Ouch! Isn’t Tennis Elbow Enough?
When you think of sports that require a lot of jumping, I’ll bet the last sport that crosses your mind is tennis; volleyball and basketball, yes, but tennis, unlikely. However, when it comes to Patellar Tendinitis, better known as Jumper’s Knee, no court sport seems to be spared.
Just ask world class tennis Pro Rafael Nadal who has been suffering from this condition for years. Missing golden career opportunity, after opportunity, from the London Olympics and Wimbledon in 2009, to this year’s US Open in New York, this young athlete still holds an impressive 11 Grand Slam titles.
Off the courts since his match at Wimbledon in June, from the pain that accompanies Patellar Tendinitis, it is uncertain if he will be back to wow us with his exceptional tennis abilities again this year. When questioned during an interview with The Telegraph, whether he planned to make a comeback before the end of the season, Nadal responded;
“Impossible, no, but difficult, yes; I can imagine when I come back I will need time to practice and practice more and more every day, maybe that will take a month-and-a-half.” “The most important thing is to continue with the treatment … when I don’t feel nothing, hopefully that will happen soon, I will come back on the tennis court.”
You don’t have to be a professional athlete to be nipped by the Jumper’s Knee bug. We regular Joe’s and Jane’s who actively participate in sports are just as susceptible.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Patellar tendinitis is a common overuse injury that occurs with repeated stress to your Patellar tendon, which connects your kneecap to your shinbone. Jumper’s knee most commonly occurs with basketball and volley ball players, however, a tennis player’s knees, as well, take quite a beating from playing exclusively on hard courts.
Newbies beware; when starting a new sport, it seems, we just can’t get enough court time, can we? Yet, sudden increases in the intensity of physical activity and increases in frequency of impact activity can put added stress on your Patellar tendon causing inflammation and a weakening of the tendon structure. Reduced flexibility in your quadriceps and hamstrings, and an uneven pull from stronger leg muscles pulling harder on your tendon than other weaker muscles, can also increase the strain, causing tendinitis.
So, what’s a tennis player to do?
- Don’t over train or play through the pain. This is one instance when “shake it off” is not what you want to be telling yourself.
- Warm up! Raising your body temperature with a proper warm-up improves performance, prevents injuries, and increases flexibility of the tendons and ligaments. Hint: Stretching is not a warm-up as it does not raise your body temperature. If you are unsure as to what a ‘proper’ warm-up entails; the USTA has developed a DVD of warm-up exercises called “Dynamic Tennis Warm-Ups” that will help get you ready before each match.
- As soon as you feel the pain, stop what you are doing, and think about rice. R.I.C.E. – Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation – until your knee is pain-free.
- Wearing a knee brace or strap knee brace may help to relieve the pain by applying pressure to the tendon. Reducing your time on the court or switching to a lower impact sport for a while is also recommended.
- Consider taking lessons. Whether you are new to the game, or a veteran player, spending time with a tennis pro will improve your game, and ensure you are not repeatedly making a wrong move that could be damaging to your body.
As with any injury or chronic pain; when self-care is not successful, don’t put off calling your doctor.
Photo credit: Photo courtesy: Flickr/ hyper7pro/attribution 2.0 generic (cc by 2.0)
Published November 2012
Client: Organic Media