Common complaints of tennis players. Sore shoulders, tight backs, rolled ankles, sore elbows, hips that don’t move, muscle strains. But what can I do about it?

Tennis is a sport which requires a lot of different movements from our body, from sprinting to the net, squatting in the ready position, sprinting for not just one good shot but multiple, jumping for vollies, reaching back to serve an ace, the list just goes on.

 That is why it is important that our bodies be at the optimum performance and function so that we can get the aces and return the good rallies.

 Due to the demands of tennis and the actions required certain injuries are more common in tennis players, which can affect their performance and life.


Rotator cuff injuries

Your rotator cuff is made up of 4 muscles; supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor.

 These muscles are all involved in the movement of your shoulder and any excessive stress on these muscles can result in a strain or if severe, a tear of the muscle fibres.

 Symptoms usually include pain and weakness when performing arm activities which you may notice in your forehand or back hand or most likely when you are serving.


Lateral epicondylitis

Lateral epicondylitis also known as tennis elbow is an inflammation of the tendons of your forearm muscles where they join the elbow.

 It usually results from repetitive actions of the wrists and arm which can occur in tennis games but also in daily life such as desk workers or gardening.

 The pain is usually on the outside of the elbow and the area may be red and tender to touch it can also affect your grip of the tennis racket.


Stiff and restricted mid and lower back

We can injure the joints or strain muscles in our back which not only can make tennis uncomfortable to play but can impact on your performance which is often very obvious to the opposition.

You may not be able to turn your body to the full degree you normally can or the follow through swing may falter and be weak.


Hip injuries

We can see from Andy Murray that hip injuries can be career altering.

 Hip injuries can include strains and tightness through muscles around the hips which can cause pain and limit movement to hip.

 Other injuries can affect the hip including labral tears, these as well as any restrictions in the hips due to muscle or joint restrictions can easily be noticed in a game and limit your performance.


Sprained ankles

Running around on the court with constant direction changes can put our unprepared ankles at risk of rolling.

 You may have swelling, pain to touch or find it hard to weight bear through that ankle.

 One of the many hazards on the court is tennis balls on the ground which when stood on create a very uneven surface and you are likely to roll your ankle and sprain the ligaments.

What would an Osteopath do with these injuries?

These complaints commonly present to osteopaths who after a history and assessment will aim to find the cause of your pain or restriction and will work with you to form a plan to get you back on the court and towards winning the Australian open.

 Osteopaths commonly treat with techniques such as soft tissue, mobilisation of joints, techniques addressing ligaments and fascia, exercises specific to you and your injury and advice about adjusting some activities in tennis or other daily activities.


What can I do to prevent these injuries?

 Here are some tips on how to prevent injuries and get your body to its best when on the tennis court:

·         Warm up and cool down - and not just in the warm up hit, do a proper warm up. Include dynamic exercises to warm all the body and then once finished cool down your whole body

·         Keep warm between games, complete short cool down stretches and warm up activities while waiting for your next game

·         Stretch after a match of tennis, think about all the muscles you have used and how you can stretch them

·         If feeling sore after a match, stretch and use some heat or jump into a hot shower to work on some of the muscles

·         Use a spiky massage ball to get into the tight muscles after a match – Don’t have a spiky massage ball, use a tennis ball, there’s probably 100 around your house at the moment

·         Think about your life away from the tennis courts – is your desk posture causing you pain or have you noticed that you feel weaker in your shoulder when hanging up the washing – these can indicate that there may be areas in need of some strengthening or changes made in posture.


Have questions about which exercises you need to know? Or how to stretch a particular muscle? Even if you have an injury and want to understand how to manage it; give us a call on 0416 161 411 or book an appointment online

Want to learn more about Muscle strains - click here to read our blog on muscle strains and the different types and their management (


 Want to know about arm complaints in tennis plays, for Shoulder problems in tennis serving click here (

Key notes”

 Written by Mariella Berry