Practice doesn’t always make perfect, but it sure helps. No matter the field, the person that puts in the most work is often the one who succeeds. Of course, it is possible to overdo it, especially in athletic endeavors. Repetitive stress injuries come from doing things too fast or too much. The more specific the activity, the more likely an athlete is to suffer from these overuse injuries.
Who’s at risk?
When we think about tough sports, boxing, football, and ice hockey typically spring to mind. On the opposite end of the spectrum are games we see as refined or genteel. The most obvious examples are tennis and golf, which have long been considered upscale sports. Because we adore combat sports, both have had trouble appealing to mainstream audiences. But just because players don’t get hit doesn’t mean there’s no pain. In fact, the career of the average tennis player is much shorter than that of the average boxer, football, or hockey player. The reason for this is simple-stress injuries.
No matter the stroke, professional tennis puts an enormous amount of strain on a very small group of muscles in the shoulders and arms. When they practice or compete, players must perform the same movements thousands of times each day. And since they have a nearly year-round schedule, tennis players often overuse these muscles and are then forced to play with chronic injuries.
How common is it?
About 50 percent of all professional tennis players suffer from repetitive stress injuries. The most serious one is lateral epicondylitis, which is more commonly known as tennis elbow. A major issue for professional players, the injury often begins with minor soreness on the outer part of the elbow and then spreads to the muscles in forearms and wrists. The actual pain is caused by damage to the tendons that connect these muscles to the bones. When present, this tendonitis often forces players to overwork their muscles to compensate for their injury.
If left untreated, soreness and pain will spread down an affected arm all the way to the wrist. This can impair movement in a variety of situations that occur off of the tennis court. Basically, any action that involves griping and turning your wrist could be potentially painful. This includes turning a doorknob, opening a can of soup, even shaking someone’s hand!
How to treat tennis elbow
First and most importantly, any activity that makes the pain worse should be suspended. If that means having to use the other hand to open doors or greet someone, so be it! Next, you will want to rest the arm. No, you don’t have to put it in a sling or immobilize it. Treatment for tennis elbow is far less serious and constricting than that. However, it is a good idea to use ice or cold packs on the affected areas whenever there is discomfort or pain. The use of ibuprofen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, is also recommended by medical professionals. Not only will it help relieve pain, it can also limit the swelling that is often associated with tissue injuries.
In serious cases, treatment for tennis elbow may require medical attention. A doctor or physical therapist should be able to help you regain the movement and stability in your elbow with the proper exercise plan. During rehabilitation treatment for tennis elbow, exercises are used to help stretch and strengthen the tendons, which should reduce the risk of future injury. It may also help to wear a shock absorber or brace whenever you engage in activities that may aggravate the injury, such as tennis.