'Tennis elbow' and bursitis are the usual injury that novice tennis players endure, as the injury is often brought about by incorrect equipment or improper technique (as in the case of tennis elbow) or overuse of the shoulder muscles that affect the shoulder bursae or fluid-filled sacs (as in the case of bursitis). But as tennis players become more acquainted with equipment and techniques and the need for sufficient rest, injuries such as these become less of a problem. It is therefore important that players need to be conscious of how tennis injuries normally develop, and to create an environment and workout that prevent such injuries from happening in the first place.
It all starts with proper equipment
Injury can be minimized with the use of the correct racket. Find the one with the right grip size and string tension so the stress placed on the elbow and shoulder by the racket is reduced. Wearing correct footwear is also crucial, so when in a tennis court, use tennis-specific shoes. They have outsoles that have been designed for either hard court or clay surface to minimize the impact of movement on the players' feet.
Warm-ups should never be skipped
In any kind of sports, preparing the muscles before putting them through strenuous movements is standard. In tennis, that preparation may involve jogging and afterward progressing to sport specific movements like forward and back runs or side steps. When sweat starts to show, gently stretching the muscle groups for up to 30 seconds – but not to the point that it causes pain – puts the muscle (and the mind) in the correct mode.
Strength training is key
Lateral epicondylitis, the medical term for tennis elbow, happens when the tendon that connects the muscles of the forearm to the humerus, or even a small part of it, gradually pulls away from the bone. As the extensor muscles in the elbow can be strained hard by wrong position as the player hits the ball, certain exercises could prevent injury to this area. Leg and core strengthening exercises are essential so the player can transition the power from either leg to properly hit the ball or increase racket head speed on the serve. Ideally, the abdominals, lower back and hip musculature should be trained so the player achieves stability and better trunk rotation.
Mind the feet
While it is the shoulder and the arm that volley the ball, it is the feet that gives power to the strokes and it's how the feet are positioned that prevents injuries. Footwork that improves speed and agility should be incorporated in every beginner's exercise program.
Stretching after a hard workout allows the gradual elimination of lactic acid which, if accumulated in the muscles, causes soreness and pain. Post-game stretches also helps speed up the recovery process of the muscles. In case the body part in question remains sore, application of ice for up to 20 minutes is recommended.