Treatment and Prevention of Tennis Injuries with Acupuncture
Tennis worldwide is one of the most popular racket sports played. Two-thirds of tennis injuries can be attributed to overuse. Especially for noncompetitive tennis players, improper technique in training is a common cause of overuse tennis injuries. Although most of these overuse injuries affect the shoulders, wrists and elbows; back strains, hamstring pulls, and stress fractures can also occur quite frequently. I work with many tennis players and have found that treatment and prevention of tennis injuries with acupuncture along with body work is extremely effective for both acute and chronic conditions due to overuse.
COMMON INJURIES IN TENNIS
Injuries can be cumulative or acute over-use. The difference is that cumulative injuries are more often felt in the joints, there is a nagging soreness that occurs during or shortly after playing, and will repeatedly occur in the same area week after week. Overuse will be felt more in the muscles and will be most noticeable 24-48 hours later but will not repeat week after week. Some of the most common injuries in tennis include the following:
Tendinitis of the Wrist
Symptoms include pain and swelling in the wrist, pain in flexing or extending the wrist and when making a fist.
Caused from repetitive movements, such as flicking the wrist in returning the ball
Pain in the outside of the elbow which occurs with hitting a tennis ball or rotating arm in either direction
• Possible radiation down the arm into the fingers or wrist
Caused from: overuse of the muscles that extend the wrist or bend the elbow and the elbow absorbs the force of the ball hitting the racket along with improper shoulder use when swinging the racket.
Bursitis of the Elbow
• Swelling in the elbow
• Formation of a fluid like lump
• Sensitivity to the touched
• Possible heat in the elbow joint
Caused by repetitive swinging of the racket
Shoulder Impingement Syndrome
Symptoms include decreased range of motion in the shoulder and pain in the upper shoulder or upper arm and especially pain when lifting the arm away from the body and overhead motions with the racket.
Generally caused by overhead motions with the racket.
Symptoms include a sudden sharp pain in the back of the thigh and/or pain with bending the knee and a decreased range of motion in walking or bending the knee
• Rapid movements or being hit by the ball
• Poor flexibility and tight hip flexors
• Imbalance between quadriceps and hamstring muscle groups
Can include arthritis of the knee, torn meniscus, or knee cap not tracking properly as well as ligament issues.
Symptoms include a pain, clicking, and or swelling of the knee and pain is worse when squatting or walking
Causes include repetitive motions such as squatting to pick up a ball, sudden quick movements, and movements that twist the knee.
• Pain, stiffness, spasms and swelling in the back
• Possible numbness, tingling and weakness related to nerve involvement
• Pain the back when swinging the racket
• Inability to bend over or get up from a chair
• Unable to twist
Causes include poor posture, twisting or sudden movements, and weakness in the back muscles.
HOW CAN ACUPUNCTURE HELP WITH TENNIS INJURIES?
Acupuncture is a great treatment strategy for these types of injuries. One of the most common tennis injuries, tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis has used acupuncture successfully showing better and quicker results than massage, or other invasive treatments such as cortisone shots etc. The best outcome occurred when both massage and acupuncture were combined decreasing healing time by as much as 50%! (http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1329-acupuncture-proven-to-heal-tennis-elbow )
Acupuncture helps directly by enhancing blood flow and circulation to the affected area enabling the body to bring fresh vital nutrients to the area to heal at a much quicker rate. By increasing local microcirculation, acupuncture helps to disperse swelling and inflammation and helps decrease pain in the affected area by stimulating the bodies’ own endorphin (feel good hormones) system. Epoch Times reported, “Acupuncture literally flips a switch wherein initial inflammatory responses are reduced and the secondary healing responses are promoted. (May 27, 2016)
Acupuncture can break down scar tissue by creating a controlled micro-trauma and creating a cascade of healing activities that result in the remodeling of affected soft tissue structure.
Acupuncture aids in promoting faster recovery after training sessions as well. An observational study of female swimmers found that acupuncture can improve exercise tolerance, increase hemoglobin and blood glucose concentrations, and promote quick recovery thus delaying the appearance of sports fatigue. (Pan&Pan, 2007)
PREVENTING TENNIS INJURIES
Along with a regular acupuncture maintenance program to keep muscles balanced and in top shape, one of the best ways to prevent injury is to add some active stretches both before and after you play. Make sure the stretch is active and not static as a static stretch can re-contract upon a hold whereas an active stretch will warm up and actively stretch the area and increase blood flow.
Although there are many more, here are 3 Top Tennis Stretches that can be a great place to start.
Rotating Wrist Stretch: Place one arm straight out in front and parallel to the ground. Rotate your wrist down and outwards and then use your other hand to further rotate your hand upwards.
Assisted Reverse Chest Stretch: Stand upright with your back towards a table or bench and place your hands on the edge. Bend your arms and slowly lower your entire body.
Kneeling Heel-down Achilles Stretch: Kneel on one foot and place your body weight over your knee. Keep your heel on the ground and lean forward.
I hope you found this information both interesting and informative. If you’d like to schedule a complimentary consult, please call my office at the number above. I would love to show you how I can help you with any tennis injuries and perhaps help you “up” your game as well.