mobility. When your thoracic spine is stiff it can also make it difficult for you to generate any force when you are swinging your racquet.
Here are some quick stretches to keep your thoracic spine moving to prevent low back and shoulder problems on the court. The lunging exercises will also allow you to control deceleration helping your ankle strength.