Our primary goal is to help our patients live the healthiest, most pain-free lives they can, and exercise is an essential part of that. We find tennis is a great activity option for many of our patients, as it is low-impact and courts and equipment are highly accessible. Whether you have a history of back pain or simply want to prevent it, here are a few tips to help you get out on the courts while making sure your back is taken care of at the same time.
Warm up properly.
Many back and spinal injuries happen simply because the body was stiff or unprepared for the level of activity stress it was put under. Before you begin smashing tennis balls as hard as you can and diving across the court to keep the volley going, start off by lightly hitting a few balls back and forth with your partner, stretching and maybe even getting a five to 10 minute walk in. Easing into your game may take a little time, but your body will thank you.
Talk to the pro.
Talk to a pro at your local tennis club about your form and equipment to ensure you aren’t engaging in any motions that could cause an injury down the road, and that your racquet has the proper string tension. You also want to make sure you are wearing supportive shoes, and that your tennis balls aren’t worn out or flat.
Think about the court.
Clay courts are more forgiving, easier on your back and reduce the impact of the frequent stops and starts tennis demands. If possible, opt for these soft courts over the typical hard ones, and never play on a slippery or wet court.
Many tennis injuries are caused by frequently executing a topspin serve. The compression of lumbar discs and hyperextension of back muscles required to complete this common tennis motion can make even those with healthy backs sore the next day. If you have any back pain whatsoever, slice your serve instead. If you choose to continue using a topspin serve, pay close attention to your back while playing and how you feel the next day, and adjust your serve if you begin to feel any pain.
Strengthen your core.
The ultimate back pain prevention tip, strengthening your core will improve your tennis game while also keeping your spine sturdy and aligned.